05 January 2020 Choose wisely: prospects for successful investing in south-east Queensland

The south-eastern corner of Queensland is home not only to Greater Brisbane but also to the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and several large regional centres, including Ipswich. It’s a geographically and socio-economically diverse region, and its property markets performed quite differently over 2019.

‘It’s been a really mixed bag,’ says Josh Callaghan, general manager of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland. ‘Not only city by city, but also suburb by suburb. One suburb will be down 5 per cent while the suburb next door is up 5 per cent.’

However, the general trend over the past year has been flat or slightly soft. In Greater Brisbane, for example, Domain data shows house prices fell 1 per cent over the September quarter, possibly because listing volumes were low over winter. In the 12 months to September, Brisbane house prices fell only slightly further, to -1.8 per cent.

Nearby, house prices on the Gold Coast were basically flat, rising 0.2 per cent over the year to September; and prices on the Sunshine Coast were slightly down, at -0.8 per cent over the year.

One segment that performed markedly worse than trend was the Brisbane unit market, which fell 5.6 per cent over the year to September. Callaghan says chronic oversupply is to blame.

‘You certainly don’t need an economics degree to look at the charts over the past five years and see that the number of approvals has skyrocketed,’ he says. ‘A lot of that stock is now starting to come to market, but there’s not yet the demand for it.’

Callaghan reckons much of the south-east Queensland market is currently playing a waiting game. ‘All we really need is something to spark the buyer demand, and then our property market is set to soar,’ he says.

However, there were pockets of significant growth over 2019. To the south-west of Greater Brisbane, the satellite city of Ipswich delivered trend-bucking house-price growth of 6.4 per cent over the year to September.

Ipswich has emerged in recent years as one of south-east Queensland’s brightest prospects, thanks to its improved train and road links to the Brisbane CBD and an abundance of cheap land attracting a wide range of industries. Large-scale projects, such as the expansion of the Amberley RAAF base and the $5 billion Defence Force Land 400 contract, recently awarded to manufacturers Rheinmetall, have swelled the area’s economy.

‘The population growth over the past five years has been incredible,’ says Ray White Ipswich principal Warren Ramsey. ‘And it’s no longer just the employment opportunities that are attracting residents. It’s so much easier to get into Brisbane now than it used to be.’

The median house price in Ipswich remains one of the lowest in south-east Queensland, at $415,000, and current demand for housing in the area suggests it has a long way to rise. ‘Ipswich now has the lowest rental vacancy rates it’s ever had,’ says Ramsey. ‘There is a supply problem now for rental properties. Basically, if you’ve got a rental property in Ipswich in a half-decent area, you’ll get 100 per cent occupancy.’

Elsewhere in south-east Queensland, Callaghan hopes a period of strong growth is imminent. ‘Anecdotally, in the last month, as I’ve made my way around parts of south-east Queensland talking to real estate agents, I’ve heard that the third RBA interest-rate cut has created a noticeable increase in investor enquiries,’ he says.

‘I’ve also heard that there’s been an increase in the number of investment-loan commitments in Queensland. That means people are getting ready to buy – they’re gearing up.’

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Attention: Investment is subject to DHA’s lease terms and conditions of sale. Investors retain some responsibilities and risks, i.e. rent, restoration and market fluctuations. Prospective investors should seek independent advice. See dha.gov.au/lookforward for relevant information.