A new report has confirmed COVID-19 is affecting Australia's population figures and subsequently having a negative impact on housing demand. However, Tasmania's property market remains strong, pointing to other flaws in the state - a lack of housing.
The report released this month by the National Housing, Finance and Investment Corporation looked at the pandemic's affect on the country's population and housing demand.
Its findings suggested a downturn in migration, due to substantial falls in international student numbers, was affecting the demand for housing. It found if this was sustained, further pressure would be put on the construction industry and the economy.
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Fifty-nine per cent of Australia's population growth since 2007 has depended on net overseas migration.
Whilst the lack of migration will affect other industries in Tasmania, the property market remains strong due to a reduced number of properties on the market.
LJ Hooker Launceston director Justin Goebel said the state was lucky when it came to real estate, as it was almost self sufficient.
"The sales in Launceston did halt for the first month or so which was a result of the unknown, but it didn't take long for Tasmanians to get back on board and go about buying property," he said
One initiative to address the property sparsity, which is likely to increase once migration is an option, is to extend the HomeBuilder program to ensure more properties were built.
Mr Goebel said the industry believed extending the program would be a huge benefit, even if only for 12 months to address the sparsity issue.
"This would allow more subdivisions to take place, the opportunity for councils to consider or look at rezoning some land for the purpose of growth now and to cope with the further interest in our state once the borders lift," he said.
"As far as the rental market is concerned, currently when a property goes up for rent - multiple applications is a general result with property owners gaining great rents for their properties. Airbnbs not being active for some time has helped with the rental issue to some extent although when the pandemic slows up, there will be further issues with more people looking for places to live."
The state has historically had a shortage of housing options and the Tasmanian director of the Australian Property Council, Brian Wightman, said it was why property demand remained strong.
"At present, housing demand remains strong," he said.
"[An accommodation] shortage was noted during the recent tourism and real estate boom which highlighted the need to add supply to the market far quicker than we have become accustomed.
"For a period, Tasmania will be insulated from mainland price drops as we continue to present as an attractive place to invest for lifestyle reasons and relative economic benefits."
Mr Wightman said the council supported the HomeBuilder Scheme and other government initiatives aimed at increasing housing supply, such as the commitment to spend $3.1 billion on social housing, in order to counteract the shortage.
However, he said confidence in the market remained essential.
"Across Tasmania the need to increase diversity of stock from crisis and emergency housing through to penthouses should remain priority," he said.
"The most effective economic stimulus the state government can provide post COVID-19 is to ensure that all Tasmanians have a roof over their head along with more choice in the market to upscale or downscale as required.
"Private sector confidence remains essential. If this dries up it will be the state government who again becomes the major investor and developer in Tasmania."
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