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Regional & coastal QLD markets & suburb picks

John McGrath
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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by John McGrath

A few weeks ago I wrote about the exciting things happening in Brisbane but there’s also plenty of great news outside the capital, which is what I’d like to tell you about this week.

Some of the trends we are seeing in Brisbane – such as strong activity among upgrading local families & increasing interest from both local & southern state investors is being mirrored in key regional & coastal communities.

Some of the important trends in regional & coastal QLD markets are as follows:

Big infrastructure projects on the Sunshine Coast (new public & private university hospitals, Maroochydore CBD redevelopment) & in Toowoomba ($100M Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport opening this year & the $1.6B Second Range Crossing starting mid-2015) are making national headlines & attracting interstate enquiry

‘Pre-retirees’ are an emerging buyer demographic purchasing now for investment with plans to move in later in retirement

Interstate migration from NSW/VIC to QLD is near record lows – mainly due to baby boomers remaining at work post-GFC; however on the Sunshine Coast we are beginning to see young southern families who have sold for big prices moving north for lifestyle & jobs that are on par with southern state incomes

Miners are returning to former home towns & cities or moving to lifestyle locations & investing in real estate. The mining boom turned many average families into wealthy households & we expect to see more of this activity in years to come as mining winds down.

One of the markets I am most excited about is the Sunshine Coast.  This region has finally begun its recovery thanks to major new infrastructure, employment growth & a price disparity that is once again attracting Sydney & Melbourne buyers.

The Sunshine Coast’s house prices began improving in mid-2013, with the median value up 5.5% over the 12 months to August 2014, according to RP Data.

In 2007, the price gap between the Sunshine Coast & Sydney was just $55,000. There was little reason for Sydney investors to buy there. But the GFC hit hard & today that gap is $265,000 – making buying very attractive.

In addition to a compelling value proposition, there’s nothing like major infrastructure & new jobs to spur on a property market.

No project is more significant than the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital at Kawana, currently under construction & employing 1,800 workers. On completion in 2016, the hospital will create 2,500 new jobs with another 2,500 by 2021. The new private hospital opened in late 2013, employing more than 600 staff.

The 25-year plan to rebuild Maroochydore CBD was given formal approval in July with work to commence soon. Old commercial buildings will be demolished, new roads built & Horton Park Golf Club will be developed.

The new city centre will accommodate 240,000 sqm of retail & commercial space & 2,000 homes will be built nearby. Today, we’re seeing a bottom up recovery with the sub-$500,000 market moving fast, followed by the middle market between $500,000 to $1M & a slight pick-up in the $1M+ sector – largely driven by Sydney & Melbourne families moving there for lifestyle & value.

Local upgraders are once again active in established suburbs with great schools such as Buderim, Tanawha & Mountain Creek. Investors are back with a 50:50 split between locals & interstate buyers primarily from Sydney.

In other regions, I’ve been advocating the Gold Coast as a fantastic buyers’ market for several years and today, a wide range of buyers are active for the first time. Many people who sat on the sidelines post-GFC are back in action, confidence is growing & the herd effect is kicking in.

Things are happening quickly because the area was so heavily oversold in the GFC. Another big factor boosting confidence is the completion of large infrastructure projects, especially the Gold Coast Light Rail & Gold Coast University Hospital.

John McGrath’s Top Suburb Picks

Newtown – less than 2km west of the Toowoomba CBD, Newtown is an affordable hot spot undergoing change as more young couples & families move in & renovate.

Helensvale – located a 15 minute drive from Southport, Helensvale is a sleeping giant. This large suburb offers a range of properties with good buying available. There are good schools & easy access to highways leading to Brisbane, Southport & Surfers Paradise.

Buddina – this is a great little pocket between Mooloolah River & the ocean. It is home to the newly upgraded Kawana Shoppingworld & close to the new Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital (opened Dec 2013) & the public hospital currently under construction.

Maroochydore – the fast-tracked redevelopment of the CBD will create thousands of jobs. New roads, new retail & commercial spaces & many community facilities are planned. The coastal side of Maroochydore is particularly appealing for owner-occupiers.

Belgian Gardens & South Townsville – these suburbs are positioned either side of blue-ribbon North Ward, home to The Strand beach precinct. Both suburbs are established areas with good value buying. We believe they are next in line to grow as more people get priced out of North Ward.

Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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