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  • Tamara Sheward

    TropicNow writer

    Email Tamara Sheward

    No better time to build in Cairns despite flat stats

    Interest rates are low, rental vacancies are as tight as ever and our population is still growing, albeit steadily.

    So why aren't more houses being built in Cairns?

    Even though Ron Bannah from Master Builders believes “there’s actually no better time to be building in Cairns," the Australian Bureau of Statistics's latest Regional Building Approvals data for April highlights a decline in Cairns approvals over the past year.

    According to analysis by Conus economist and TropicNow columnist Pete Faulkner, the building approval stats “show no joy for the Far North”.

    Mr Faulkner said, in looking at Cairns SA4 data, that local approvals were stable at a Trend of 73 after March was revised down from 77.

    “This represents a 35.3% decline from the same time last year,” he said.

    The latest Cairns Watch report covering April 2017 echoed Mr Faulkner’s analysis, saying the mood of the property market was continuing to soften, influenced in part by the fading number of building approvals.

    “Building approvals over the last three months have dropped back significantly from the spikes experienced in October/November 2015, reverting the trend into a decline in both actual and stylised (trend-in-the-trend) terms,” the report states.

    “The building approvals trend ran at 61 per month in February 2016, down on the 71 per month in February 2015, but nevertheless significantly stronger than the 44 per month recorded in February 2013.”

    So do these numbers tell the whole story? Master Builders regional manager Ron Bannah thinks not.

    “There is a fair amount of project homebuilders in Cairns who are seeing an increase in activity, but the figures aren’t indicating that just yet,” Mr Bannah told TropicNow.

    “There’s a lot more positivity in the industry here and a lot of homes on the go. There’s also a lot that has yet to come to fruition.

    “We’ve got low interest rates, an abundance of builder availability, and the price of land is only going to keep increasing, so the time is now.”

    Mr Bannah said the local building industry “tipped its hat” to Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud, the man behind the $370 million redevelopment of three CBD hotels.

    “Once more construction activity on these gets underway, I think we’re going to see the success in the commercial sector drift over to the domestic sector,” Mr Bannah said.