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Australian housing activity hits new highs, latest PCI reports


The latest results from the Australian Performance of Construction Index (PCI) survey indicate that housing activity has reached an all-time high, as overall COVID-19 recovery continues across Australia.

The PCI – compiled by the Australian Industry Group (AiG) and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) – reported all four sectors in housing, accommodation, commercial and engineering recovered well in February and the building of apartments turned “green” for the first time since 2018.

The overall index rated the nation at 57.4, down 0.2 from last month – where a rating above 50 indicates continued growth.

The commercial construction and engineering construction sectors continued their recovery but slowed in comparison to the surge seen in recent months.

HIA economist Tom Devitt explained the HomeBuilder subsidy has been central to the recent tides of residential construction activity, as the flurry caused by the grant’s December deadline has now stabilised.

“The end of HomeBuilder’s first phase deadline in December caused a spike in new home sales in the final month of 2020. The second phase deadline is similarly likely to push back new home sales until March this year. The work that will have entered the pipeline after this point will support home building activity well beyond HomeBuilder,” said Devitt.

Head of policy for AiG Peter Burn agreed the recovery is in industry’s hands now and will depend on capitalising on government stimulus.

“With several components of fiscal stimulus winding down, delivery on the increased infrastructure pipeline will become a key swing factor in the continued recovery over the rest of 2021,” Burn said.

AiG reported residential builders are unable to commence as soon as customers are preferring, due to COVID-19-related delays in planning and finance approvals.

Also COVID-19-related, requests for alteration projects have increased in the past month. Commercial builders report retail, hospitality, office and hospital spaces are requiring more modifications to cater for new health recommendations.

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