By Herron Todd White
September 2019

Sunshine Coast Property Updates

As is common in most regional areas, the Sunshine Coast property market is heavily reliant on population increases. This is good news as the Sunshine Coast has traditionally been one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. The graph below shows the population growth history of the Sunshine Coast in recent years.

When we then look at the volume of residential property sales taking place on the Sunshine Coast in recent years, the correlation between population growth and sale volumes can be seen. This graph shows that in 2003 when the population spiked, sale volumes were highest, then in 2011 when the growth rate bottomed out, sale volumes followed accordingly.

It’s pretty hard to say if any one area is attracting more out of towners than others. Most of our locations on the Coast seem to be having their fair share of new arrivals into their communities though it would be fair to say that suburbs along the coastline would be top of the list.

Given the increased demand for housing, we mainly the upgrade to the Bruce Highway. Travel times have been lessened and the affordability in the area has made it very popular. The inner rural residential ring around the township has increased in demand as have some of the character houses in town. As a result, some new businesses have been opening up in a number of industries.

The increase in population of the Sunshine Coast assists in underpinning property values. The issue then lies in jobs and infrastructure. It is good that the University Hospital is not at full capacity, the new airport runway is yet to be finished and we have a new town centre, however just driving around the Coast, you do feel that there are more and more people on the roads. It used to be in holiday periods but now feels like it’s all the time. The question is whether those roads and other services will keep up with the growth.

Speak with a Sunshine Coast Mortgage Broker today.

Rockhampton Property Updates

Rockhampton has long been a hub for the mining and agricultural industries, providing opportunity for both the labour and skilled workforce to relocate. Unfortunately, during the past decade, population growth has stagnated in this region due to a number of factors, with fly-in fly-out (FIFO) being one of the notable ones.

In more recent times however, an increase in large scale infrastructure projects being approved by state and federal government has contributed to some medium to longer term job opportunities where FIFO becomes difficult for family orientated workers and the prospect of relocating the family on a more permanent basis is now a real alternative for some.

It appears that the majority of this migration will choose to rent for a period before considering buying and in the past 12 months, we have seen the vacancy rate across Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast reduce significantly, with many managing agents reporting non-local tenants moving for new work opportunities.

Other factors that come into play for people making these decisions include the affordability factor which is generally more appealing than in the major cities combined with the Central Queensland lifestyle on offer with warmer weather, slower paced lifestyle, minimal traffic issues and an expansive outdoor playground providing a huge variety of recreational and sporting opportunities.

So, with this in mind, those opting for a sea change should definitely give the Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast some consideration – you will not regret it.

Speak with a Rockhampton Mortgage Broker today.

Gladstone Property Updates

The Gladstone market has always been particularly susceptible to population movements. We draw attention to history, where the commencement of large projects within the Gladstone region resulted in population surges, resulting in high demand during construction, followed by periods of lower demand, resulting in volatility in the residential market.

The Gladstone market is slowly starting to recover after the last boom and bust period. Affordability is currently driving the market with values having dropped to figures last seen in the early 2000s. We have noticed an influx of interstate purchasers over the past 12 months. Many have the ability to sell their Sydney or Melbourne home and purchase a substantial home here with the added benefit of being able to enjoy the sunny Queensland coastal lifestyle.

Mackay Property Updates

This month, we take a look at out of towners and the role of population movements on the Mackay market.

Mackay had a significant period of growth on the back of the resource sector, from 2003 to the height of the period which ended around 2013. In this period, the population of Mackay increased from around 90,000 to just under 119,000 people. This increase in population resulted in large increases in property values, tightening of rental vacancies and general prosperity of the Mackay economy. As well as the increase in population, we saw a large influx of out of town investors purchasing house and land packages to help meet the demand. After 2013, we saw a downturn in the resource sector which had a major impact on the Mackay economy. This downturn led to significant job losses, the advent of fly-in, fly-out employment and the flow on effects to the whole Mackay economy. This flow on effect saw residential vacancy rates climb from below 1% to a high of 9.4%; residential values fell between 20% and 30% and the population of Mackay fell for the first time in over ten years.

Fast forward to today and the bounce back of the resource sector, large infrastructure projects such as the Mackay Ring Road, Eton Range Bypass and Peak Downs Highway upgrade has seen increased employment opportunities across the region.

Figures show that the population stabilised during 2017 and has started to increase since. This increase in population, employment opportunities and general optimism in the Mackay economy is already being felt in the Mackay residential market. Vacancy rates have been steadily falling since 2017 and currently sit just below 2%. Rental values have also started to increase on the back of this increased demand. This increase has seen Mackay as one of only a few regions that was listed as cheaper to buy than rent. This in turn has seen demand for purchase of residential dwellings increase. Most agents have reported increased buyer demand for almost 12 months, with shorter times listed on the market.

