The past 12 months have offered endless amounts of wonder, excitement and surprise for the property market in Canberra.
From new real estate laws to record-breaking sales, the ACT saw a number of notable chapters written in 2019. As we turn the page on the year that was, Allhomes has rounded up a selection of the top property milestones and stories.
New residents to the capital were met with the highest house rents in the nation, according to Domain data in January. It was the first time in 11 years that asking rents for houses surpassed those of Sydney.
The Domain Rental Report for the December quarter showed the median asking rent in Canberra was $560 per week, up 3.7 per cent year-on-year, while Sydney’s house rent declined 1.8 per cent to $540 per week.
The Raize the Roof charity home in Bonner, a project conceived by siblings Danielle and Lincoln Dal Cortivo in 2009, was built by more than 400 businesses and volunteers who donated materials and carried out the labour on the project.
Before commencing construction in 2015, the duo set out to raise funds to build the home with the intention of donating to the Starlight Children’s Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages Botswana at completion. The proceeds were split 50/50 between both charities in May.
The May federal election threw potential first-home buyers a lifeline, making their journey to home ownership an easier one, thanks to a first-home buyer policy.
Under the policy, qualifying first-home buyers will need as little as a five per cent deposit, with the additional amount to reach 20 per cent guaranteed under the scheme. Thus, saving thousands of dollars on lenders’ mortgage insurances and making home ownership become a reality sooner rather than later.
However, the surprising result of the federal election impacted Canberra’s property market during the first half of 2019 with house and unit prices dipping slightly by two per cent over the year to March.
Other effects from the federal election included no changes to negative gearing, the capital gains tax discount and the Reserve Bank cutting rates to a record low of 1.25 per cent.
Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr delivered the ACT budget for 2019-20 in June, which included eight property-related measures including stamp duty; rates and land taxes; land release; public, community and affordable housing; city renewal authority; building quality; light rail; and faster processing of development applications.
According to the territory’s budget, it reached the halfway point of its 20-year program to abolish stamp duty. From July 1, 2019, buyers were able to save on the cost of stamp duty.
Under the First Home Buyer Concession Scheme, first-home buyers whose annual household income is less than $160,000 won’t be required to pay stamp duty on any residential property.
Previously, first-home buyers in the ACT could only receive stamp duty concessions on new builds, but the new scheme will extend this to established properties and vacant land.
The budget also included changes on rates for houses and units with units owners, on average, to pay 11 per cent more over the next financial year and standalone house owners to pay seven per cent more over 2019-20. Land taxes were also set to increase by seven per cent.
Minister Barr revealed that the ACT government will also release 15,600 new homes over the next four years, with more than 3400 to be released over 2019-20. Over the next five years, $100 million will be invested in public housing with the intent of delivering at least 200 new dwellings and renewing 1000 existing properties.
The budget noted that it will invest $16 million into the capital’s City Renewal Authority’s Precinct Renewal Program over the next four years, crack down on building quality, employ more staff to process development applications and invest $18 million on the Woden Light Rail.
Austin Maynard Architects was awarded Canberra’s top architecture award, the Canberra Medallion, for its design of a Forrest extension in June.
In May, the extension, dubbed Empire House for its location on Empire Circuit, also won the Gene Willsford Award for best alteration or addition and was also the only ACT contender shortlisted in the 2019 Houses Awards.
The addition, which is a contemporary extension to a 1951 bungalow, was opened for public viewing last year with Canberrans offered the opportunity to look at the city’s award-winning architecture on a bus tour.
In June, Classic Constructions and TT Architecture were awarded the accolade at the Master Builders ACT Building Excellence Awards for the construction of the Drake Brockman House.
Sitting on more than 1150 square metres, the house was one of the largest single-storey projects in the awards.
The home features a central courtyard, pool, two saunas, a gym, tennis court and a home theatre.
In November, the amendments to the ACT’s Residential Tenancies Act came into law. The reforms addressed pets in rental properties, making modifications to a property, excessive rent increases and break-lease fees.
The changes were introduced into the Legislative Assembly in 2018 but were passed in February 2019. The laws were initially going to come into effect in March this year, however, the ACT government brought it forward to November 1, 2019.
One notable change favours tenants keeping a pet. Unless landlords put a provision in the tenancy agreement that a tenant seeks permission before moving in with a pet, the tenant may do so without the landlord’s consent.
For landlords who want to refuse consent, they must do so with the approval of the ACT Civil and Administrative Authority and prove the property is unsuitable to keep the pet.
And, the records kept rolling …
There were several record-breaking sales throughout 2019 that shone a light on the higher-end bracket of the property market. One particular five-bedroom Red Hill home stood out as the highlight of the year.
The sale of 30 Mugga Way in Red Hill set the new ACT auction record at $5.85 million in November. The previous record was set in November 2017 with the auction sale of 4 Hotham Crescent, Deakin, at $5.75 million.
The 5110-square-metre block sports a full-sized tennis court, an extra-large swimming pool with a spa, built-in barbecue area and a wine cellar.
Other suburbs that earned their place on this list included Kaleen with a $1.385 million sale in April at 14 Sherlock Street, trumping the previous record by $35,000. In the past year, the northside suburb has had three record-breaking sales.
O’Malley broke its suburb record with a $4.8 million off-market sale in May, beating the previous suburb record by $800,000. It was a quiet sale for 15 Timbara Crescent, which sits on a 2044-square-metre block.