Lend Lease super sizes homes as sales die

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By Leith van Onselen

Recent data has not been kind for developers is South East Queensland (SEQ). According to RP Data-Rismark, Brisbane and Gold Coast dwellings have fallen by around 10.5% since peak:

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First home buyer (FHB) mortgage demand has fallen off a cliff since the Queensland Government removed the FHB on pre-existing dwellings in October 2012 (see below chart).

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And despite the Queensland Government offering $15,000 in grants for first-time buyers of newly constructed dwellings, as well as zero stamp duty on purchases up to $500,000, new house sales recorded their worst February on record (see next chart).

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Rolling annual new house sales in Queensland also fell to their lowest level in the seriesโ€™ history in February, whereas approvals have picked-up recently (see next chart).

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Not surprisingly, developers appear to be getting desperate, with Lend Lease launching an ambitious ‘super size me’ scheme offering purchasers of new house and land packages a free room (bedroom, bathroom, or garage) on sales contracted before 5pm on Sunday, 19 May 2013 (see below graphics).

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So we have mortgage rates near record lows, the Queensland Government offering all first-time buyers of newly constructed homes $15,000 and zero stamp duty, and developers like Lend Lease offering generous ‘super size me’ type incentives, and yet sales of house and land packages remain in the toilet.

If Queensland is any guide, the RBA is facing a great challenge in trying to shift the economy to houses from holes as the mining investment boom fades.

It also highlights why there is no substitute for making urban fringe developments cheaper through reform to the planning and taxation regimes that inflate land costs, as well as better provision of housing-related infrastructure.

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www.twitter.com/Leithvo

 

Leith van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    No use throwing in an extra room, or 10 even, if FHBs can’t afford the price tag regardless. lol – good luck to them but.

  2. yeah they need fools (FHB) to buy new dwellings as investors/upgraders dont.

    At the current land price, you would have a to put a double storey (i have double storeys) on a tiny land, far from everything, put up with one year of stress and have to deal with the all the corners cut by the builders, loose 10s thousand at the settlement date.Or for the same price, you can buy an existing dwelling, single storey, brick, close to everything, on a bigger land.hard choice.

    unless you need new and totally fancy, why currently building ? obviously there are not many fools around.

  3. Dear Mr Lend Lease,

    Want to sell more houses?

    Are those 69,561 lots in your landbank starting to burn a hole in your pocket?

    I have a novel marketing idea for you.

    Have a super auction next weekend. Let’s put your longest-held 2000 lots up for online auction. No reserve, one lot per buyer.

    I guarantee that will deliver your best monthly sales figures for years.

    • You Guarantee it ?

      I wouldn’t bet anything on that. Here’s why.

      The ongoing malaise over Australian house prices is well known and understood – owners think it’s great and know that prices always go up – cognitive dissonance is grand. While prospective buyers have watched a government elected on the promise of house price reform only to inflate it by a huge amount – now, they are all very, very aware that house prices are ridiculous and we are in for a crash – they know.

      They know that low interest rates don’t matter when the price is going to correct, incentives don’t matter, bigger and more rooms don’t matter.

      None of it matters when they know that buying now will cost them hundreds of thousands and lock them into a cow paddock in an outer urban slum for 30 years, while waiting will see them save money by renting, and eventually allow them to buy a house at a fraction of todays inflated costs, and save again.

      They know. Previously they were unsure, tentative, now – they KNOW.

      And that’s the difference, no one is going to start buying, and those that are being laughed at behind their backs. Eyes are rolling.

      The entrenched paradigm is you STILL do not raise the reality that there is a correction under way as so many people are going to get burned and made the fool of – but everyone KNOWS.

      • I’ll take your bet!

        Lend Lease have been selling ~200 lots per month nationwide for the last 2 years.

        I reckon they would sell triple that at a no-reserve nationwide auction. Easy.

        Now if we can just get Lend Lease to come to the party ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Lend Lease obviously need some govt help with their sales. Let’s help motivate Lend Lease to boost those lot sales.

          New govt land sales approved only to those listed developers that can show they hold >10 years supply in their land bank.

