Leading economists have predicted a significant increase in median national house prices should further RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) interest rate cuts occur. As reported in the Herald, leading economist Saul Eslake predicts a “second 25 basis point cut to 2 percent” over the next few months. Higher dwelling prices coupled with income growth stagnation will, he says, increase debt to levels unseen “since the heady days before the global financial crisis”. As a proportion of GDP, Australia holds more debt than any other comparable developed economy.

Despite rate cuts, business and consumer confidence remains low. Those with mortgages are continuing to pay the same mortgage amount monthly with just the principal and interest proportions adjusted – lower interest rates have had little effect on cashflow. Household spending growth remains low due to weak job security. And Australia remains one of the most expensive places to buy property: latest data by the IMF Global Housing Watch (updated quarterly) ranks Australia as one of the most expensive places in the world to buy property, after Estonia, Iceland and the United Kingdom. But the IMF data simply articulates what most Australians already know about the state of the housing market: Australian property is too expensive.

Yet one sector of the economy that is thriving is the home build market, described by chief economist of the Housing Industry Association (HIA) Harley Dale as the “success story of the domestic economy”. Boosted by underlying pent-up demand and continued low mortgage interest rates, more new homes were started in the last quarter of 2014 compared with any quarter since records began, according to recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Commenting on the data, New Home Group general manager Karl Mifsud said: “We’ve certainly seen a dramatic increase in the number of applicants for our Home Build Assist Grant. It’s exciting. Home ownership is a cornerstone of the great Australian dream and it’s encouraging that, in the current economic climate, more Australians are looking at the smart option of building their own home. Without this option, aspiring homeowners will continue to be priced out of a decent home, young people will be trapped in children’s bedrooms and families will keep on struggling to pay astronomical rents.”

New Home Group’s flagship Home Build Assist Grant is a unique grant that enables approved purchasers to get a mortgage on new-build homes with only a fraction of the deposit they would typically require; and it is only available through New Home Group.

Mifsud added: “It’s vital that more is done to help rectify a situation where lenders won’t lend – because their clients are struggling to scrabble together the required deposit – so buyers can’t buy. Applicant after applicant tells us that were it not for the Grant, they would not be able to afford their own home. Although we endeavour to make the Grant available to as many people as possible, we cannot guarantee it will continue indefinitely, so I would urge serious buyers to see whether they qualify in the first instance, and to do so now – or they may miss the boat.”

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