AS THE latest monthly building approval figures for Queensland rolled out it was a familiar and worrying sight.
Again there was a flood of new dwellings (almost 4000) for the south east and a trickle (less than 400) for anywhere north of Toowoomba.
The August report from the Queensland Master Builders Queensland coincided with a call from the REIQ to broaden the First Home Buyers Grant to include established houses.
The REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said while the grant (which was recently boosted from $15,000 to $20,000) was welcome as a tool to help first-home buyers get into the market, it did not deliver help where it was needed most - to the established housing market of regional Queensland.
This was clearly evident in the August building approvals for Central Queensland (covering almost 30% of the state) which recorded a total of 49 (5 houses and 4 units, Mackay and Whitsundays 21 (houses) compared to Greater Brisbane 2353 (1051 houses and 1301 units).
Ms Mercorella said the Government's First Home Owner grant, which was recently boosted from $15,000 to $20,000, had provided limited support where it is needed most - regional Queensland's established housing market.
"These markets have a surplus of housing, established homes, and there is no need to build more housing - but to qualify for the Government's grant home owners are forced to build,” she said.
"This is grossly inefficient and is damaging to our regional markets.”
"In regional Queensland, it's like handing a drowning man a glass of water.”
The solution to the problem is simple, Ms Mercorella said.
"Let's simply broaden the grant to include established homes. First-home buyers in regional Queensland face the same pressures of saving up for a deposit that purchasers in the south east corner face, so let's help them get into the market with a $20,000 grant and help the residential property market at the same time," she said.
The amount of cheap housing on the market was one of the factors hurting the Central Queensland.
Master Builders Central Queensland Regional manager Dennis Bryant said conditions continued to be very challenging and a lack of first home buyers was one of the problem areas.
"It's tough out there. We've hit the bottom and we're bumping along,” he said.
"The lower end of the market, the first home buyers and the mid range price house is tough. They are quoting, quoting, quoting and not much is coming back.”
Mr Bryant said home renovations continued to be the saviour of the region and had been for the past 18 months.