          Lend lease would need to double their current lot sales per month for the next 12 months to qualify.

          That should help.

      • Yes, more FHBs know but a bigger factor I think is that FHB demand was pulled forward in 2009 from the doubled FHVB?

      • I love Gordiano Bruno but you know he got burned at the stake by the inquisition for stating basic science, right?

  4. Why just FHBer that get the grant? Surely, encouraging an ageing population to downsize, into new builds, makes as much sense? Isn’t the objective of this scheme to get building going? So give a boost to those who can afford to build! Those in the larger homes they want to sell, but can’t….and they might even be prepared to sell the old home for less if they get a grant ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Janet, you slide past one of the most insidious features of the FHB vendor grant pig trough.

      If the objective was widespread home-ownership, the FHB grants would extend to previous owners obliged to sell by eg unemployment, divorce or bankruptcy after say 7 years out of the market. But this cohort are wiser than FHBs and wont wilfully endanger themselves by spending up on renovation or home decoration – a secondary objective of FHB vendor grants.

      • A pragmatic answer, DC! I once had a cat, that sat besides the rabbit hole, patiently waiting for the kits to poke their head out of the burrow. None of this chasing the older rabbits about for him….

    • Agreed about the inequity of it, and maybe even of the benefits of more transactions. But the bigger question to my mind is: why should anyone be getting a tax-payer funded grant to buy a home? The free money thing just drives up the price anyway, requiring more/bigger grants in the future. It’s a greater inequity to tax everyone, to ensure house prices stay too elevated for everyone without a home (including those not born yet), to benefit just a few already holding. Can’t we think of a better solution?

      • The better solution is to cease the high development contributions and change the GST structure on housing.

        We need a greater and stable supply of land and housing in the right areas to satisfy demand.

        That will take policy changes and less revenue raising on property transactions.

        • Peter, what about all those suburbs for example in Brisbane that have had a declining population – Rochedale -14%, Chelmer, Jindalee, Capalaba etc. You argument of more land does not fit with the actual population data.
          People just could not afford to buy where their parents bought. That is what must change through new anti-speculation laws.

          • Willy those are suburbs where the children have recently left the family home to strike out in the world for themselves.

            The change in density is exactly what anyone should expect. As the remaining occupants age and die those houses will get sold to younger buyers and the cycle will repeat.

          • Your logic is flawed as the populations have been declining and people have been dying in those burbs already. Younger buyers have not been able to afford to buy back into those areas and the cycle has not been continuing. Note that while the populations declined, prices went up. The cycle to date has been upgraders without kids and yes, those people will eventually die as the deaths double over the next few decades and yes, that will case a decline in prices in those and surrounding burbs.

          • Your time frame is too short willy. Those suburbs haven’t had time to regenerate yet.
            Go back in time and look at suburbs like Red Hill, Paddington, Auchenflower, Spring Hill, New Farm, West End,Highgate Hill, Dutton Park, etc and see how density has increased over recent decades as the older generations die and old homes are replaced with more efficient buildings and upgrades.

            Honestly Paul you are barking up the wrong tree. Suburbs go through life cycles, nothing can change that.

          • Honestly peter, you are the one with absolutely no idea…

            Red Hill – 2006 to 2011
            5520 to 5875 people, or 355 extra over 5 years. 71 extra people per year and how many unit builds in that time?

            Paddington – 2006 to 2011
            8100 to 8512 people, or 415 extra over 5 years, 83 extra per year and once again, how many additional housing units in that timeframe?

            Highgate Hill – 2006 to 2011 and I assume quite an big increase in housing units from my own observations.
            5720 to 6278 people from 2006 to 2011, 558 people over 5 years!

            Yep, your argument is well and truly flawed.

          • willy I said go back in time – what were the populations of those suburbs in 1980 when their youth left the family home. Looking over the last few years on PDS isn’t research.

            Suburb regeneration can take decades. Not everyone bought a house in Jindalee on the same day, not every couple produced children on the same day, not every child left the family home on the same day, and not everyone in a suburb dies on the same day.

            In Jindalee it will probably take 3 decades for a complete rollover from the moment that children in that suburb started leaving home, which is time for another cycle of its own.

