Regional QLD October 2017

The month in review: Regional QLD

By Herron Todd White
October 2017

Toowoomba Property Review

Toowoomba and surrounding suburbs have a very diverse range of housing types to suit a variety of home owners and investors. Typically the more established areas in close proximity to the CBD consist mostly of older character timber and brick dwellings with housing type and design being more recent moving further out from the city centre. There does not appear to be a distinct preference for housing types or areas among home owners with many households having varying requirements and budgets. Older character homes close to the CBD always prove to be popular as do new brick homes in recent sub-divisions. Investors appear to gravitate toward newer housing, predominantly in newer areas at the fringes of the city, seeking lower maintenance and acquisition costs.

In the past five to ten years there has been a substantial increase in unit, townhouse, dual occupancy and small lot housing constructed in the immediate Toowoomba area. Attached housing and detached housing on small lots are tending to grow in popularity with home owners and investors, particularly in the older areas close to the CBD. The dream of having a big back yard appears to be changing. Many infill blocks have been subdivided into smaller lots or have had unit complexes or townhouses built on them. Recent subdivisions have also seen smaller lots come to the market offering anywhere between 180 and 500 square metres. Naturally, compact housing designs have been utilised to maximise the use of the land areas.

Although the unit market is dominated by single residents and renters, the small lot and unit product appears to be gaining interest from all sorts of households including empty nesters looking to downsize, small families and first home buyers seeking affordability. Despite tightened lending criteria and rising living costs making property ownership more difficult, there does not appear to be any significant changes in household composition (eg. accommodating more people under the one roof). This may change over time.

The Toowoomba region also has a strong rural residential market, ranging from acre lots to larger lifestyle properties capable of accommodating horses and cattle. These properties are almost exclusively owner-occupied.

Housing will continue to evolve into the future and we will most likely see a continued interest and supply of smaller housing with what appears to be a slowly changing mindset of larger housing and big back yards. As technologies and efficiencies increase in building products, we will continue to see an evolution in building materials and housing design.

Below are some examples of different styles of housing throughout Toowoomba and surrounding areas.

toowoomba Property Review oct 2017
4 Hamilton Dr Vale View Source: The home page.com.au

Recent build with modern design and materials. Currently on the market.

 Property Review toowoomba
86 Bridge Street East Toowoomba Source: RPData

Circa 1900s build with colonial features sold on 24 February 2017 for $635,000.

19 Carlin Street Glenvale Source: RPData

Circa 2015 build on small lot with modern features sold on 11 December 2014 as vacant land for $123,500.

Sunshine Coast Property Review

As with most areas around the country, the Sunshine Coast has a wide and varied range of property types. From coastal areas to inland townships, from small acreage to large rural parcels, the Sunshine Coast can cater for all tastes. When looking at the changing building styles that have evolved over the years, we have focused on the coastal and railway/ hinterland townships.

The oldest areas of the Sunshine Coast are these railway/hinterland townships located about 15 minutes from the coastline. The main reason they were first settled is because of the access provided by the railway line heading north up the Queensland coast. Dwellings are typically pre and post war dwellings of timber construction which then evolve into the 1950s and 1960s fibro housing that many of us have seen around the country. The 1970s and 1980s gave rise to clay brick dwellings. As these hinterland townships were mostly modest working class centres, dwellings reflected this. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that we started to see larger more expensive dwellings of high quality.

The coastal areas of Caloundra, Maroochydore and to a lesser extent Noosa Heads took prevalence in the 1950s and 1960s.

The rise of the holiday house or beach shack saw the Sunshine Coast grow into a favoured holiday destination. Typically of fibro construction, they were modest but they absolutely served their purpose. Mirroring the railway townships, the 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of clay brick dwellings. However, given that access to the coastline had improved, larger, more expansive dwellings were popping up well before the railway/ hinterland townships.

Throughout the 2000s houses definitely evolved into more contemporary designs with the use of architectural materials and design features. Over recent years, small lot housing has grown significantly to help the affordability issues surrounding home ownership. Multi occupancy properties have become increasingly popular with extended families.

