By Herron Todd White
August 2019

Sunshine Coast Property Updates

The Sunshine Coast property market is diverse. Properties cover a wide spectrum through the various sectors of units, dwellings (homes) and rural residential properties. One of the big drawcards is the coastline and the magic beaches on offer, but when you dig a little deeper, there are little pockets all over the coast.


When looking at the unit market there is no doubt the most popular spots are within a kilometre of the coast. The usual spots of Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Noosa Heads remain popular. For entry-level product, the older walk-up style units have been good as they offer low body corporate fees and are usually positioned pretty close to the beach. As you move higher up the value levels, permanent style occupancy units remain highly sought after as these have provided a real alternative for those looking to downsize from prestige dwellings. Typically, these units are larger providing at least three-bedroom accommodation with double garages.

Some coastal towns such as Coolum Beach have increased in popularity, especially for a new product. A complex within this location that is nearing completion has completely sold off the plan and the developer is looking to release a new project in this locality off the back of the increased interest.

The biggest impediment to the unit market is units in complexes with high body corporate fees.

Single unit dwellings/homes

As reported in previous issues, close to the coast, within say three to four kilometres, remains the most popular. Areas surrounding Caloundra such as Moffat Beach, Shelly Beach and Dicky Beach for the middle to prestige markets have had some good levels of growth as has the Kawana strip up to Buddina. This also continues right up the coast from Mudjimba to Noosa.

As you move further inland, opportunities arise for the entry-level markets with proximity to amenities such as schools, cafes and the like being top of mind. Railway townships from Beerwah to the south, right through to Cooroy to the north and the sense of community that these areas offer also have a good bearing.

Rural residential

For the rural residential markets, as with the inland dwelling market, proximity to amenities is also top of mind. For prestige properties, areas around Buderim continue to remain popular given their proximity to private schools and the Sunshine Coast University. Also, northern areas of the golden triangle between Tewantin, Cooroy and Eumundi continue to be popular. We add in here areas on the Blackall Range of Maleny and Montville, some of which provide good local rural, hinterland and distant coastal views.

For the entry-level rural residential market, like the housing market, railway townships can provide some good options where there remains a real ability to purchase properties at below replacement cost.

As initially mentioned, generally the Sunshine Coast property market is very diverse. We have noticed that over recent months we have started to experience a slowdown, but following on from the different market sectors, this slowdown is very much property and area-specific. You simply cannot tar everything with the same brush.

Speak with a Sunshine Coast Mortgage Broker today.

Cairns Property Updates

When it comes to property fundamentals, location is the primary consideration.

Cairns can be roughly divided into five areas, being the northern beaches, western suburbs, southern corridor, CBD and middle ring. As the area develops, more facilities become available closer to where people live rather than having to travel into the Cairns CBD. This is a good thing as the links between the fastest growing areas and the city centre have become major bottlenecks.

Your choice of location will, therefore, be influenced by the services (schools, shopping, recreation) available in the area which falls within your budget. For example, people who appreciate the beach lifestyle or are involved with surf lifesaving are probably going to live on the Cairns northern beaches. If you are after a rural lifestyle or have horses, you are more likely to live in rural residential in Gordonvale or Redlynch.

The secondary consideration is the characteristics of the actual residence. We can gain an insight into the characteristics which are most valued by looking at renovation trends and what people are doing to improve existing properties. Based on our daily interactions with renovators, the most important features are still kitchens and bathrooms as these are the first things to be modernised. Following on might be air-conditioning, addition of outdoor areas and changes to the layout to embrace more of our tropical lifestyle. More major projects may include increasing floor areas or lifting Queenslanders to create an additional level.

At the end of the day, Cairns is still an affordable option and has locations and property types which will suit most people. Buyers just need to decide which area suits their lifestyle and family best.

Speak with a Cairns Mortgage Broker today.

Rockhampton and Gladstone Property Updates

Property fundamentals at the lower end of the market in our local region appear to be shifting from what has typically been acceptable to this market sector historically. Previously, the potential for capital growth and return was a major deciding factor, however, this market sector appears to be in the process of changing. Now buyers want something affordable that requires little or no work to live in comfortably, with three-bedrooms a minimum requirement. As a result, the lower end of our market in Rockhampton (sub $250,000) has been sluggish in recent months, as most property in this price bracket requires renovation. This has however provided opportunities in the Gracemere market where modern four-bedroom homes with double garages are available in the low to mid $200,000s and three-bedroom homes are in the high $100,000s to low $200,000s. Contrary to Rockhampton, Gladstone’s lower end of the market (sub $250,000) has been fairly active over recent months and we have started to see a shift in values. Many first home buyers in Gladstone are taking advantage of the first home owner’s grant and record low land values to build new homes. A typical first home buyer package is sub $350,000 and location does not appear to matter; it’s more a case of they will build where land is available.

Buyers in the upgrader market tend to seek out better suburban locations than what is on offer to entry-level buyers. They also often are seeking room to fit the children and proximity to popular schools is always beneficial. An example of such a property might be a ten year old, on ground brick home in quiet suburbia providing four-bedroom, two-bathroom accommodation with double lock up garage. The price point for upgraders varies broadly from anywhere between $350,000 and $500,000. Upgraders in Gladstone seek similar fundamental aspects as Rockhampton, however, the range is broader at between $300,000 and $500,000.

