A report by the Chair of the Housing Industry Forecasting Group throws doubt on residential housing growth forecasts
Property experts are divided on the question of how much housing is needed to meet WA's growing population. HISTORY suggests that a combination of low interest rates, falling mortgage costs and an increasingly tight rental market, driven by strong population growth, will create conditions sufficiently encouraging for first home buyers to return to the property market.
Times are changing, however, and the next generation of home buyers is not following the storyline of the past. Some experts believe underlying demand for housing may be lower than commonly thought, as a high proportion of the 18-32 year olds that comprise Generation Y continue living in the family home far later than their predecessors.
Real Estate Institute of WA executive manager research and policy, Stewart Darby, told WA Business News that changes in the number of household occupants and unoccupied dwellings in recent years discredited prior estimations of underlying demand.
"There's this notion that there's a dramatic shortage of housing supply compared to demand," Mr Darby said.
"The last couple of censuses have proved this to be quite a furphy."
Mr Darby, who also acts as chair of the Housing Industry Forecasting Group, analysed 100 years of census data to 2011 and found that a constant decline in the average number of household occupants in Western Australia had come to a halt and lifted slightly over the past decade.
Over the same period, the number of unoccupied dwellings increased by 22,000 to 109,000, or 12 per cent of all dwellings. The findings are significant, as the average number of household occupants is seen as a key indicator of underlying demand for housing, alongside population growth and housing stock levels. Empty dwellings