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MELBOURNE, AAP – Listed property giant Stockland is capitalising on increased confidence in the east coast housing market, inking thousands of residential sales and increasing its half-year dividend.

The company reported a statutory profit of $350 million for the half year to December and will pay shareholders 11.3 cents per share.

Its residential development division was the bright spot, with 3800 lots settled in the period, a 43 per cent increase on the first six months of 2020.

Stockland also took almost 4000 deposits, citing low interest rates, government stimulus, and limited land supply for the residential market roaring back to life.

The company is the largest house and land developer in Australia, and is seen as an indicator of the health of the property market generally.

It’s moved to bring forward stage releases at some of its development sites to take advantage of increasing demand from homebuyers.

“Our residential business performed strongly, with over 3800 sales representing the strongest half in over four years,” managing director Mark Steinert said.

The announcement is the last set of results for Mr Steinert before he retires.

Stockland says its net operating cashflow of $493 million reflects strong residential settlements and improved rental collections.

While Stockland’s commercial holdings were hit by the pandemic lockdowns, it says rent collection reached 90 per cent of net billings at the end of January.

The company, which owns dozens of suburban and regional shopping centres, has also inked a deal to sell its holdings in Traralgon, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, for $85 million, in line with book value.

It’s also managed to offload retail property worth $402 million as it looks to rebalance its portfolio.