Regional QLD May 2018

The month in review: Regional QLD

By Herron Todd White
May 2018

Toowoomba / Darling Downs

Whilst other market segments in Toowoomba have been soft in recent times; the prestige sector has been performing strongly, particularly in East Toowoomba.

The prestige market for $1 million-plus properties continues to show signs of strong interest and sales results but is limited in supply. An analysis of all house sales recorded in the Toowoomba Regional Council area during 2017 reveals only 1.9% made the plus $1million sales. Units considered to be prestige exceeding $500,000 are also proving more desirable than previously; with retirees requiring lower maintenance properties in prestige locations.

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

The typical prestige property comprises open plan 4 plus bedrooms, 2 to 3 bathrooms and multiple floor levels on large lots. They are generally large, highly renovated and/or extended older timber and brick homes, and modern architectural homes with detailed finishes, quality landscaping and most with escarpment views.

The prestige sector in Toowoomba also extends to rural residential properties. Many of these comprise large modern homes with extensive site improvements including shedding, stables, fencing, water storage and landscaping. With Toowoomba having a strong health sector, it is no surprise that medical professionals have dominated the prestige market in recent years and this trend is likely to continue.

Professional workers tend to occupy areas such as the above mentioned eastern suburbs. Toowoomba has also proven to be a popular location attracting retirees from the broader south-west Queensland area.

At the last census, the proportion of 60+ year olds in Toowoomba was 23.6% versus 18.8% for Queensland and 19.6% for Australia. This demographic mix supports the health sector.

Below are some examples of strong sales with an uplift in value.

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This example of a prestige dwelling near Prep and Fairholme schools recorded a 7.5% uplift in value in less than 12 months, rising from $2m in Nov 2016 to $2.15m in Oct 2017.

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Modern resort style homes in the north-eastern corner of Mount Lofty have also seen stronger buyer inquiry over the last 12 months.

This property reflected a 10% increase in value in just over 2 years, rising from $1,045,000 in Oct 2015 to $1,151,000 in Feb 2018.

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Another Mount Lofty example of a range escarpment property that showed a 24% value uplift over a 2 year time frame.

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This example of a prestige property in Westbrook south of Toowoomba recorded a 48% uplift in value in two years, rising from $1.45m in Jan 2016 to $2.15m in Jan 2018.

Sunshine Coast

When looking at prestige properties on the Sunshine Coast the one thing you can say is that it has ‘all been happening’. Buyer demand is strong with the stock levels being low in turn leading to upward pressure being placed on prices.

When defining the Sunshine Coast prestige market, the $1 million mark has always been considered the starting point. Just like lower-priced entry-level properties, the entry levels of the prestige market, between $1 million to $1.5 million have been the most popular. As this sector of the market took off we have seen a fuse being lit. Activity has picked up right through the value bands all the way to the three record-breaking transactions that occurred in the space of four months. The most popular areas in the prestige market have continued to be coastal locations.

When looking at the coast you can break it up by the old shire council regions being Caloundra to the south, Maroochy to the central area and Noosa to the north. There is no doubt that beachside and canal front areas have all been performing really well. Suffice to say they aren’t making any more of these property types which should hold owners in good stead. When looking at the prestige rural residential/ lifestyle market, things are a bit different. This market is little hard to gauge as it is very property specific with personal preferences presentation and motivation of both purchases vendor is having an impact on the ultimate sale price. Therefore wider market parameters should be expected than those experienced for more traditional residential properties.

An interesting observation in this lifestyle market is that proportionally, values for smaller acreage prestige properties have performed better than the larger acreage counterparts. It appears that the cost to run these larger acreage properties have had a bearing on the market that does sometimes struggle to get its ‘head around’ what’s involved.

For units, we have seen a flight to larger permanent occupancy style product. The main market operating in this area is the ‘empty nester’s that are looking to downsize and have a property where they can ‘lock and leave’ and go travelling etc. Within the resort/holiday space, we have also started to see the Hasting Street beachfront units come back but still a bit off from the last market peak.

The improvement in the prestige/higher end properties has historically been driven by a high percentage of interstate investors from Sydney and Melbourne. This is especially the case in the Noosa region. The relative affordability, when you compare Sydney and Melbourne prices to those of the Sunshine Coast, demonstrate pretty good value. It also appears that Sunshine Coast is pretty high on a number of the list of the baby boomers that have started to retire.

As aforementioned, there have been three record sale prices that have transacted in the space of four months. First off we had 29 Wyuna Drive, Noosaville sold in October 2017 for $10.3 million (Listed for $11.9 million) which was on the market for 351 days. Next was 46 Seaview Terrace Sunshine Beach, which sold for $15.2 million (Listed for $18 million) in January 2018 and was on the market for approximately 581 days, Finally 21 Webb Road, Sunshine Beach sold in February 2018 for $18 million (Listed for $22 million) after being on the market for only 52 days. It is our understanding that the purchases for each of the properties were highly successful business people that had effectively sold large businesses. The ‘ultraprestige’ sector is more a matter of timing rather than anything else and tends to be more active during periods of stronger M&A activity.