          • Mmmmm…. look above for my long term debunking of your cycle BS…

            Your BS would make sense if housing had remained affordable. It did not.

          • Willy at 12;32
            OK then, over that 30 year cycle the suburb of Red Hill added 7.35% to their population.

            Bear in mind that Red Hill was probably a mature suburb well before 1976, but it still shows the cycle that I would expect to see.

            Thank you.

            I have work to do now.

          • Just so you can see the flaws in your logic…

            Paddington – Brisbane
            1976 7852
            1986 6552
            2001 7111
            2006 7625
            2011 8512

            Highgate Hill
            1971 5687
            1986 4718
            1991 5051
            2001 5125
            2006 5428
            2011 6278

            I would not call an extra 600 people in 42 years a real increase in density? Would you?

          • Yes Peter, go back to work and do some more thinking about your BS statements about density increasing when I have shown you the actual data, that it did not!
            Your logic is flawed…

          • Willy @ 12:43

            Well they look like 8% to 10% increases in population in mature fully built out suburbs to me over the time frame that I suggested.

            But in all I think you have me Will, I can’t argue colours with a blind man, so I concede that you win on volume if not content.

            Cheers…

          • So let me get this clear. You are saying that a 10% increase, 600 people for Highgate Hill over 42 years and with all of the redevelopment/unit builds in that time frame, validate your argument about an increase in density?

            No wonder you sell mortgages!

          • Willy, first you tell me that the population in older suburbs is declining, and then when you prove that your statement isn’t true, you are still right?

            Have I signed into the comedy club in error?

          • PF – “Willy, first you tell me that the population in older suburbs is declining, and then when you prove that your statement isnโ€™t true, you are still right?”

            No, Peter, you are making stuff up. I said specific suburbs and made mention to Rochedale, Chelmer etc and they have had a declining population from 2006 to 2011. I have not made any mention of any ‘older suburbs’ at all. I think you are reverting to making stuff up as you got assertion was proved incorrect.

            “Have I signed into the comedy club in error?”

            No Peter, you have signed into MB where your assumptions and false facts are put to the case. Today, you failed….

      • Yes, enact ant-speculation laws asap.
        1. CGT on all properties sold under 10 years, then zero CGT after 10. Exemptions for babies, work or health reasons to sell.
        2. NG on new builds only.
        3. Land tax on all properties and get rid of stamps. Welfare bots could use reverse mortgages provided by Centrelink to pay the land tax.
        4. Rent controls for natural disasters and mining towns.

        Bottom line…we have gone from 47% outright ownership to 32%, so obviously something is not working! The idea should be that 100% are outright owners and then capital would and could actually be used for productive works.

          • I guess my wish list would be:
            1. Capital gains tax on all property, regardless of whether it’s PPOR.
            2. Abolish NG for property, shares etc. Its not the collective tax-payer’s responsibility to socialize the losses of your asset gambling.
            3. Agreed, but I’m not sure I follow your point on the welfare receivers thing.
            4. Not sure about that, but I do kind of like the rent control idea for sabotaging further speculation. It would be one hell of a good way to control inflation without having to f### with interest rates every 3-6 months.

          • Russell
            3. Land tax on all properties and get rid of stamps. Welfare bots could use reverse mortgages provided by Centrelink to pay the land tax.

            This means that those pensioners who would be required to pay the land tax, could do so by taking a reverse mortgage from Centrelink to pay the land tax and yet still to receive the full pension. They may also be able to have it accumulate till death and the sale of the property, upon which time the land tax total debt could be paid in full.

    • disco stuMEMBER

      Let me get this straight – are you suggesting more incentives for the Boomers?

      (surely you forgot to add /sarcasm disclaimer to your post?)

  5. Do not tell me it was the GFC that caused new home sales to decline, when clearly from the chart provided above they were starting to trend down around 2003/4 due to the demographics. This also correlates to when our savings stated to increase.

    • Funnily enough I agree that we were going to have a correction in housing anyway. It had to happen, the global recession just made it more interesting and less predictable.

