A new report confirms the HomeBuilder grants scheme sparked a sharp increase in residential land sales in the Hunter last year.
A Housing Industry Association-CoreLogic report shows 463 vacant lots were sold in the Hunter in the September quarter, up 39 per cent on the year before.
Most of the sales action in the region was outside Newcastle. Sales numbered 123 in the urban areas of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and 340 in the rest of the Hunter.
The median price of a block was up 10.18 per cent, from $299,500 to $330,000, year-on-year in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and 7.65 per cent to $225,000 in the rest of the Hunter.
Newcastle was the fifth most expensive regional market in the September quarter, behind the Mornington Peninsula, Illawarra, Tweed and Central Coast.
Demand rose 61 per cent from the June to September quarters across the region as the state emerged from lockdowns and the government announced HomeBuilder, which offers $25,000 grants to build new houses.
"This data reflects the surge in demand for land following the announcement of the HomeBuilder program in June and demonstrates that there continues to be a clear preference for coastal areas near capital cities and an ongoing trend for sea and tree-change locations," HIA Hunter executive director Craig Jennion said.
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Sales volumes increased 72.41 per cent on the Central Coast compared with the June quarter, and the year-on-year median price rose 7.25 per cent to $332,500.
Mr Jennion said the median lot prices did not account for variations in lot sizes.
The median price per square metre of land was down 1.2 per cent on the June quarter in Newcastle to $569 and up 1.69 per cent in the rest of the Hunter to $361. Sydney is the most expensive capital city with a median square metre price of $1165.
The median lot size sold on the Central Coast was 494 square metres, the ninth smallest in the country, but blocks were more generous in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie (600 square metres) and the rest of the Hunter (615 square metres).
The Newcastle Heraldreported on Tuesday that Newcastle house prices had jumped 5.2 per cent in the past three months and more than 11 per cent in a year.
Leading Hunter developers said in November that they were struggling to keep up with demand for vacant blocks, and McDonald Jones homes reported a 61 per cent surge in demand.