‘Spurious’ council decisions blamed for slowing Tasmania’s real estate surge

  • 11,400 property sales in 2018, worth $4 billion
  • In the final three months – 9% dip across greater Hobart, 23% drop in inner-city sales
  • 80% of Tasmanian sales went to Tasmanian buyers, only 2% foreign

Tasmania was host to record property sales throughout 2018, with data from the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania showing 11,400 property transactions took place, valued at roughly $4 billion.

A late-year slowdown

However, despite these figures, a slowdown was observable in the latter stages of 2018, with a 9% dip across greater Hobart and a 23% drop in inner-city sales – in statements appearing on ABC News, President of REIT Tony Collidge lays the blame of this slowdown, and the onus of reinvigorating the Tasmanian surge, on the Hobart City Council.

Stock, says Mr Collidge, has dried up, due to new projects being rejected by the Council for ‘spurious’ reasons.

“If councillors decide they don’t want a project in a particular area — even if it complies with the planning scheme — they can reject it and that is totally wrong,” he said.

“There is no clear guidance on height or rules and regulations that govern building in the inner city. The Sunshine Coast has the strictest green planning scheme in Australia, yet it’s easier to build property there than here.”

Contesting these claims is Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds, stating that the majority of projects are approved without involvement of the Council. The projects they are concerned with are those that attract complaints or test the limits of the planning scheme, rejections only eventuating with good reason.

Looking over the past few years, Ms Reynolds describes 562 multiple-dwelling projects constructed or under construction, a further 148 approved, and only 134 rejected.

A strong, self-sustaining market

Regardless of the cause of this slowdown, it comes at the tail-end of an exceptional year for Tasmania. As noted in a recent report, amid declining larger markets – Melbourne in particular observing a 22% drop throughout 2018 – Tasmania and other states saw increases, buoying the larger economy.

Furthermore, throughout the year, Tasmania saw 181 properties sold for over $1 million – only 33 of these from interstate. 80% of all Tasmanian properties sold in 2018 went to Tasmanian buyers.

Additionally, despite the pervasive fear of outside interest threatening the prospects of Australians in the real estate market, foreign investors represented only 2% of buyers.

“Tasmanians have always been the dominant factor in our market,” said Mr Collidge. “And out of the 20 per cent that went to mainland purchasers, two thirds are people buying to live here. Investors from the mainland only account for 7 per cent to 8 per cent of total sales.”

By maintaining its internal interest – and, depending on who you speak to, increasing stock by alleviating ‘spurious’ project rejections – Tasmania could return to robust form in 2019.

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