      • Correct Peter, the demographics were always going to cause a correction. I note that I read where you think global population will peak this century and quite possibly AU will as well. Tell me, what do you think that will do to asset prices and in particular home prices?

        • I understand from predictions that global population will peak around 2070, but that doesn’t mean our population in Australia will peak then.
          If you think about it, a number of nations who are losing population and workforce may be offering incentives to attract immigrants, not to build their population numbers but to retain them. Under those conditions, people will migrate to countries that offer them the greatest opportunities in life.
          It’s too far in the future for me to even have a stab at what Australia might offer immigrants in 2070 and how that might compare to what other countries might offer.

          What do you think might happen in a world where nations compete for citizens? Interesting thought IMHO.

          When our population does start to decline then logically house prices should decline or at least stop rising as supply becomes weighted in favour of the buyer.

          How old will you be in 2070? I’m all in favour of long term planning, but how does a dead person buy and profit from real estate in 2070? I think that you have to plan for what you want to own and where you want to be at your retirement. Planning past the grave is a waste of time IMHO apart from estate planning. If the Pharaohs couldn’t take it with them, what hope do we have – they were Gods.

          • No Peter, the AU population will peak much earlier than the global peak, perhaps around 2035. Certainly in my life time.

            In terms of only considering it in terms of my personal gain/loss from property, I do not. That is more a typical boomer trait. I am concerned about the following generations and the generations after that…

  6. On the original topic, I must say it is might big of Lend Lease to offer me an even bigger house just when heating and cooling costs are increasing rapidly.

    Hopefully they are offering this bigger house on the same tiny patch of land too – this will let my kids get obese and bored faster too.

    • It can help build a real sense of community in your area too! (as there’s no chance of privacy or feeling alone when you can hear your neighbors’ every sneeze and bowel movement).

      • Makes sense Peter – an energy-efficient home is more likely to be bought by those who know how to plan, think ahead and do the basic maths of upfront costs vs long-term costs.

        I would suggest that people without these skills are those more likely to go into mortgage default. And they are also more likely to be swayed by sucker traps like getting a “free extra room” or “free car” with your new house even the though the exorbitant price remains the same!

        • Fair point Arrow2 – I agree that those who plan in detail are likely to be much more prepared for all events.

          I was thinking more of the argument that we now have the ability to build very efficient homes that use little energy above what they produce passively, by utilising available technology. In the next decade it will be even better, so a large house doesn’t have to be inefficient anymore.

    • “this will let my kids get obese and bored faster too.”

      Hook up yourtheir TV/playstation/computer/ipad to a generator powered by treadmill or exercise bike.

  7. On the article point, it is obvious that FHB would look at the LL offer and just say, I do not want the upsize, I want the original cheaper!

    • I bet many said the same thing when they were offered a ‘free’ car, ‘free’ landscaping, a ‘free’ fence etc too!

      Its clearly more important to them that the value of their land portfolios don’t decrease, than they actually sell a few homes on it.

    • All they need to do is supersize the size of house below the one they were originally going to buy.

  8. “It also highlights why there is no substitute for making urban fringe developments cheaper through reform to the planning and taxation regimes that inflate land costs, as well as better provision of housing-related infrastructure.”

    I would question the veracity of this assertion. It may well be the best solution… but I am curious as to what the solution would look like should urban fringe developments become prohibitive in the future… just to satisfy my intellectual curiousity. Perhaps consider this with respect to an island that has run out of room if the concept of Australia being land limited is too offensive.

    What would those solutions then look like applied to a current Australian context?

      • The use of that statistic is disingenuous and does not support your thesis. “Two thirds of the earths surface is covered in water, therefore there can never be a water shortage.” There are better statistics to use that will take a lot more effort to acquire but will do a far better job of proving your point.

        Regardless, that’s not the point I am getting at but I get very defensive reaponses when I ask the question.

        What does the end point look like? For example, does urbanisation reach a point where population growth slows to zero, and we don’t ever need to release more land? Or will we need to, at some point, manage an increase in desire for land area with some hard limits on the amount of land area available. I understand that you believe this not to be the case now, so consider my question a “what if”?

