COVID-19 keeps property industry confidence down

21 July 2020

COVID-19 is keeping property industry confidence at a near-record low level despite an improvement in sentiment for the September 2020 quarter.

The ANZ / Property Council survey national confidence score for the September 2020 quarter was 76, well below a neutral score of 100. The September quarter results represent a 14 point improvement on the record low experienced in the previous quarter.

Expectations around forward work schedules and staffing levels remain negative and the current impacts of COVID-19 remained strongly negative.

More than 60 per cent of residential sector firms reported the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme had had a positive impact on their business.

Property Council of Australia chief executive, Ken Morrison, cautioned that while sentiment had shown some signs of improvement in this survey, this was before the six-week lockdown was announced for greater Melbourne.

“These results show the property industry – employing more than 1.4 million Australians – remains on coronavirus-induced confidence rollercoaster,” Mr Morrison said.

“While there has been some improvement in sentiment where transmission is low and a positive response to the HomeBuilder stimulus, confidence in the economy remains low and the Victorian outbreak will have dealt further blows to this.

“Victoria’s economy accounts more than one-fifth of GDP and 40 per cent of economic growth last year and was our fastest growing city in population terms.

“The consequences for national industry and business confidence from the Victorian lockdown are likely to be significant for the coming quarter and beyond,” Mr Morrison said.

“The outlook for construction in key sectors such as retail, office and hotels is tracking downward.

“As in the first phase of lockdowns, it will be critical to keep construction going to support jobs and the economy as much as possible.

“While Australia has made better than expected progress in suppressing COVID-19, as shown by the lift in sentiment in those states and territories which have been able to ease restrictions, the risk of new outbreaks and the economic consequences of shutting down the economy will be continue to be felt for some time.

“Decisions on the future of JobKeeper along with other business support and economic stimulus measures will be critical in rebuilding industry confidence and activity levels over coming months,” Mr Morrison said.

The biggest shift in sentiment was in those states and territories with none or fewer new cases of COVID-19 which has led to the easing of restrictions, including South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT.

Survey respondents said the current impact of COVID-19 on business was more severe than the previous quarter. However, 60 per cent of those surveyed expected conditions to improve over the next three months, 24 per cent expected no change, and 16 per cent expected the impact of COVID-19 to worsen.

45 per cent of survey respondents said their business had accessed the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program. 55 per cent of survey respondents said JobKeeper should continue beyond its currently planned cut-off date in September.

There were 955 respondents to the online survey between 15 June and 1 July.

Key findings

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Source:  Property Council of Australia -

Date of Original:  16 July 2020

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