A rush to capitalise on the Commonwealth HomeBuilder grant is driving a rebound in new home construction and home renovations, new figures show.

Treasury data released this week showed that 75,143 Australian households have applied to access the HomeBuilder Grant.

This includes 59,763 who are accessing the grant to help support construction of new homes and 15,380 households who applied for the grant to help with home renovations and upgrades.

Meanwhile, new data from Housing Industry Association showed that the number of new homes which were sold by large volume home building companies surged by 91.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December to reach the second highest level in the survey’s 20-year history.

The surge comes as households rushed to capitalise on the HomeBuilder program before the size of the grant was reduced at the end of the year.

Introduced last June as part of COVID economic recovery efforts, the program initially offered grants of $25,000 (subject to eligibility criteria) for consumers who entered into a contract to either build new homes or substantially renovate existing homes.

To meet eligibility requirements under the original program deadline, construction contracts needed to be signed before December 31.

In November, the government extended the deadline until March but stipulated that the amount of the grant would fall from $25,000 to $15,000 for contracts signed after December 31.

HIA Economist Angela Lillicrap said the latest data reflected finalisation of HomeBuilder contracts before December 31.

Whilst the grant’s extension through to March will help to support sales in the new year, Lillicrap says sales will not remain at levels seen last month.

Nevertheless, she says the strength in new home sales is a sign that home building will support employment throughout 2021.