As always in Rockhampton, there are two distinct buyer types and the alternative to the above is a renovated Queenslander in Wandal or Allenstown.

Location, location, location is the principal fundamental for the prestige market sector. Buyers active in the top end of our market typically require a premium, elevated location with a large home of top quality fit out, preferably with views. Significant ancillary improvements are also expected. The eastern slopes of the Althestane Range is an area that has long been sought after for these reasons. The Range also benefits from close proximity to Rockhampton Grammar School, public and private hospitals as well as the CBD. There are also selected areas of north Rockhampton which provide elevation, views and good quality homes. Northside still provides great access to quality schooling options and regional shopping facilities, however, is typically 15 minutes drive into the CBD. Whilst we recognise that a 15-minute commute is insignificant in larger markets, to local home buyers in our region, this is a fundamental of property location.

In Gladstone, there is no one specific suburb that is predominantly prestige. There are pockets of dress circle locations throughout Gladstone however most pockets feature elevated lots with either harbour or some sort of district views. For many years, the prestige market has been inactive in Gladstone, however, there has recently been some minor activity with two properties currently under contract at values above $1 million. Previous to these contracts, the last sale above $1 million was in 2015. We consider the prestige market in Gladstone to be upwards of $750,000.

Therefore, the underlying fundamentals in each sector have some common elements including location and presentation.

Speak with a Rockhampton Mortgage Broker today.

Bundaberg Property Updates

Property fundamentals in Bundaberg change significantly depending on price, although one fundamental is common across all sectors – location, location, location!

One of the major drawcards in the Bundaberg region is the beach and the town’s close proximity to it. At the moment, there is a lot of new good quality housing being constructed in new estates in Bargara in the sub-$500,000 range.

Apart from the sea change, the other drawcard is the rural residential tree change. In our rural residential estates such as Parklands at Branyan, there is a resurgence in the popularity of owning a larger block.

Speak with a Bundaberg Mortgage Broker today.

Mackay Property Updates

While property fundamentals in Mackay may change depending on the price range, location is one fundamental common across all sectors.

In the entry or lower markets, we are seeing most buyers looking for good bones they can add value to. The Mackay market experienced significant value loss between 2013 and 2017. Momentum has now shifted with increased market confidence and slight increases in value. This means a real chance of capital growth, which first home buyers may capitalise on. This market segment is traditionally around the sub-$300,000 and has been very active at present. For this amount, you are buying older style lowset and highset dwellings in traditional suburbs such as South Mackay, North Mackay, East Mackay and West Mackay.

For upgraders in the middle market, location becomes a big factor. Good quality executive estates are becoming more and more popular with the bounce back in the market. The market is now starting to really differentiate between good quality estates and other slightly less quality estates that have a percentage of investment stock. These dwellings are normally large rendered masonry four-bedroom, two-bathroom dwellings, with prices that start at $500,000.

The high-end market has two definite fundamentals, being location and quality of improvements. In the location group, areas that have excellent views or frontage to water are sought after and often have older-style improvements but command a premium for the location aspects. On the improvements side, we are seeing prestige estates becoming more popular, with very large prestige dwellings being constructed with extensive ancillary improvements. Both these sectors start at $800,000 and above.

Speak with a Mackay Mortgage Broker today.

Hervey Bay Property Updates

Hervey Bay is well-positioned to meet property fundamentals across all asset classes.

Our predominantly northern aspect to water means most suburbs offer some water frontage or views and those not wanting to spend top dollar can still purchase a home for sub- $500,000 one or two streets back. Sub-regional shopping in Eli Waters, Pialba and Urangan offer proximity for those who want to be near shopping and our numerous schools, both public and private, are scattered throughout the area. The Hervey Bay Public Hospital and St Stephens Private Hospital at Urraween have created a medical hub in this area where most medical or allied health professionals are purchasing within close proximity for convenience.

The entry-level property, either being 20-year-old, three-bedroom homes or new four-bedroom homes sub-$350,000 appeals to the first home buyers or investors with gross yields in the vicinity of five per cent. Mid-level property is scattered throughout Hervey Bay up to $600,000 which could be an older timber home one or two streets from the Esplanade or a half-acre lot with a large home and extensive ancillary improvements on the southern or western ends of town including Dundowran Beach and Craignish. The top-end executive homes or beachfront can exceed $1 million depending on the quality and size of the home and views on offer.

Those not wanting to mow the lawn can purchase a unit. Villa, townhouse and multi-storey complexes all offer a broad range of product. Two-bedroom villa-style units are achieving around $210,000 up to $280,000 if they are located one or two streets from the Esplanade. Three-bedroom townhouses attractive to the small family are between $280,000 and $350,000, again depending on location.

As a result of our continued population growth and taking into consideration property cycles, Hervey Bay has seen steady capital growth over a 10- to 15- year period. This coupled with our coastal lifestyle makes it an attractive location for owners and investors alike.

