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 December quarter 2020 the:
- median house price increased by 4.2% to $500,000, and by 8.7% in annual terms·
- median unit price increased by 6.7% to $320,000, and by 4.9% in annual terms
- number of houses sold increased by 20.1% to 251, but decreased by 0.4% annually
- number of units sold increased by 5.1% to 184, and by 17.9% annually (Chart 1).
- median weekly house rents increased by 6.9% to $508 per week, and by 7.7% in annual terms
- median weekly unit rents increased by 6.7% to $364 per week, and by 7.7% in annual terms (Chart 2)
- rental yield for houses increased by 0.2 percentage points (ppt) to 5.3%, and remained flat in annual terms
- vacancy rate for dwellings was 2.9%. In annual terms, the vacancy rate for houses and units decreased by 2.9 ppt and 5.8 ppt to 2.3% and 3.1%, respectively
In the December quarter 2020 the:
- median house price increased by 5.8% to $476,250, and by 5.8% annually
- median weekly house rents remained flat at $530, but decreased by 0.9% annually
- number of house sales increased by 36.2% to 94, and by 49.2% in annual terms (Chart 3)
- rental yield for a house decreased by 0.3 ppt to 5.8%, and by 0.4 ppt in annual terms
- median unit price increased by 19.5% to $358,500, and by 17.7% annually (Chart 4)
- median weekly unit rent increased by 1.3% to $405 and by 1.3% in annual terms (Chart 4)
- sales volume for units increased by 12.8% to 44 sales, but was flat in annual terms. The rental yield for a unit was 5.9%, which is a 0.9 ppt decrease in annual terms
- vacancy rate for all dwellings decreased by 0.5 ppt in annual terms to 3.8%, reflecting a 2 ppt decrease in house vacancies to 2.4% and 0.1 ppt decrease in unit vacancies to 4.4%.
In the December quarter 2020 the:
- median house price remained flat at $310,000, but increased by 4.2% in annual terms (Chart 5). There were 33 houses sold in the quarter
- median house rent was flat at $440, and decreased by 2.2% in annual terms. The house rental yield decreased by 0.5 ppt in annual terms to 7.4%
- median unit rents increased by 5.7% to $370, and by 12.1% in annual terms
- the vacancy rate for all dwellings decreased by 9.2 ppt in annual terms, reflecting a 7.4 ppt decrease for unit vacancies and 10.1 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 December quarter 2020 the:
- the median house price decreased by 23.8% to $200,000, and by 33.3% annually (Chart 6). There were six houses sold in the quarter.
Capital city comparisons
In the June quarter 2020:
- Darwin had the second lowest median house price of the capital cities at $477,500 (Chart 7)
- the eight capital city weighted average median house price was $770,359, a decrease of 2.2%, but an increase 4.6% in annual terms
- Darwin median unit price ($280,000) was ranked the lowest of all capital cities (Chart 7)
- the eight capital city weighted average median unit price decreased 1.9%, but increased 4.8% in annual terms to $592,415
- Darwin had the third highest median weekly house rent ($452) and the third lowest median unit rent ($336) of all capital cities (Chart 8)
- Darwin recorded the second highest vacancy rate of all capital cities at 4.0%. Darwin’s vacancy rate is susceptible to fluctuations due to the transient nature of the NT’s population (Chart 9).
Housing finance commitments
In 2020 the:
- number of housing commitments (excluding refinancing) increased by 24.8% to 2543, reflecting a 28.8% increase in first home buyers and 21.9% increase in the number of non-first home buyer commitments (Chart 10)
- value of total housing commitments for owner occupation (excluding refinancing) increased by 20.7% to $916 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 September quarter 2020:
- housing affordability in the NT declined as a result of the proportion of family income required to meet loan repayments increasing to 21.3% (Chart 11), and the average monthly loan repayment increasing by 3.49% to $2,070
- NT recorded the lowest proportion of income required to meet home loan repayments of all jurisdictions
- NT experienced the second largest increase in rental affordability with the proportion of median weekly family income required to meet median rent of the jurisdictions, increasing by 1 ppt in the quarter to 21.2% (Chart 12).
- residential building approvals in the NT increased by 25.2% to 700 approvals, reflecting a 21.4% increase in house approvals to 505 (Chart 13)
- unit approvals increased by 27.3% to 168, 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 September 2020:
- the number of residential dwelling completions in the NT decreased by 41.8% to 513
- unit completions decreased by 70.1% to 95, new house completions decreased by 26.6% to 398 and conversions were unchanged at 21
- the average number of new residential buildings under construction decreased by 7.8% to 642, reflecting unit construction decreasing by 5.3% to 456 and new house construction decreasing by 13.4% to 186. Construction levels remain below the 10 year annual average of 1,205 dwellings (Chart 14)
- the value of residential building work yet to be done increased by 6.8% to $755.2 million, reflecting an increase in alterations and additions work yet to be done by 73.3% to $169.7 million, partly offset by a 9.7% decrease in the value of houses (to $131.9 million) and 2% decrease in the value of units (to $453.6 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.