This section provides analysis on the performance of the Northern Territory's (NT) residential housing market, including property prices and rents by region, housing affordability and finance commitments, and building activity and approvals.
Key facts | Greater Darwin | Alice Springs | Katherine | Tennant Creek | Capital city comparison | Housing finance commitments | Affordability | Dwelling supply | Explanatory notes
The NT’s housing market has continued to soften, following record performance from 2012 to 2015 that was primarily driven by major resource projects. At this time, demand for property drove up prices and rents, and required a strong supply response. The subsequent softening of economic conditions has led to the supply of dwelling stock exceeding demand, resulting in the moderation of property prices and rents in recent years.
As overall housing affordability continues to improve, it means that housing cost should no longer act as a deterrent to interstate residents moving to the Territory. This has, in part, been reflected in a continued improvement in the number of housing finance commitments by first home buyers.
Nevertheless, residential construction activity remains subdued, with leading indicators such as building approvals and building activity, continuing to contract. To help stimulate the current housing market, the NT Government has launched a range of home owner incentives, discounts and grants, which can be viewed on the NTG website.
For further information about the NT’s housing market, the Department of Treasury and Finance provide quarterly property price economic briefs, and the Real Estate Institute of Northern Territory release quarterly local market publications.
In the June quarter 2020 the:
- median house price increased by 1.6% to $477,500, but decreased by 4.5% in annual terms
- median unit price decreased by 7.5% to $280,000, and by 13.8% in annual terms
- number of houses sold increased by 10.9% to 204, but decreased by 0.5% annually
- number of units sold decreased by 3.0% to 130, and by 11.6% annually (Chart 1).
- median weekly house rents decreased by 1.5% to $452 per week, but increased by 2.4% in annual terms
- median weekly unit rents increased by 1.7% to $336 per week, and by 4.9% in annual terms (Chart 2)
- rental yield for houses decreased by 0.2 percentage points (ppt) to 4.9%, but increased for units by 1.1ppt to 6.2%
- vacancy rate for dwellings was 4.0%. In annual terms, the vacancy rate for houses and units decreased by 2.2 ppt and 2.4 ppt to 3.0% and 4.3%, respectively
In the June quarter 2020 the:
- median house price increased by 3.2% to $471,500, and by 6.7% annually
- median weekly house rents decreased by 1.0% to $505, and by 1.0% annually
- number of house sales decreased by 11.1% to 40, resulting in a 36.5% decrease in annual terms (Chart 3)
- rental yield for a house decreased by 0.2 ppt to 5.6%, and decreased by 0.4 ppt in annual terms.
- median unit price increased by 3.2% to $337,500, and by 3.7% annually (Chart 4)
- median weekly unit rent decreased by 3.6% to $400 but increased by 5.3% in annual terms (Chart 4)
- sales volume for units increased by 11.1% to 30 sales, and by 20.0% in annual terms. The rental yield for a unit was 6.2%, which is a 0.1 ppt increase in annual terms
- vacancy rate for all dwellings increased by 0.8 ppt in annual terms to 4.3%, reflecting a 1.7 ppt increase in house vacancies to 4.8% and 0.4 ppt increase in unit vacancies to 4.1%.
In the June quarter 2020 the:
- median house price increased by 16.3% to $349,000, but decreased by 0.3% in annual terms (Chart 5). There were nine houses sold in the quarter
- median house rent decreased by 5.3% to $400, and by 5.9% in annual terms. The house rental yield decreased by 0.4 ppt in annual terms to 6.0%
- median unit rents increased by 9.4% to $350, and by 16.7% in annual terms
- the vacancy rate for all dwellings decreased by 2.5 ppt in annual terms, reflecting a 3.6 ppt decrease for unit vacancies and 2.2 ppt decrease for house vacancies.
Data is highly volatile due to the lower sales volume as there are only a small number of properties on the market. Consequently, the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory does not report sales, rental prices or vacancy rates for units in Tennant Creek.
In the June quarter 2020 the:
- the median house price increased by 59.0% to $310,000, and by 10.7% annually (Chart 6). There were five houses sold in the quarter.
Capital city comparisons
In the December quarter 2019:
- Darwin had the lowest median house price of the capital cities at $460,065 (Chart 7).
- the eight capital city weighted average median house price was $775,918, an increase of 4.0% and 4.6% in annual terms.
- Darwin median unit price ($305,000) was ranked the lowest of all capital cities (Chart 7).
- the eight capital city weighted average median unit price increased 3.0% and 3.7% in annual terms to $600,505.
- Darwin had the third highest median weekly house rent ($471) and the third lowest median unit rent ($338) of all capital cities (Chart 8)
- Darwin recorded the highest vacancy rate of all capital cities at 7.7%. Darwin’s vacancy rate is susceptible to fluctuations due to the transient nature of the NT’s population (Chart 9).
