Brisbane October 2017

The month in review: Brisbane

By Herron Todd White
October 2017

The blooming of Brisbane as a cultural and economic centre feels like it really hit the straps in the 1980s and we’ve been progressively gaining on our once “cooler” southern cousins for some years now.

As we travel further into this century, expect to see Brisbane continue as a hub of the underground – the true hipsters of the east Coast capitals. We’ve managed to forge our own path without being too flashy, quietly getting on with the job of reinventing ourselves as a desirable urban hotspot. Sydney and Melbourne best look over their shoulder – it’s not just in the sporting arena that Queensland continues to shine.

In terms of housing, we have our long standing iconic residential constructions. There’s a reason they call our famous timber-and-tin abodes “Queenslanders” – they are as imprinted upon our landscape as pineapples and beaches. Brisbanites hold a special place in their hearts for this building type which has dominated our hills and valleys since the late 1800s. They appeal to investors and homeowners alike.

In our high-end inner suburbs, where blue-chip money looks to make its mark, the Queenslander is king and if you’ve managed to snag one sitting high on a hill and/or perched on a large piece of flat dirt, then it’s a real diamond holding. Many buyers are willing to spend hundreds of thousands, in some cases millions, of dollars renovating these properties, safe in the knowledge in the right location, it can be tough to overcapitalise.

One of the more recent movements in this renovation space is owners employing architects to create contemporary extensions on classic homes. It’s tough to faithfully reproduce these stunning cottages with modern materials, so there’s been a conscious choice to scrap that plan and go ultra-modern with a solid delineation between old and new. An excellent example is 34 Mullens Street, Hamilton which is being auctioned this month.

Into our middle ring we find many of the post war designs you’d expect in our climate. Skinny chamferboard clad 3-bed cottages from the 1960s, and lowest blonde brick 1970s homes are certainly about. While many may lack the character of the Queenslander, they do offer potential and are usually well built with tough hardwood frames that even a well struck nail has trouble piercing.

Outer suburbs are where the newer estates have been established and while the city’s fringe still has a few timber icons of the mid-1900, brick designs of the 1980s through to now are most common on the outskirts.

As to how we’ve evolved, town planning and ongoing population growth have had their place. Progressive changes to our city plan have allowed for higher and higher density housing. It’s not just units and townhouses we’re talking about here. The rise of the small lots means more families can call the inner and middle ring home. Given proximity to the CBD, café hubs and other facilities is often top of list for owners, many will compromise on land size – particularly if clever design enhances the liveability of the small space.

In the world of new builds, Brisbane designers have often drawn on Modernist elements with open plan, large glass and seamless transitions between the indoors and outdoors.

We’re also big fans of technology and any latest and greatest shiny things are well received by buyers. Interestingly though, there’s been a rise in the number of Hamptons style homes in some of our high end addresses as well. And while we do enjoy open plan in Queensland, a push by some designers to create more rooms for families to enjoy alone time is making traction as well.

In terms of units, we are becoming more accustomed to this style of living in Brisbane. We’ve had our fair share of unit dwellers for some time now, although given our comparatively large supply of developable land not far from the CBD, most residents still prefer a piece of dirt where they can fire up the barbecue.

That said there’s been a movement to unit living because they offer a more affordable option in desirable locations – perfect for first homebuyers to consider.

And while our well documented new-unit oversupply situation continues to loom large, there has been a ray of sunshine. Projects aimed at downsizing owner-occupiers are doing well. They like the low maintenance and lock-and-leave approach to living. These units are large, prestige and very, very comfortable.

Brisbane is also part of the intergenerational housing movement, with granny flats being a popular option as well. New builds in blue chip suburbs will have young adult children and dependent elders in mind, so housing that offers separate bathrooms for the many residents, as well as multiple living spaces, are becoming common. A great suburb for spotting the growth of intergenerational housing is Sunnybank in our city’s south.

Along the same vein is the rise in dual-occupancy design. These layouts have proved highly flexible for a wide range of homeowners and investors. An increase in this type of construction had been noticed in our growth corridors in particular with entire estates devoted to dual occupancy. Here’s where we offer a word of caution however – dual occupancy in these outer area estates appeal primarily to investors looking to maximise cash flow. If they become less palatable to investors due to interest rate rises or a fall in local tenant demand, then finding another investor to buy your holding could prove difficult.

As for the future of Brisbane housing, prepare to see a growing number of clever ways to get more for less. We have a very fine crop of world-class architects and designers among our residents and they’re always coming up with interesting ways to live in our sunshine city.

Speak with a Brisbane Mortgage Broker today.

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