Speak with a Hervey Bay Mortgage Broker today.

Emerald Property Updates

The most active markets currently are $200,000 to $300,000 and over $500,000. The middle market of $350,000 to $500,000 is where many purchasers came in during the boom and where homeowners still have a negative equity situation and would like to upgrade or sell but are waiting as the market slowly climbs again. Most of the current upgraders are leaving the secondary locations in Emerald or flood-prone areas to mostly the southern side of town where the average quality of a home is usually four bedrooms, two bathrooms and under 15 years old. It’s also where the best acreage properties are situated. Most would like to upgrade to the more prestige acreage close to town and flood free which sees that end of the market start around $600,000.

Being a small town with not a lot of extracurricular activities or attractions on weekends, the average family spends a lot more time on their little patch (home and back yard) so sheds are still a big ticket item on most people’s agendas. Properties with a shed or properties with a large back yard for a shed and access to the shed from the street is a big plus. If you’re going to spend a lot of your extra time at home then the shed is always popular, hence the reason small lots sub-600 square metres in Emerald have never been taken up by the community.

Townsville Property Updates

In the current Townsville market, local home buyers are searching for a property that is well presented with limited work to be done whilst demand for a property requiring work appears less appealing. The old adage of I’d rather open a bottle of wine than a can of paint still rings true.

First home buyers appear to be looking at new home options, whilst the affordable end of the market is looking at better quality homes in secondary locations or entry-level homes in better locations closer to the city centre depending on their taste in housing style and design.

Upgraders are looking to the areas closer to the city than where they are currently located. Access to services such as shopping, employment, schools and recreational activities including bike paths and parks are other features they are considering. These upgraders are typically looking for well presented, renovated dwellings.

The prestige buyer end of the market is very much focused on location, being within close proximity of the city centre and The Strand foreshore. Elevated positions with views over Cleveland Bay or the city centre are other desirable features. This sector of the market is currently not opposed to the property requiring renovations due to the price point these options offer in an effort to get into these desirable locations.

Overall, location is one of the main fundamentals for buyers in the current market with suburbs closer to the city centre or those offering superior features by way of services and facilities to their current locations being important.

Speak with a Townsville Mortgage Broker today.

Darling Downs/Toowoomba Property Updates

Being one of the more affordable regional locations in Australia, Toowoomba and surrounding suburbs offer an opportunity for many different types of homeowners. With various industry and job opportunities, a central hub location, a diverse property market and varying segments, there are many different homeowners, whether first homeowners, families, upgraders, renovators or prestige buyers.

Older, smaller property in need of some TLC remains popular with first home buyers as they offer a blank canvas opportunity to add value and are at a much lower price point than a brand new larger house in a newly developed area. Many of these properties are located in the western suburbs and close to the CBD.

Below is an example of a 1950s property in the fringe CBD suburb of Newtown that sold in March 2019 for $222,500. The property is situated on a 615 square metre lot providing three-bedroom, one-bathroom accommodation in original condition.

Families generally seek slightly different properties to the first home buyers, with a focus on more space (ie. four bedrooms), bigger back yards and close proximity to schools. This type of housing is found throughout Toowoomba, Highfields and Westbrook, generally in the sub-$600,000 segments.

Below is an example of a circa 1900s, renovated, property in South Toowoomba that sold in October 2018 for $580,000. The property is situated on a 1,093 square metre lot providing four-bedroom, two-bathroom accommodation and located within 500 metres of Centenary Heights State High School.

Renovation has always been popular in the Toowoomba area with the market dominated by owner-occupiers. The market for potential renovation projects is quite broad across the area. Older character style homes in the circa 1900s to 1940s range have always seemed popular to buyers looking for a renovation project. These homes are predominantly character timber with detailed decorating throughout, high ceilings, timber floors and VJ walls. The majority of this product type will be found in close proximity to Toowoomba’s CBD in areas such as South, East and North Toowoomba and Newtown.

Below is an example of a circa 1930s property in original condition in East Toowoomba that sold in December 2018 for $425,000.

Suburbs encompassing the prestige sector include Middle Ridge, Rangeville, Redwood, Prince Henry Heights, Mount Lofty and East Toowoomba. These suburbs are located towards the eastern escarpment of Toowoomba, some enjoying larger lots and valley views as well as being within many of Toowoomba’s private school catchment areas.

The typical prestige property comprises open plan four-plus bedrooms, two to three bathrooms and multiple floor levels on large lots. They are generally large, highly renovated or extended older timber and brick homes, and modern architectural homes with detailed finishes, quality landscaping and some with escarpment views.

Below is an example of a property in Redwood that sold in July 2018 for $1.25 million. The property is situated on a 1,722 square metre lot, providing four-bedroom, three-bathroom accommodation featuring open plan living, a modern kitchen and Lockyer Valley views to the east. The property is located within 700 metres of Toowoomba Anglican School and Fairholme College.

Speak with a Toowoomba Mortgage Broker today.

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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is correct at the time of publishing and is subject to change. It is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, Smartline recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Smartline recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.