The question that we always get when we looking at the prestige markets is that – is the current growth that we are experiencing sustainable? There is no doubt that the prestige market is heavily linked to the wider economy which has been performing well. We do however have a history of volatility (up to 40% in some cases) in this market given that these properties are ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs.’ I mean, is there anything more discretionary than a multimillion-dollar holiday home?

The big positive at the moment is that the Sunshine Coast appears to be ‘on a lot of people’s lips’ and while the economy keeps performing well and barring any unforeseen incidents, the prestige market should keep chugging along for a little while yet.

Harvey Bay

Prestige and ultra prestige properties are scattered throughout Hervey Bay however most are located along the waterfront or in elevated hillside locations offering expansive views. Prestige property pricing generally starts at $750,000 and ultra-prestige at north of $1 million.

Hervey Bay’s market has seen an increase in the volume of sales in the prestige market with 23 settled sales since January 2017. This total includes six settled sales over the past six months. In addition, there are a reported six properties currently under contract within this price range. These sales have occurred from Toogoom beachfront locations, Dundowran Beach and the Esplanade in Hervey Bay. Market drivers that have influenced this sector of the market appear to be from the medical sector and cashed up locals.

Over the same period, there have been five sales over $1 million, with the highest price achieved being $1.4 million for an Esplanade property in Point Vernon. In addition there is a report that a penthouse unit is currently under contract for in excess of $1.2 million. To conclude, we feel that short to mid term, demand for prestige property will remain steady as supply meets demand. Competition to attract a buyer is strong which means pricing is critical to achieve a sale.

Emerald

The prestige market in Emerald is over the $450,000 mark for residential and over $650,000 for rural residential. Supply is currently thin while demand is fair. Prestige properties in Emerald will typically give you a large, modern, 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in a good location with high quality fit out and pool or shed.

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Whitsundays

Prestige and ultra-prestige in the Whitsundays are ocean front properties and properties with uninterrupted views over the Whitsundays. We have recently had a sale of $14 million with a rumour that there is another sale pending at $10 million. Sales at this level have been missing from the Whitsundays for some time now.

This is a real positive sign for the area following the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Debbie. (The area is still in recovering one year on and it is expected that the insurance companies will still be here for another year.)

There are also sales for vacant beachfront reserve vacant lots from $800,000 to $1.4 million (with a marine berth) over the past 18 months. Prestige units are slow at this time and have been for some time now in Airlie Beach, but Hamilton Island is showing great sales with the market moving with confidence.

Most of the buyers are interstate with some locals upgrading.

Mackay

The top end of the Mackay market is generally considered to be properties over $800,000, with prestige starting at the magical $1 million mark.

The Mackay residential market, as avid readers of this column would know, has seen significant reductions in values relating to the downturn in the resource sector. The prestige market has not been immune from these reductions and we saw activity in this sector fall sharply.

In the past 18 months however, there seemed to be a comeback in the top end and prestige markets, with sales activity increasing on the back of renewed confidence, but most importantly the value points and what you can now get in these price brackets. Recent prestige house sales have been at prices below replacement cost.

In the past 18 months we have seen 11 sales recorded over $1 million with two properties recording sales at $1.4 million and $1.42 million respectively. One of these properties was located at Lynette Drive, a prestige rural residential enclave located just on the outskirts of Mackay on elevated parcels of land. This property was taken to auction and received spirited bidding before selling under the hammer.

Since the start of 2018, the highest known sale is another rural residential dwelling located at Richmond on the outskirts of Mackay.

It comprises a fully renovated part 2 storey dwelling, with large pool and sheds, offering panoramic ocean, distant island and city views. This property has reportedly sold for $1.3 million.

Another notable sale was a large executive style 2 storey dwelling on near ocean front land at Shoal Point selling in late 2017 for $1.1 million.

The renewed confidence in the prestige market is also seen by the quality and scale of new dwellings being constructed, particularly in estates such as Settlers Rise at Erakala and Emma and Shuttlewood Drive in Richmond. A number of large executive style houses are currently under construction or recently completed.

Gladstone

The prestige market sector in Gladstone is very thinly traded. We consider that this sector starts at around the $700,000 mark. There has been only one sale above this mark in the past six months—a dwelling in an established area of New Auckland sold for $720,000 in January.

This home provided 5-bedrooms, 3-bathrooms, high quality fittings throughout, a large shed and pool. Prior to this, there were several large rural residential properties that sold in 2016 for above $850,000. The last million dollar plus home sold in Gladstone in 2015.

Just like the rest of the market, the prestige sector has seen sharp declines in value over the past several years. Most buyers in this sector are locals who are upgrading.