The unit market has seen significant evolution as well. Complexes through the 1970s were low rise/ walk up style of up to around three levels. These were typically modest in nature and once again were catering for the holiday market. Through the 1980s and into the 1990s the low rise unit complexes transformed into medium and high rise unit product. They were providing all the services and amenities that you would find in a capital city and in some cases provided a permanent living alternative to a house. This continued throughout the 2000s to where unit complexes were providing high quality accommodation and significant amenities.

As you can see the Sunshine Coast provides a diverse range of property types that caters for everyone. While styles change, one thing remains constant – the Sunshine Coast is a great place to live.

Bundaberg Property Review

Bundaberg and coastal surrounds like other neighbouring centres have seen a variety of different dwelling styles over the past decades. The 1970s saw high set hardiplank/brick style to onground brick homes during the 1980s and 1990s.

At present, the conventional brick/rendered home still remains in style due to being reasonably priced and able to individually style carpets, tiles, laminate/ stone, colours etc.

The traditional new brick home is mostly built through local builders and a small number sold as house and land packages. They also appeal to investors as they are low maintenance, in the lower to mid price bracket and offer great tax depreciation opportunities. New stock of this type is typically within the new subdivisions. Lot sizes are on average 600 to 800 square metres.

Hervey Bay Property Review

The Fraser Coast has seen a variety of different dwelling styles over the past four decades with predominantly high set, hardiplank/brick style homes in the 1970s through to onground brick homes during the 1980s and 1990s. At present, the conventional brick/rendered home remains the most popular dwelling style due to affordability and personal preference factors. The traditional new brick home (usually sold as a house and land package) appeals to investors as they are low maintenance and generally in the lower to mid price bracket. New stock of this type is typically within the new subdivisions located on the fringe. Lot sizes are now reduced to 300 to 600 square metres with council keen to promote more efficient higher density living. The traditional timber Queenslander is few and far between in Hervey Bay, with this dwelling style dominating nearby Maryborough (known as the Heritage City).

The Fraser Coast Regional Council has been keen to promote smaller lot sizes within older central suburbs and currently has discounted infrastructure charges to support this incentive. Dual living homes have recently been popular with investors, with the dwelling designed with 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom accommodation on one side and an attached 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom unit on the other, each with a single built-in garage. This particular dwelling is useful for large families with older children or parents living in the attached unit. Rental returns have been very attractive, however we are yet to see a resale of this type of dwelling.

Emerald Property Review

Emerald’s traditional housing styles are Queenslanders and worker’s cottages. The largest growth period came in the late 1970s through to the early 1990s when mining companies built thousands of high-set 3-bedroom homes and slab on ground 4-bedroom homes. The prominent part of each property in Emerald is the size of the land. Emerald has not taken to smaller lots under 600 square metres and in general has been prepared to pay a premium for lot sizes above 900 square metres. Most like room for a shed or pool and it’s just become the normal part of any new subdivision in Emerald to have generous sized lots. Nearly all new housing is a slab on ground 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom brick home.

Rockhampton and Gladstone Property Review

The evolution of residential housing in both Gladstone and Rockhampton has been gradual as technology and trends have shaped the way we live. The earlier suburbs in both towns were dominated by Queenslander style homes and worker’s cottages. As newer suburbs emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, it was the project high set or two-storey home predominantly being constructed, and more recently, suburbs are largely slab on ground brick veneer homes. Walking through a Queenslander or worker’s cottage, it’s immediately noticeable that the layout is significantly different from modern housing, with the older style homes heavily compartmentalised, which is in stark contrast to the modern open plan homes of today. Various suburbs are dominated with certain styles of home and depending on the buyer’s preference for the style of the home, it can often determine where they live. Finding old Queenslanders in the newer suburbs of Norman Gardens in Rockhampton and Kirkwood in Gladstone is very difficult, but on The Range and Gladstone Central they are plentiful.

The size of the land also varies depending on where and when the land was developed. The more sought after areas in the older suburbs were predominantly owned by wealthier owners who could afford larger parcels of land, however the worker’s cottages typically had smaller parcels of land. As both towns have developed, the size of the home and land has been reflective of the economy at that time. Prosperous times have resulted in larger homes and conservative periods smaller homes.

