The performance of Darwin's property market is dividing commentators, raising questions as to whether the NT capital is in a recovery or “full blown slump”.
On Tuesday, SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said the Darwin market was in a slump and was only getting worse.
“Vacancy rates have continued to rise over summer, rents on our numbers are down 14 per cent and are in a clear downward trend,” he said.
Glenn Grantham, general manager of Raine & Horne Darwin, however, insisted that the city's sales and rental markets are producing very healthy numbers for this time of year.
Mr Grantham said the Darwin real estate market doesn't generally kick into gear until after Australia Day, yet the opening few weeks of 2015 had been “one of the most active Januaries in about a decade”.
He said the start of the development phase at the Ichthys Inpex LNG project was critical to the surge in real estate activity.
“As part of this phase, the oil producer is employing specialist engineers and technicians to support its operations, and Darwin is getting its fair share of new recruits. We’ve seen plenty of Inpex workers at open homes seeking high-end tenancies priced between $700 and $1,200 a week, while those considering a property purchase are most active in the $500,000 to $700,000 price range.”
In addition, companies supporting the massive LNG project are also expanding, according to Mr Grantham. This, he said, has led to a spike in employment which “is good news for Darwin property owners”.
These factors, he believes, have set the Darwin property market up for a positive 2015.
“The market prior to Christmas was a bit sluggish and many vendors shelved their selling plans in frustration. However, Darwin is a small market compared to Sydney and Melbourne, and its dynamics can change very quickly.
“The next phase of the Inpex project is a perfect example of how quickly the demand for real estate can surge in Darwin, creating improved market conditions for vendors to re-list their properties for sale.”