Rockhampton

This month we are delving into the prestige property market of our region. 2017 sales records indicate that only between 2% and 3% of all residential properties sold above $700,000, putting them into our prestige price bracket. As we delve further into this we are going to focus on the very best of the best looking at sales above $1 million which is well below 1% of total homes sold. I think most people would straight away envisage the beaches, off shore island and sparkling ocean views along the Capricorn Coast however to many readers’ surprise, much of the recent activity has been focused on the older established South Rockhampton residential suburb of The Range, sitting high above the CBD, with easterly views back to the Berserker Ranges and Mt Archer, protection from the afternoon westerly sun and oozing character and charm in amongst the maze of Queenslander style homes, some dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. There have been a number of sales above $1 million in recent months, none more publicised than the grand old home at 3 Athelstane, an expansive two storey Queenslander style home that has been fully renovated with a large inground pool, 4-bay shed on an elevated 1770 square metre parcel of land which sold shortly after auction for just under the $1.4 million mark earlier this year.

Our enquiries and searches reveal the following sales profile that HTW considers indicates the number of genuine residential property sales above $1 million in Rockhampton during the past six years.

  • 2012 – 1 sale (1,000,000)
  • 2013 – 1 sale (1,350,000)
  • 2014 – 1 sale (1,080,000)
  • 2015 – 4 sales (highest 1,500,000)
  • 2016 – 2 sales (highest 1,225,000)
  • 2017 – 2 sales (highest 1,375,000)
  • 2018 – 1 sale to date (highest 1,370,000)

As you can see by the above profile, the Rockhampton market appears to be capped at $1.5 million. In fact it’s the highest price ever received for a home in Rockhampton and it has occurred twice, previously in 2009. Many have marketed their homes over the years for a higher figure but buyers have been few and far between refusing to pay any more. In addition to the residential houses listed above, we also saw in 2017 a small number of penthouse units on the riverfront sell for close to $1.2 million which appears to be a popular option for older retiring couples not wanting the upkeep a house may require. Oh and yes to those readers still thinking of the blue waters along the Capricorn Coast, there have been a number of sales at above the $1 million dollar mark, usually older beach front properties in well sought after locations such as Cooee Bay or more modern homes in elevated positions with ocean views such as Lammermoor or Taranganba. For example we recently saw the property at 66 Ocean Parade in Cooee Bay sell for $1.4 million. The property is a modern three story home located directly opposite the beach with an in-ground pool.

Finally it appears as though this sector has been performing well in the past 12 months and we anticipate this to continue albeit the percentages are likely to remain well below 1% for the foreseeable future.

Townsville

The current prestige residential market in Townsville is relatively shallow topping out at $2.5 million, with the majority of prestige stock falling within the $1 million to $2 million price range. The inner city suburbs of Castle Hill, North Ward, Townsville City and Rowes Bay typically account for most of this prestige stock. We have seen just over 20 settled residential sales occur over the past 12 months priced at $1 million and over, with 86% being for property priced under $1.5 million and just one sale over $2 million.

This style of property in Townsville typically offers views and aspect to Cleveland Bay, well above average level of accommodation and fit out and overall improvements including features such as pools, architectural design and good outdoor living areas, along with extensive living/floor space, some upwards of 400 square metres.

Overall the residential market is currently positioned at the start of recovery stage with median sale prices soft. The prestige market is limited in depth and due to the price bracket attracts a smaller number of market participants. The inner city location of a large majority of the prestige stock is a desirable feature, however we find personal preference, presentation and motivations of both parties often impacts on the ultimate sale price achieved

Bundaberg

This month we are looking at what we consider to be prestige and ultra-prestige residential in our area. Let’s begin by classifying what we see as the price points for these subclasses of residential property.

The $700,000 plus price is what we consider to be prestige residential and $900,000 and above is what we consider to be ultra-prestige.

Firstly we’ll explore the detached housing sector. In the past six months we have seen seven properties sell at over the $700,000 mark and four properties sell at over the $900,000 mark. Of the four sales over $900,000, two were over the $1 million mark.

If you were to ask whereabouts these sales occurred you could generally say along the Burnett River, along Branyan Drive and Bocks Road, Corser Street, Burnett Heads and also oceanfront properties at Bargara and Coral Cove.

An example of a recent sale is in Corser Street, Burnett Heads where the property sold for $1.08 million and benefits from uninterrupted views and frontage to the Burnett River, a floating pontoon and jetty to moor your boat. The property comprises a circa 2012, two storey, 5-bedroom, 2-bathroom, detached contemporary dwelling with a 2-car built in garage.

Moving on to unit sales, in the past six months there have been six units sold at over the $800,000 mark. All of the unit sales in the prestige sector occurred in Bargara along the waterfront esplanade with ocean views. Four of the six sales occurred in a complex called Silverpoint located adjacent to the central hub of Bargara. Most of the buyers have been cashed up locals.

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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.