The head of property developer Stockland says there is no housing price bubble and Australia remains a cheap place to achieve the dream of home ownership.
Despite first home buyers being outnumbered by investors in the housing market, and falling consumer confidence, Stockland chief executive Mark Steinert predicts a jump in new buyers.
He is also optimistic about the economy, saying the benefits of a lower dollar would offset the impact on sentiment of large job losses, such as those ahead in the car manufacturing sector.
Stockland swung back into the black in the first half of the 2013/14 financial year with a $298 million net profit, up from its $147 million half year loss a year earlier.
Stockland’s profit growth was underpinned by a 39 per cent jump in the performance of its residential property business.
It builds developments in new growth areas, but there are concerns the overall housing market it out of reach of first home buyers.
Mr Steinert said housing affordability was in line with other countries on a house price to income ratio.
“If you really genuinely look at comparable markets any other city you want to name in the world, Australia is cheap,” he told reporters.
He said he was seeing a proactive approach from governments in addressing an under-supply of land, which would improve affordability and bring first home buyers back into the market.
“I think that buyer group has a high degree of pent up demand,” he said.
Mr Steinert said he was conservative about the second half of the financial year, due to uncertain economic conditions and the negative effect that has had on its retail developments.
“In the short to medium term this will constrain our earnings,” he said.
But he hoped as the economy transitioned away from being driven by resources, a weaker Australian dollar would help states such as Victoria, and the tourism, health services, education and agriculture sectors.