      • “Australia is 0.25% urbanised. Enough said.”

        UE, whilst this statistic may be true, can I suggest that one day, take your kids out on site (safely of course) and spend a few hours watching hundreds of hectares of land being cleared for more urban sprawl. I’ve seen it many times and there’s nothing fun watching the native fauna flee en masse and return later that evening wondering where their habitat went.

        There’s more to land development than google and graphs.

        • Wow. A LandDeveloper averse to developing land.

          Kinda reminds me of Steve Elkington.(A professional golfer allergic to grass.)

          Landbank a bit full LD?

          • Nope, landbank is quite depleted. My comment was made because I was out on site yesterday as more land was being cleared at one of our projects. I can’t imagine anyone being delighted to see it happen. I advocate a balance of urban growth versus urban infill. Unrestricted urban sprawl is not in anyone’s interest. Too many people on this blog comment from their armchairs and use google to “prove” their point. That’s not to say there isn’t a wealth of good viewpoints; I’m just suggesting a little realism to balance some of the arguments.

          • Wow. A land developer who’s also an environmentalist! Tell me Land Developer, do you support continued immigration and population growth? If so, you are a hypocrite. The fact is, if Australia’s population is to double over the next 40 or so years, as the policy makers seem to want, these people will need to be accomodated and the urban footprint will need to be expanded. Unless land supply is free to expand, prices will rocket and housing will remain unaffordable. But hey, your land bank will be worth more, which I suppose explains your constant gripe against freeing up supply constraints, since it will hurt your bottom line (i.e. rent-seeking behaviour).

            Now here’s a task for you, Land Developer. Drive to Melbourne’s north or west and check out the thousands of acres of flat, unproductive, tree-less paddocks, and then tell me why these are off limits to development (as dictated by the planners and the urban growth boundary)?

            I would like a bit of balance balance too – a better balance between supply and demand. The fact that a country like Australia has engineered a land shortgage and ridiculously unaffordable urban land/housing is crazy beyond belief. But hey, if it makes you happy (and inflates the value of your land bank in the process), all good then I suppose. Stuff the countless number of Aussies forced to live in expensive, low quality housing.

          • My personal views often contradict those of my employer, Leith. Making generalisations and accusing people of self interest is purely ad hominem, even if it is true.

            I’m still waiting on answers to my questions. I will find it very difficult to accept your proposed solutions until these questions are answered.

            a) What is the end point of land release? When is enough, enough? (What’s the long term strategy and potential unintended consequences?)

            b) What other options are available in the event that a limit is reached? (What are the other solution options?)

            This article captures some of the “other” costs of land clearing:

            http://theconversation.com/ordering-the-vegetarian-meal-theres-more-animal-blood-on-your-hands-4659

            And this one about how much land we currently use to support our lifestyles:

            http://persquaremile.com/2012/08/08/if-the-worlds-population-lived-like/

          • That’s a pretty unpleasant response UE. I’ve never griped about freeing up land supply to serve my self-interest. I simply have a marginally different view to you about how to respond to supply problems. I don’t advocate carte blanche urban sprawl, not for self-interest profiteering, but because it has other problems. You make a lot of good comments on this blog, I just urge you to differentiate yourself from the MSM by getting out of your armchair and seeing what your position actually means on the ground (environmentally and socially).

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            What is the end point of land release? When is enough, enough?
            When land (and therefore housing) becomes affordable again ?

            What other options are available in the event that a limit is reached? (What are the other solution options?)
            What limits are you envisaging ?

            Putting every household in Australia on a quarter acre block would require about 10,000 km^2 – approximately 0.13% of the country’s land area.

            Let’s look at it another way. If you moved every single household in Australia to the ACT, they’d have about 220 m^2 each – or about half as much as you typically get today when you buy a house in any major city.

            Indeed, allowing for people happy to live in townhouses and highrises (and there’s plenty of them out there), I’d wager you could comfortably house nearly the entire population inside the ACT.

            Clearing enough land to make housing cheap in Australia might be pretty bad if you’re standing right next to it while it’s happening, but in the big picture it’s utterly insignificant.

