RPM Group Report: South-East Queensland Dwelling Approvals Decline Amid Surge In Post-Covid Population Growth

QLD Apartments Under Construction RPM Group
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Insight: The latest report from RPM Group underscores the pressing need to address the housing crisis in South-East Queensland. It reveals a significant drop in dwelling approvals over the past year, coinciding with a substantial increase in population growth reaching a post-COVID peak in 2023.

According to RPM’s South-East Queensland Greenfield Market Report for May, there has been a worrying 28% decrease in apartment approvals, coupled with an 8% decline in detached dwelling approvals and a 2.5% fall in townhouse approvals in 2023. This decline in approvals comes at a time when the state’s population surged by 143,000 people, marking the highest net increase since the reopening of interstate and international borders after the pandemic in 2021.

The report highlights the gap between demand and supply, with an average of 34,552 dwellings needed annually between 2021 and 2046 under the SEQ Regional Plan. However, current approval rates hover just above 32,000 dwellings, falling short of the required target. Additionally, only 18,783 new dwelling lots were registered in SEQ in the year up to March 2024, further exacerbating the housing shortage.

^Queensland Building Approvals Year on Year (Source: RPM)
^Queensland Building Approvals Year on Year (Source: RPM)
^The RPM Report Highlights the Desperate Need For Further Property Stock in Queensland (Image: SBS)

RPM Group Highlight Rising Population Wave

The surge in population, primarily fuelled by a wave of migration, was 23% higher than the previous year. Clinton Trezise, Managing Director of RPM Queensland, emphasizes the need for urgent action to meet the escalating pace of population growth, especially in the south-east corner where the majority of new arrivals are settling.

“The data vindicates the state government’s proactive approach to fast-tracking housing supply after Queensland experienced another record-breaking year of population growth, with big gains in both interstate and international migration,” said Mr Trezise.

“One of the key findings in our latest report is the freefall in apartment approvals which as a sector, has been critically impacted by rising costs and lengthy approvals processes.”

^Queensland Polulation Forecast Growth (Source: RPM)
^Queensland Polulation Forecast Growth (Source: RPM)

Covering the region from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast and west to Scenic Rim and Toowoomba, the RPM South-East Queensland Greenfield Market Report for May reports a 13.1% decrease in approvals over 2023, totalling 32,453 dwellings—4,895 fewer than the previous year. Apartment approvals saw the most significant decline, dropping by 2,972 to 7,535, while house approvals decreased by 1,811 to 20,594. Townhouse approvals remained relatively stable, decreasing by just 112 to 4,324.

“The lack of supply across all types of housing is having a knock-on effect on pricing, but particularly apartments and land,” said Mr Trezise. “Apartment prices have been hit on two fronts – a lack of supply and rising costs.

Greenfield land developments in South-East Queensland still provide affordable options for first time buyers and upgraders, however with continued low supply there is significant pressure on affordability”

“The broader spike in land prices also reflects the forecasts we made last year of the significant lag between the number of new residential lots being registered and demand that continues to see more people vying for fewer sites. This is an issue that has been building for some time.”

^Clinton Trezise, Managing Director of RPM Queensland (Image: RPM)
^Clinton Trezise, Managing Director of RPM Queensland (Image: RPM)

Meanwhile, median house prices in the Greater Brisbane area rose by 7% to $824,000, with apartments and land also experiencing significant increases of 13.3% and 13.6%, respectively.

^Greater Brisbane Property Pricing / Housing and Units (Source: RPM)
^Greater Brisbane Property Pricing / Housing and Units (Source: RPM)

Major Rise in Construction Costs

According to the report, in the year leading up to December 2023, building costs in all major cities have maintained an upward trajectory. The average price per square meter for constructing new homes surged by 14% to $1,942 in the fourth quarter of 2023, surpassing Melbourne’s rate of $1,910 per square meter.

Despite remaining more economical than Sydney’s $2,100 per square meter, Brisbane has experienced substantial cost escalations, prompting buyers to reconsider their preferences. Many are now gravitating towards smaller dwellings that strike a balance between financial feasibility and lifestyle aspirations. This trend is evident in Brisbane, where the average build size has decreased from its pandemic-induced peak of 260 square meters to 236 square meters by December 2023.

^Elevated construction costs are driving demand for smaller homes (Source: RPM Group)

^Elevated construction costs are driving demand for smaller homes (Source: RPM Group)

Trezise predicts that while immigration numbers are expected to normalize in the coming years, they will remain elevated in the short term, continuing to drive price growth in South-East Queensland.

“That makes supply the key challenge for the immediate future and the initiatives by the state government to improve supply are critical to achieving this,” he said.
The problem is complex and requires a concerted effort at all levels of government and industry to improve the approvals process and to provide critical infrastructure to service and increase greenfield volume, in order to solve the housing crisis in South-East Queensland.”


“But the tailwinds driving the South-East Queensland property market are incredibly positive and have been for some time. It’s also a region where the Australian dream of owning your own home is still alive, and that is reflected in the number of people flocking to the state. We just need to get the mix right to ensure that this growth is sustainable.”

^Gold Coast Queensland (Image: SBS)
^Gold Coast Queensland (Image: SBS)

Note: The information presented in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, or professional advice. While we make every effort to fact-check and verify the information presented, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Readers are encouraged to independently verify any information they find on our website and to consult with relevant professionals before making any decisions based on the information presented. The Australian Development Review does not own the rights to the information included within this article, and furthermore, there is no infringement intended from the included text and images within.


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