Furthermore, in areas where homes were constructed for investors, dwelling sizes and lot sizes are smaller than those built for owner-occupiers.

There has been a consistent theme however, that the further away from the city people have to live, they either want to be compensated by the size of the land, the price or sometimes both. Abnormally small allotments in the outer lying areas have been trialed in the past, with limited demand from local residents. Those seeking smaller allotments have typically tended towards the inner city.

As the population of Gladstone and Rockhampton increases, so too will the rise in apartment living. The earlier high rise units in Rockhampton’s CBD were predominantly created for retirees or grazing families, however during the mining boom a number of smaller 1-bedroom or dual key units targeted at investors were constructed. The target market has now gone the full cycle, with new units currently being constructed reverting back to the target market of owner-occupiers with predominantly 2- plus bedrooms of a larger size. Gladstone has differed somewhat to Rockhampton in this regard, as most of the units were predominantly constructed during the resources boom and targeted at investors with both short term and long term accommodation.

In the foreseeable future, families won’t be moving into units as the allure of space and the price of detached housing remains relatively affordable. Housing in Gladstone and Rockhampton has changed over time, however economic, environmental, technological and social factors will shape the homes of tomorrow.

Mackay Property Review

Mackay was founded in 1869 and therefore has a mix of housing styles from Queenslanders right through to modern housing.

Some of Mackay’s housing was destroyed by natural disasters, however Queenslanders and cottages still stand today. As time evolved, housing followed suit alongside regulations, with roof heights lowering through the times and building standards also evolving to withstand local weather events such as cyclones. The different ages and change in housing can be spotted between suburbs, from Queenslanders and cottages, to 1960 to 1980 high set butterbox houses and then to modern homes, generally on-ground rendered block dwellings. It’s unforeseen that building materials will change in the immediate future due to the local weather conditions and events.

During the infamous mining boom time, there was a call for more housing due to a shortage and as a result cheaper housing developments were approved, which meant smaller blocks and dwellings were built very close, if not on the adjoining boundaries. Some may argue these developments were approved too late as shortly after, the down turn occurred, with sales activity in the smaller block developments now very limited.

Alternatively, sales activity has increased within the suburbs that have the average back yard with some purchasers seeking Queenslanders or butterboxes and others seeking to build new modern dwellings. All in all, there is a variety of housing to suit everyone’s needs, from older to newer dwellings from the coastline to the bushland.

Whitsunday Property Review

The Whitsundays was a small seaside community, however with the growth of tourism, saw unit developments in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the early 2000s however all markets in the Whitsundays suffered with the global financial crisis. There is the urban sprawl with the construction of slab on ground dwelling located in the suburbs of Cannonvale, Cannon Valley and Jubilee pocket. There are also numerous pole and high set dwellings located on steep sloping lots to take advantage of the ocean and island views. So all in all we have many different styles of dwellings and units that all depend on the individual at the time.

The Whitsundays is still in construction mode as works begin and some are finalised as we start to move past the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Townsville Property Review

Over the past 15 years the average land size in Townsville has declined by around 30% from 719 square metres in 2002 to the current lot size of 508 square metres. This decline in land size has been driven by a number of factors including lifestyle as consumers want smaller lots requiring less yard maintenance and the ability to offer competitively priced products.

We have seen in the suburban developments, particularly over the past five years the return of smaller homes with single garages on lot sizes, some under 200 square metres. This product is price point appealing, particularly to first home buyers and investors with entry starting well under $300,000 for a new 3-bedroom home with a single garage.

Within the fringing inner city there are two small lot developments, having a combined overall median lot size to date of 250 square metres. These developments offer an alternative to unit living with a small yard area for pets, while still being in close proximity to The Strand and entertainment precincts. Housing design for small lot construction has evolved from the early 2000s when we saw the construction of town cottage style dwellings on these smaller lots, to now include a mix of more innovative design ideas.

Energy efficient building products have been around for a number of years now and many homes in the Townsville area have solar panels and other energy efficient technology. With the rollout of the NBN, the ongoing push for improving energy consumption and the ongoing water shortages currently being experienced in Townsville, we may over the coming years see a further push for improving efficiencies in the home.

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