The government is facing renewed calls to extend the HomeBuilder scheme again due to record levels of construction and home loan approvals.
On the same day as that 31 March deadline, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showed construction approvals for private sector houses rose 15% in a month to its highest level on record, and was up more than 57% over 12 months.
Lending for renovations also rose to its highest level since 2009, and the number of construction loans to owner occupiers in the three months February 2021 was 43.0% higher than the previous quarter.
With the construction of houses growing at its fastest pace in quite some time, the Morrison Government has faced renewed calls from the Labor Opposition to extend the scheme again.
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Over 96,000 HomeBuilder grants have been handed out, more than three times the predicted 27,000, and Shadow Housing Minister Jason Clare took to Twitter to call for another extension.
"What is it going to take for the Government to start listening and fix the HomeBuilder Scheme so people don’t miss out on the grant?" he said.
"There is a real risk that some home buyers will miss out on the HomeBuilder grant because of a shortage of timber.
"There is a simple fix - change the HomeBuilder rules so you have 12 months to start construction after you sign a contract instead of 6."
It’s time the Government listened to builders and change the HomeBuilder rules so people don’t miss out on the grant https://t.co/Ou1cZ6OZvw— Jason Clare MP (@JasonClareMP) April 6, 2021
Construction demand exceeding supplies
The timber shortages mentioned by Mr Clare refer to statements by various builders saying the strict timeframes and supply issues are causing some customers to wait months for their constructions to commence.
According to The ABC, the "perfect storm" of events such as record demand and intense pressure on supply chains is causing delays, and Master Builders Queensland (MBQ) deputy chief executive officer Paul Bidwell said the next few months could cause pain for both builders and their clients.
"Builders are unable to deliver the contracts because they can't, say, get the timber products … the roofing materials, and there will be financial consequences," he said.
"Consumers have a right to expect that the timeframes will be met, and the price will be met, but because of all the circumstances at play, it's proving very, very difficult."
So some customers missing out could be unavoidable without an extension of HomeBuilder, and Housing Industry Association (HIA) Chief Economist Tim Reardon, COVID-19 interruptions means spending on housing will continue to rise.
“Demand for new housing has been surging since mid-2020 due to a combination of the HomeBuilder program, record low interest rates and the shift in populations away from apartments and capital cities towards detached housing and regional areas," he said.
“Households have changed their spending habits in response to the COVID-19 interruptions.
"Many have diverted funds that would have typically been spent on travel and entertainment into buying a new home or improving their existing one."
Related: Is HomeBuilder working?
Federal Housing Housing Minister Michael Sukkar continued to sing HomeBuilder's praises recently, but according to The New Daily, the Treasurer's office did not say whether it was considering a further six-month extension.
"HomeBuilder has delivered effective support and stimulus to protect the jobs of the 1 million Australians employed in the construction sector," Mr Sukkar said.
"Treasury estimates HomeBuilder will support up to $18 billion worth of residential construction projects.
"HomeBuilder is supporting our economic comeback and will continue to support residential construction jobs well into 2022."
Photo by Bianca Sbircea-Constantin on Unsplash