NT Excerpt from the 2012 June Market report


New avenues for job creation point to the kind of property market growth that investors have waited ages for

Property investment in the Northern Territory has traditionally come with an unwritten instruction – “handle with care”. The territory’s property market has always been more volatile than many of Australia’s more populous states, largely because of a low employment base. The feeling that a lot of property professionals have is that this may change.

With ABS and CommSec figures showing an upswing in employment figures, there’s certainly a lot to be optimistic about. Ray White licencee Roxley Pearce says that the effects of Darwin’s Inpex gas project are already being felt.

“The property market is starting to move after being stagnant for a very long time. Investors are seeing Darwin as a place with a big future – not only in the short term because of the Inplex plans, but in the long term because we’ve got some of the biggest gas fields in Australia. This is going to drive the economy in this part of the country for a long time,” he says.

Harron Todd White director Terry Roth points out that it is the construction phase of the project that will provide the biggest push for the property market. Construction increases employment opportunities, which has a knock-on effect for housing demand.

However, Roth warns that once construction is finished, the long-term effects of the Inpex project on the property market will be influenced by whether higher rates of population growth can be sustained or not. “There will be some demand for employment coming from Inpex once the construction is finished, but not as much as the 3,000 they’re quoting for the construction. What we need is to see other major projects kick up to replace it when it’s completed.”

Taking the slack

Ross says that one project that could fill the possible gap left by the Inpex construction is the building of a Marine Services Precinct – currently on the drawing board. The precinct will be designed to provide services for many of the gas processing facilities floating offshore. If it comes to fruition, it will be the world’s largest floating piece of equipment.

Other developments include the Charles Darwin University’s announcement that it will introduce gas training facilities specifically for Inpex workers. This will help further develop industry within Darwin, and Roth predicts that the city will grow as a result.

Pearce contends that the Northern Territory is currently in a good position for growth.

“People can feel safe if they’re going to invest in property in the Northern Territory. There’s long-term growth for this part of the country,” he says.

Roth agrees, but cautions that some of the more traditional drawbacks to the territory still apply. Building costs remain high because materials need to be brought in from other states and everything has to be built to cyclone code. He also stresses that regional areas within the Northern Territory will likely remain unaffected by the gas projects and that Darwin will be the major recipient of growth.

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