17/03/2011 - 00:00

Property activity at 20-year low

17/03/2011 - 00:00

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ACTIVITY levels in the Western Australian property market have slumped to 10-year lows and are projected to reach 20-year lows, new data from the state government’s land information agency Landgate show.

Property activity at 20-year low

ACTIVITY levels in the Western Australian property market have slumped to 10-year lows and are projected to reach 20-year lows, new data from the state government’s land information agency Landgate show.

Landgate chief executive Mike Bradford said the subdued conditions in the property market were well known but the scale of the downturn may not have been recognised.

“It really dawned on us when we did the January and February figures and compared it to other years, we were a little surprised to see that those months were lower than anything in the last 10 years.

“And then when we looked at our projections for the remainder of the financial year, we’re back at early 1990 levels of property transactions.

“I think that’s reasonably significant, a one-in-20-year result for property transactions.”

Landgate’s property activity data covers all documents lodged with the authority, including land transfers, mortgages and caveats.

A total of 22,168 documents was lodged in February 2011, or 1,108 per day. This was down 18.6 per cent compared to February 2010.

Transfer documents slumped by 24.5 per cent and the number of mortgages lodged during the month fell by 23.1 per cent.

Mr Bradford said that, like most organisations involved in the property industry, the downturn had hit Landgate’s bottom line and the agency was actively seeking to reduce costs and expand business in other areas.

“We’ve been working hard in the business to manage with much lower transaction levels than we would normally deal with,” he said.

Mr Bradford said Landgate’s ability to respond was helped by its diverse activities.

“It’s not just property information that we deal with, we deal with surveying, mapping, aerial photography, valuations, satellite remote sensing, we sell software and we do consulting,” he said.

“It’s putting the whole business together that makes us sustainable, and it’s encouraged us to pursue opportunities that are less dependent on the property cycle.”

Mr Bradford said staff were being deployed in areas not tied to current property activity. For instance, Landgate still has 30,000 paper titles that aren’t in the digital title register and it has put staff onto that task.

Mr Bradford said one area being targeted for growth was financial planners and accountants, particularly around certifying property held in self-managed superannuation funds.

“There is not particularly good use of title searches and valuations,” he said.

“They should be doing those sorts of checks and the information is readily available.”

Landgate also has an application that uses satellites to detect bushfire, which is currently used by FESA, he added.

“We’ve received a federal government grant to include a modeling and warning system into that and to take it national,” Mr Bradford said.

The agency was also consolidating more staff to its Midland head office.

 

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