          • So what are the likely population increases in the future? What will this do the amount of land required? How much food will we need? What are the hard geographic limits in each city? How much water will we need? Where will it fall? What will happen to the land as the global climate changes? What will this mean in terms of the best use of land in the future? What will global stability be like in a world of rising food and energy prices? How will our strategic and defence needs change? What are the implications of all these things globally and in the context of specific cities?

            These are all things that should be considered in any kind of national planning.

            You just said that we could all live happily with half the land area we have now. Great! You just cut house prices in half (give or take). So why do we need more land again?

            I’ve said it numerous times, I’m not opposed to the release of more land in principle. But this is a far more complex issue than most people around here seem to think and would rather throw irrelevant statistics around than actually consider that complexity.

          • So what are the likely population increases in the future?
            20-30 million, from the studies I’ve seen. Getting really crazy, we might even hit half the population of Japan – a country less than half the size of NSW – before population growth turns negative.

            What will this do the amount of land required?
            For housing ? Double it, give or take.

            How much food will we need?
            How much food we’ll need is independent of whether everyone is living in tiny little apartments or McMansions. Or, in other words, it’s not relevant to a discussion about more liberal land supply for housing.

            What are the hard geographic limits in each city?
            Irrelevant, spread out over every major population centre in the country.

            Etc.

            You just said that we could all live happily with half the land area we have now. Great! You just cut house prices in half (give or take). So why do we need more land again?
            I said nothing of the sort. I said *IF* you put everyone in Australia into the ACT, they’d probably fit there. My point being to highlight how insigificantly small the land required is.

            Iโ€™ve said it numerous times, Iโ€™m not opposed to the release of more land in principle. But this is a far more complex issue than most people around here seem to think and would rather throw irrelevant statistics around than actually consider that complexity.
            There are numerous posts here by Leith and others that address the “complexity” related to more liberal land supply. Most all of your arguments are either already long-addressed, straw men, or irrelevant to the discussion.

            We live in an enormous, almost completely empty, country. It’s nearly incomprehensible that we have managed to engineer some of the most expensive land prices on the planet, while sitting on what is for all practical purposes, an infinite supply.

          • 20 or 30 million to 2100, perhaps….

            As our natural growth drops to perhaps to zero or even negative over the next 2.5 decades as our deaths double (boomers departing the home planet). Will anyone accept 450,000 or 600,000 net immigrants per year? As I said, mad as batpoo!

            End of September 2012 โ€“ 22 785, 000
            ABS says now April 12, 2013 โ€“ 22, 988,000

            So what 213,000 additions in 6 months? Just shows how โ€˜outโ€™ the abs really is, like the 300,000 extra that they had that our census showed we did not.

            Back of envelope โ€“ to get to 40 million from our 23 million, we will need to add 17 million over 28 years, or approx 607, 142 per year. Now lets say we have a natural growth (2013 to 2035) as 2.5 million (2013 at 150k, 2104 at 145k, 2035 at 50k etc to 2050) that means we would need to add 14.5 million net immigrants or approx 518K per year. Yep, not going to happen! What politics is this actually about? It certainly is not about reality or even possibility!

          • I am always troubled when I hear people proposing ideas with absolutely certainty. I am reminded of the quote:

            “Certainty is the end of wisdom – not the beginning.”

            A good proposal states “here is what I want to do, here are the compromises I am prepared to make, here are the risks, here is how I plan to mitigate them.” I’m not satisfied that due dilligence has been done.

            If our population ever doubles then we are going to have far more serious problems than land prices. The Australian fertility rate is less than 2 so the only way our population is going to increase is by immigration alone. What fun it will be to double the population by immigration. I’m sure that won’t cause any social problems, particular when standards of living start to decline in the western world.

            But ignoring that… and the fact that doubling the available land in the face of double the population won’t do anything to land prices. Let’s say we get your population increase and we decide we want to actually reduce land prices by halving the population density we have now. That’s a 4 times increase in required land area, giving a doubling of the city radius. Now I want you to go and have a look at each city on a map. Tell me which national parks and conservation parks you are going to cut down. Tell me which farms you are going to remove for having insufficient productivity and why there are no benefits for their productivity to the market place. Apparently, hard geographic limits, like oceans, are irrelevant though but feel free to consider those limits too.