The Mackay market is still affordable, relatively speaking, with only minor increases in market values seen over this period, however with record low interest rates and continued employment opportunities in the region, it is considered that population growth will continue into the short and medium-term future, putting greater upward pressure on rental and market values across the region.

Speak with a Mackay Mortgage Broker today.

Hervey Bay Property Updates

The Fraser Coast population continues to increase at a slow, steady pace with the years between 2015 and 2018 fluctuating at between 1.16% and 2.03%. Growth projections for the Fraser Coast population have been forecast to increase from 108,543 in 2019 to 147,099 in 2036, equating to an overall 35.52% rise and an additional 22,800 dwellings.

Recent migration trends have been led by retirees, as well as families of both young and older parents. These new residents have largely migrated from other south-east Queensland municipalities, including Gympie and South Burnett areas. Affordability is seen as a major driver for population growth with particular focus on the coastal lifestyle. There is also demand for dual occupancy properties for older parents or young adults residing with combined incomes that improves affordability for housing.

The Fraser Coast Regional Council considers the area to have a large supply of future residential land with targeted areas such as Hervey Bay – South West and the Nikenbah-Dundowran Future Growth Area, located on the fringes. Burrum Heads, Toogoom, Craignish and Dundowran Beach have also been identified. Closer to Maryborough, modest growth is expected for the western and southern hinterland for rural residential estates and areas near the Bruce Highway.

Speak with a Hervey Bay Mortgage Broker today.

Emerald Property Updates

Emerald had a relatively stable population during the mining downturn from 2013 to 2017. As the market has strengthened again since 2018, we are not noticing a large influx of out of town purchasers in the property market.

A large proportion have entered the rental market first. The majority of purchasers are local or from nearby towns moving around for work. We have definitely not seen the work migration from the south buying and living locally yet.

Some who are renting have decided that mortgage rates versus renting has swung in favour of a mortgage and have purchased but this is by far not the norm yet. Sales turnover remains steady as fly in, fly out work continues to put a handbrake on any rapid market uptake.

Townsville Property Updates

Population growth is a major driver of the property market with jobs and job security underpinning this growth.

Over the period 2015 to 2018, we saw population growth occurring at a rate significantly below the long-term average of 1.9%. Over the same period, we saw unemployment rates in the Townsville region trending well above the state unemployment rate.

During 2019, we have seen a strong pick-up in the number of jobs being advertised on employment websites for the Townsville region with the unemployment rate reducing. This increasing trend in the number of jobs being advertised bodes well for net employment creation during the coming months.

Currently our residential market is being driven by local dynamics, however a tight rental market coupled with affordable median house prices means we are seeing anecdotally some increased interest from investors.

The Townsville region has a large pipeline of major projects proposed or under construction including Stage 2 of the Haughton Water Pipeline Duplication, Port of Townsville channel widening project and the proposed lithium-ion battery facility. These current and proposed projects will consolidate economic recovery, with real job creation that will offer long term employment and job security needed to retain and encourage population growth more in line with our long-term average growth rate and in turn drive the property market.

Speak with a Townsville Mortgage Broker today.

Darling Downs/Toowoomba Property Updates

In the 1981 census, the Toowoomba region had a population of 94,605. The population has been steadily increasing since then, with the latest census (2016) recording the population of the Toowoomba region at 160,779 and a growth rate of 0.9% per annum in the past five years. This trend however, is well below the Queensland growth rate of 1.5%.

Toowoomba has proven to be a popular location attracting retirees from the broader south-west Queensland area. At the last census, the proportion of 60-plus year olds in Toowoomba was 23.6% versus 18.8% for Queensland and 19.6% for Australia. This demographic mix supports the health sector which, along with the education sector, is forecast to enjoy continued strong growth in the region.

With Toowoomba being an hour and a half from Brisbane, the desire to move out of home and study in the larger universities is apparent. This has seen a decline in the population of young adults (20 to 39 year olds) within the region as they often continue residing outside of Toowoomba post their studies to start their careers. It’s not until their peak professional career age (45 to 59) that we see an increase in population, as many former locals return home with an established family and steady income, seeking lifestyle and quality schooling.

This exodus of young people and influx of established families is reflected in the composition and performance of the Toowoomba residential property market. Toowoomba has a low level of unit and townhouse development and only a moderate level of affordable first home owner estates in comparison to other major regional centres. The prestige market however, has been performing strongly, particularly in the eastern suburbs where many established families reside, being close to schools and public infrastructure.

The higher proportion of older residents is also reflected in the current high level of retirement and aged care product being developed. Population and demographics are certainly playing a role in the performance and shape of the Toowoomba residential property market.

Speak with a Toowoomba Mortgage Broker today.

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