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
Residential property is a significant source of wealth for both owner‑occupiers and investors, and the status of property and rental markets can have a significant impact on consumer confidence. After several years of decline, Darwin’s residential property market has stabilised and is showing signs of recovery, reporting two consecutive quarters of median house price growth in the first half of 2020.
The recovery in the Territory’s property markets is expected to be modest, influenced by economic and labour market conditions and population growth. This is in an environment where some degree of excess housing stock persists, and residential building approvals and construction activity are at historically low levels.
Territory and Commonwealth government policies , such as the BuildBonus grant, home buyer incentives and the HomeBuilder scheme, together with low interest rates, are supporting demand but excess supply will need to be absorbed before there is any sustained recovery in the construction of new dwellings.
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 March quarter 2022 the:
- median house price decreased by 1.5% to $583,750, but increased by 6.7% in annual terms
- median unit price increased by 3.8% to $ 415,000, and by 25.8% in annual terms.
- number of houses sold decreased by 9.1% to 358, but increased by 28.8% annually
- number of units sold decreased by 30.5% to 273, but increased by 42.2% annually (Chart 1).
- median weekly house rents decreased by 3.5% to $547 per week, but increased by 1.6% in annual terms
- median weekly unit rents increased by 0.7% to $424 per week, and increased by 16.5% in annual terms (Chart 2)
- rental yield for houses decreased by 0.1 percentage points (ppt) to 4.9% in the quarter and by 0.2 ppt in annual terms
- vacancy rate for dwellings was 1.5%. In annual terms, the vacancy rate for houses increased by 0.7 ppt to 1.7%, and for units decreased by 0.6 ppt to 1.5%.
In the March quarter 2022 the:
- median house price increased by 3.4% to $ 527,500, and increased by 12.5% annually
- median weekly house rents increased by 19.1% to $530, and was flat annually
- number of house sales decreased by 20.4% to 82, but increased by 6.5% in annual terms (Chart 3)
- rental yield for a house decreased by 0.5 ppt to 5.3%, and by 0.6 ppt in annual terms.
- median unit price increased by 17.0% to $365,000, and by 1.4% annually (Chart 4)
- median weekly unit rent decreased by 1.8% to $410, but increased by 3.1% in annual terms (Chart 4)
- sales volume for units decreased by 31.6% to 39 sales, but increased by 21.9% in annual terms. The rental yield for a unit was 6.2%, which is a 0.4 ppt increase in annual terms
- vacancy rate for all dwellings increased by 0.8 ppt in annual terms to 3.2%, reflecting a 0.8 ppt increase in unit vacancies to 3.5%, and a 0.6 ppt increase in house vacancies to 2.4%.
In the March quarter 2022 the:
- median house price increased by 4.3% to $360,000, and increased by 22.0% in annual terms (Chart 5). There were 19 houses sold in the quarter
- median house rent increased by 5.3% to $500, and by 25.0% in annual terms. The house rental yield decreased by 0.3 ppt in annual terms to 7.5%
- median unit rents increased by 21.4% to $425, and by 11.1% in annual terms
- the vacancy rate for all dwellings decreased by 0.3 ppt in annual terms to 1.5%, reflecting a 0.9 ppt decrease for unit vacancies, partly offset by a 0.1 ppt increase 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 March quarter 2022 the:
- median house price decreased by 19.8% to $232,500, but increased by 1.1% annually (Chart 6). There were 10 houses sold in the quarter.
Capital city comparisons
In the March quarter 2022:
- Darwin had the second lowest median house price of the capital cities at $583,750 (Chart 7)
- the eight capital city weighted average median house price was $1,033,600, an increase of 1.1% and 18.3% in annual terms
- Darwin median unit price ($415,000) was ranked the equal lowest of the capital cities alongside Perth (Chart 7)
- the eight capital city weighted average median unit price was $656,700, a decrease of 0.3% over the quarter and an increase of 5.7% in annual terms.
- Darwin had the third highest median weekly house rent ($547) and the fourth highest median unit rent ($424) of all capital cities (Chart 8)
- Darwin recorded the third highest vacancy rate of all capital cities at 1.6%, behind Melbourne (5.2%) and Sydney (2.3%).
- Darwin’s vacancy rate is susceptible to fluctuations due to the transient nature of the NT’s population (Chart 9).
Housing finance commitments
In the year to March 2022 the:
- number of housing commitments (excluding refinancing) increased by 22.2% to 3,480, reflecting a 54.1% increase in non-first home buyers partly offset by a 17.2% decrease in the number of first home buyer commitments (Chart 10)
- value of total housing commitments for owner occupation (excluding refinancing) increased by 28.0% to $1.3 billion
- 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 December quarter 2021:
- housing affordability in the NT decreased.
- the proportion of family income required to meet loan repayments increased by 1.6 ppt to 25.1% (Chart 11), as the median weekly family income increased 1.0% to $2,190, and the average monthly loan repayment increased by 7.9% to $2,383.
- NT recorded the lowest proportion of income required to meet loan repayments of all jurisdictions.
- the proportion of median weekly family income required to meet median rent decreased by 1.2 ppt in the quarter to 25.9% (Chart 12).
- NT recorded the third least affordable rent of all jurisdictions.
In the year to March 2022:
- residential building approvals in the NT decreased by 32.4% to 583 approvals, reflecting a 46.6% decrease in units and townhouses approvals to 87 (Chart 13)
- house approvals decreased by 36.9% to 426, which is below the 10‑year average of 690 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.
- the number of residential dwelling completions in the NT increased by 2.8% to 345.
- new house completions increased by 21.4% to 197, unit and townhouse completions decreased by 10.6% to 34, and conversions decreased by 15.7% to 114.
- the average number of new residential buildings under construction increased by 31.0% to 886, reflecting unit construction increasing by 8.2% to 509 and new house construction increasing by 83.0% to 377. Construction levels remain below the 10 year annual average of 1,174 dwellings (Chart 14)
- the value of residential building work yet to be done increased by 25.7% to $992.8 million, reflecting an increase in unit and townhouses work yet to be done by 43.3% to $893.1 million, an 8.0% increase in the value of houses (to $513.4 million), partly offset by a 40.2% decrease in the value of conversions (to $99.7 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.