The median price of serviced (improved) lots for new houses in Adelaide is reported to have risen above that of far larger Sydney by the Housing Industry Association of South Australia. Housing Industry Association of South Australian Executive Director Robert Harding attributed the high price of land to government policies that have limited the supply of land available for building. Nearly all thousands of square miles of land around Adelaide are off-limits to house building due to state government restrictions.
Adelaide is the slowest growing major metropolitan area of Australia, yet has some of the worst housing affordability among larger metropolitan markets. The 7th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey found median priced Adelaide housing to be 7.1 times median household incomes, ranking the metropolitan area eighth most unaffordable out of 82 with more than 1,000,000 population.
Before the adoption of its strong smart growth (urban consolidation) land use restrictions, median house prices in Adelaide were one-half or less the present level (Figure). By comparison, new houses can be purchased in much of the United States for less than the median price of an empty lot in Adelaide ($180,000), though not in areas that have adopted smart growth restrictions.