Key Queensland Real Estate Markets Enter Recovery Phase

Queensland’s key real estate markets are firmly in recovery phase, with strong sales in the southeast corner and a number of the state’s regional tourism centres reflecting growing market confidence, according to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ).

The REIQ’s March Quarter 2014 Queensland Market Monitor (QMM) reveals, however, that the continued trend upwards in sales activity is varied across the major local government areas.

REIQ CEO Anton Kardash said there had been a tapering off activity recorded in the state’s regional mining centres, resulting in a two-tiered effect for the overall Queensland residential market.

“Southeast Queensland, including Toowoomba and the state’s coastal tourism centres continue to show strengthening market conditions, while the residential property markets in regional mining centres of Gladstone and Mackay have recorded easing conditions,” Mr Kardash said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of dwellings financed was down in January, but over the remainder of the March quarter, all buyer types recorded increased activity.

In Greater Brisbane, sales activity remained consistent with the December quarter, however with a shift in increased activity weighted towards the outer regions, the median house price was down 1.1 per cent. Metropolitan Brisbane itself saw a drop of 7 per cent in preliminary house sales numbers while activity was strong elsewhere in the Brisbane statistical division.

“Sales activity was most improved in the Moreton Bay regional council area, which saw an increase of 7 per cent in preliminary sales numbers over the March quarter,” Mr Kardash said. “Ipswich and Redland closely followed with both recording an increase of 6 per cent.

“The state’s tourism centres continue to perform strongly, with all four regions – Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Cairns – posting solid growth in their median house prices. On the Sunshine Coast preliminary sales numbers were up 4 per cent over the quarter, while over the year to March, the Gold Coast was the star performer with an increase of over 20 per cent.

In Cairns, sales numbers were down slightly over the March quarter. However, in the 12 months to March 2014 sales in Cairns increased by a healthy 15 per cent.

“Median house price growth across these four tourism regions has now begun trending upwards following two consecutive quarters of positive results.”

The state’s mining centres, however, continue to record subdued market conditions with sales activity down in Gladstone and Rockhampton by more than 10 per cent.

In the regional centres of Toowoomba, Townsville and Bundaberg, preliminary sales numbers were generally steady or down slightly over the quarter. However figures for the year ending March show a strengthening Toowoomba market, with sales numbers up 18 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Typically lagging behind the house market, the Queensland unit and townhouse market has now also begun its path to recovery, with sales volumes up across the state and the Greater Brisbane council areas again recording the strongest increase in sales activity.

“Unit sales were also strong in the tourism centres, with the Cairns unit and townhouse market recording solid buyer activity in the $250,000 to $350,000 price bracket, contributing to an increase of 15.5 per cent in the region’s median unit sale price to $212,000,” Mr Kardash said.

“The Fraser Coast also posted a significant increase of 22.7 per cent in its median unit and townhouse sale price with strong sales in the $350,000-plus bracket.

“Prestige unit sales were also healthy on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, with both recording solid median sales price growth as well as overall unit sales activity.”

According to local agents, investor confidence in the Queensland residential property market continues to strengthen, particularly from interstate investors who continue to find better value for money in the Sunshine State compared to those below the border.

Mr Kardash said that following an easing in vacancy rates in December, the majority of Queensland’s rental markets returned to tighter conditions. “Stronger tenant demand and sales of investor stock to owner occupiers were common theme across the State,” he said.

The REIQ’s latest Residential Rental Survey, carried out in March across all REIQ accredited agencies has found that the majority of the state recorded lower vacancy rates compared three months prior.

“Despite increased investor activity across Queensland, local agents report increased number of sales of former investment properties to owner-occupiers, reducing the overall rental pool in some areas.

“Queensland’s tourist centres and Toowoomba continue to experience tight market conditions, however with the slowdown in the mining industry Gladstone, Mackay and Rockhampton continue to experience a glut of vacancies, despite some improvement in their respective vacancy rates.”

According to the latest results from Residential Tenancies Authority, median weekly rents remained relatively steady in SEQ and the tourism centres. However in the mining regions, where market conditions have been weak for a year now, market rents are easing.

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