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Rates right for new homes push

FALLING interest rates coupled with a government grant means the timing has never been better for homebuilders to start work on their dream home.

The favourable market conditions have sent thousands of people scrambling to gather finances, with figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing the number of home loans approved for residential dwellings for July 2001 up 70 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Of these, one quarter was for first homebuyers, a figure equal to the highest rate of first homebuyer activity ever recorded.

And while first homebuilders are day dreaming about their new abode, builders are very focused on catching their share of this lucrative market.

In recent weeks two builders have launched new ranges of housing designs targeted at first homebuilders rather than the big-spending second and third homebuilder market.

Housing Innovations, owned by BGC Australia, has been rebadged Go Homes, a building company that caters specifically to the needs of first homebuilders.

Go Homes sales and marketing manager Samantha Wates said the company would be able to build houses for as little as $55,000, an attractive price for first home builders who often had limited finances.

“Generally first home builders will look for these products ... and we think this is very affordable housing,” she said.

Ms Wates said the company was able to offer these lower prices by doing away with expensive market-ing tools such as glossy brochures, television commercials and, most importantly, display homes.

And Statesman Homes, which tradition-ally has angled for the second and third home builder market, has just released its Compact Series, marketed as a range of housing designs for those with smaller budgets and blocks.

Statesman, too, has done away with display homes for its new range. The new range, which starts at $110,000, is based on one of the builder’s previous design ranges but built with “some clever economies of scale”.

Housing Industry Association WA exec-utive director John Dastlik said the launch of new housing products was the building industry’s way of drawing attention to the benefits of building a house now.

“What the building industry is doing is encouraging potential clients to be aware of the current situation, because there really couldn’t be a better time to build, particularly for first homebuilders,” Mr Dastlik said.

Real Estate Institute of WA president Graham Joyce said the building sector could look forward to a frenetic summer building season.

“The overall housing sector is definitely in a strong position but today’s figures also reveal the new home building sector is experiencing stronger growth that the established real estates sector,” he said.

“It is clear the approaching deadline of December 31 for the conclusion of the additional $7000 grant for first home buyers building new homes is creating a bubble effect in the market.”

The grant was introduced last year to boost a slumped housing sector and an extension is expected to be announced soon.

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