Scone and Muswellbrook dwelling approvals remain steady in turbulent year for sector

DWELLING DIP: Scone and Muswellbrook remained steady in their housing approvals for 2019, but are still a long way off their record highs of the early 2010s.
DWELLING DIP: Scone and Muswellbrook remained steady in their housing approvals for 2019, but are still a long way off their record highs of the early 2010s.

DESPITE their close proximity, Muswellbrook and Scone enjoyed different fortunes in terms of dwelling approvals and alterations and additions throughout 2019.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, which takes spends of $10,000 or more into account, have revealed the markets remained relatively consistent despite significant dips in other areas such as Lake Macquarie and Singleton.

From December 2018 to 2019, dwelling approvals rose 67 per cent in Muswellbrook and dropped by 31 per cent in Scone, as compared to the 12 months prior.

While that may seem significant, it means little in real terms given the small basis both sets of statistics were working off.

For the former, just nine were approved in 2018, while 15 received the tick of approval last year; and the latter fell from 16 to 11.

Ultimately, changes of six and five respectively indicate a market that for the most part stood still.

Detached houses make up the entirety of the new dwellings in the area, which is something that is relatively unique, according to Housing Industry Association Hunter executive director Craig Jennion.

"It's obviously a spot in the country where people like their space, and we still continue to see detached dwellings as the preferred house to live in," he said.

While the Hunter as whole dipped off the back of a record-high 2018, the two towns in question remain a long way off their best years.

In 2013 Muswellbrook saw 213 approvals, and Scone had 98 in 2012 which represented their best year in the past decade.

When asked why there had been such a big drop off since then, Mr Jennion highlighted the end of the mining boom as the key aspect, although mentioned some other reasons that have been affecting the market in general.

"The Royal Commission and its findings which came out in late 2018 really had a huge impact on consumer confidence, but mainly it's a result of banks tightening up their finance and who they're prepared to lend to," he stated.

"We saw that flow into the Hunter in early 2019, we then obviously had a state and a federal election where people are just a bit uncertain... and we did find after the election that number started to improve."

There was certainly an upturn in alterations and additions (renovations) in the final quarter of 2019 for Scone, with $616,000 being spent, a significant improvement on that period the year before.

Over the entire year Scone did drop in that department by $936,000, but that was off the back of $3.45 million being invested in 2018 which was the most since the record-high in 2012.

It still remains significantly better off than its neighbour in that department though, with Muswellbrook again dropping to produce its worst year out of the past eight.

In 2012, $2.325 million was spent on renovations, which means there has been a 65 per cent fall since then.

The measurement suffered a swing of -16.1 per cent, or in monetary terms $157,000, from December 2018 to 2019.

While this again pales in comparison to the type of data seen in the bigger locations, it shows a certain level of hesitancy in Muswellbrook residents as question marks hover over several of the town's largest industries.

This story Housing approvals mixed for Scone and Muswellbrook first appeared on Muswellbrook Chronicle.