Housing finance commitments
In 2019-20 the:
- number of housing commitments (excluding refinancing) decreased by 1.4% to 2088, reflecting a 6.3% decline in first home buyers, but a 2.3% increase in the number of non-first home buyer commitments (Chart 10)
- value of total housing commitments for owner occupation (excluding refinancing) fell by 12.4% to $720 million
- for the latest data and analysis about housing finance commitments in the NT, see the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Housing finance for owner occupation economic brief.
In the March quarter 2020:
- housing affordability in the NT improved as a result of the proportion of family income required to meet loan repayments decreasing to 20.2% (Chart 11), and the average monthly loan repayment reducing by 3.4% to $1947
- NT recorded the lowest proportion of income required to meet home loan repayments of all jurisdictions
- NT experienced the largest fall in rental affordability with the proportion of median weekly family income required to meet median rent of the jurisdictions, decreasing by 0.6 percentage points in the quarter to 20.6% (Chart 12).
- residential building approvals in the NT decreased by 13.1% to 591 approvals, reflecting a 21.3% decline in house approvals to 398 (Chart 13), below the 10‑year average of 698 approvals
- unit approvals increased by 10.6% to 177, which is below the 10‑year average of 668 approvals
- for the latest data and analysis about building approvals in the NT, see the Department of Treasury and Finance’s economic brief Building approvals.
In the year to March 2020:
- the number of residential dwelling completions in the NT decreased by 44.5% to 538
- unit completions decreased by 81.2% to 72, new house completions increased by 7.0% to 444 and conversions increased by 29.4% to 22
- the average number of new residential buildings under construction decreased by 23.9% to 656, reflecting unit construction decreasing by 21.7% to 456 and new house construction decreasing by 27.0% to 186. Construction levels remain below the 10 year annual average of 1,239 dwellings (Chart 14)
- the value of residential building work yet to be done decreased by 2.3% to $719 million, reflecting a 34.4% decrease (to $123 million) in the value of new house work yet to be done, partly offset by a 4.4% increase in the value of units (to $466.8 million). Alterations and additions work yet to be done increased by 27.8% to $129.2 million
- for the latest data and analysis about residential construction in the NT, see the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Building activity economic brief.
NT median house and unit prices and rents are sourced from the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory (REINT). REINT groups the regions of Darwin and Palmerston together as Greater Darwin. Darwin is further broken down into zones that cover the following suburbs:
- Inner Darwin: Bayview, Cullen Bay, Darwin City, East Point, Eaton, Fannie Bay, Larrakeyah, Ludmilla, Parap, RAAF Base Darwin, Stuart Park, The Gardens, The Narrows, Tipperary Waters and Woolner
- Darwin North Coastal: Alawa, Brinkin, Casuarina, Coconut Grove, Jingili, Lyons, Milner, Moil, Muirhead, Nakara, Nightcliff, Rapid Creek, Tiwi, Wagaman and Wanguri
- Darwin North East: Berrimah, Marrara and Winnellie
- Darwin East: Coonwarra and Darwin Airport
- Darwin North: Anula, Bagot, Buffalo Creek, Charles Darwin University, Holmes, Karama, Leanyer, Lee Point, Malak, Northlakes, Sanderson, Woodleigh Gardens and Wulagi
- Caution needs to be used when interpreting quarterly movements for regional markets such as Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek. The small size of these markets and low number of sales can lead to volatile results.
- The median house and unit prices, and rents for the capital cities are sourced from Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), which receives data from state and territory Real Estate Institutes. REIA adopts the ABS definitions of ‘houses’ and ‘other dwellings.’ A ‘house is a single self-contained place of residence detached from other buildings. An ‘other dwelling’ is a single self-contained place of residence other than a house such as flats, home units, town houses and terrace houses. However for Sydney the definition of ‘houses’ includes houses, cottages, terraces, semi-detached dwellings, townhouses and villas, and ‘units’ include units, studios and duplexes.
- REIA’s weighted average median prices are derived from the quarterly median prices for all capital cities weighted according to the number of houses and other dwellings for each corresponding city. These numbers are sourced from the ABS 2011 and 2016 Census.
- REIA’s housing affordability data is based on data from lending institutes and the ABS. They define median weekly family income as income from married couples with or without dependent children.
- The ABS building activity survey is compiled using building approval details and returns collected from builders and other individuals, and organisations engaged in building activity. The estimates represent all approved public and private sector residential building activity valued at $10,000 or more and non-residential building activity valued at $50,000 or more. The statistics relate to building activity so construction activity not defined as building such as the construction of roads, bridges, railways and earthworks are found in other ABS publications.
- The ABS publication of housing finance commitments are derived from returns submitted to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and covers housing finance commitments statistics from banks and permanent building societies.