            Hint: The answers are complex and different for each city.

            Now go and do that whole exercise again in the context of a changing climate and environmental and land degradation.

            How much food we need is entirely relevant. Our population will drive the amount of land that we reclaim. The amount of land we reclaim from farms will change the amount of food we can produce depending on the productivity and sustainability of the reclaimed land.

            I understand what your ACT example was for, but you brought up one of my original points, which was “what do you do if you CAN’T free up more land?”. But everyone around here seems so imagination challenged that the only answer is… “well in that case what you would do is… umm… oh don’t be stupid of course there is more land.”

            Since you seem to be fond of logical fallacies, I shall provide you with some recommended reading:

            http://onegoodmove.org/fallacy/howto.htm

            Then you’ll also be able to explain to me how a straw man can exist in the context of someone not actually arguing with an underlying thesis, but simply requesting more information. Then you can go look up the usefulness of a declaration of “everyone knows you are wrong”, “what you are arguing is irrelevant”.

            Maybe a better strategy would be to say “Hi, those are good questions and they are addressed here: “. Or “Some people have questions whether or not those factors are important before and that information is here: “. Or “Your hypothetical is interesting, and in the instance that we found ourselves in that situation I would probably do this.”

            I have the utmost respect for Leith and have been reading his material since well before the MB days. But he is not omnipotent and infallible. There are plenty of other very smart people who have far more expertise than him in a great many areas. They are extremely concerned about the sorts of issues I am referring to. I’d like to be able to balance their views against his.

            http://dicksmithpopulation.com/2010/05/18/205/

          • So I’ve watched all the videos and read the material in each entry but I can’t quite figure it out… is that meant to be a parody site? How can you talk about overpopulation and not talk about resources, energy, water, ecology, environment, sustainability even once? Even if it is just to give a reason why you think it is a load of crap.

            All things are possible in the future, infinite energy and technology can create infinite amounts of anything but we won’t be living in that world for a very long time. Until then we need to deal with the constraints that we have. Any population level is dangerous if it loses its resource support base. A lot of civilisations before ours learnt that lesson the hard way.

  9. Thanks for the piece Leith. No doubt a large number of govt types starting to wish they could buy brown undies in bulk.

  10. I’m a FHB, in that I haven’t bought a home yet. Set up a FHSA a couple years ago which is available to use in July 2014. But I won’t be buying.

    The main problem for me is that homes are too expensive. Simple as that.

    I also wonder if LendLease is targetting the wrong demographic?

    I thought the global trend was towards single-person households? Baby boomers losing partners, more permanently single, more divorcees, more two-household relationships (ie not living together) and declining birthrates?

    Given the tiny population increase in Aust (1.7% last year, I think) it seems to me that they are betting their future business success on providing extra rooms to a shrinking demographic. Strange.

  11. Leith,

    re your charts #2&3, what are the most recent data collection dates?(it looks to be mid-late 2012, not entirely clear)

    re chart #4 Would it be accurate to say that the monthly Qld new home sales have not decreased significantly in the last 6 months?

  12. Not sure if anyone noticed but we recently hit 23 million people, there was just under 20 million in 2003, just ten years ago. eventually people will need a place to live we cannot keep increasing population growth and fitting everyone into the same houses, suburbs will have to fill up the empty houses. Maybe the councils/governments should be fining/taxing the owners who are keeping their houses unoccupied. Why should we be subsidising owners that NG to leave houses/land empty, I am all for NG, BUT the NG has to be on the house/land rented, not on what your wages are.

    • Mmmm, 3 million per decade….
      We are 22 million and 1 million temp visa holders.
      Over the next few decades our natural growth drop to perhaps zero or even negative as our death bust, a reflection of the baby boom, takes place and the boomers (5.3 million) leave the home planet.
      Can you see an ageing nation allowing immigration to double or treble to compensate?
      PS – many burbs in all capitals have a declining population from 2006 to 2011. In Brisbane, Rochdale, Chlelmer, Jindalee…..