Brisbane September 2017

The month in review: Brisbane

By Herron Todd White
September 2017

One thing remains true about Brisbane – we have all the makings of a great home-ownership location.

There’s an abundance of affordable housing on hand, an enviable lifestyle to enjoy and the cost-of-living isn’t too shabby either – particularly when compared to Sydney and Melbourne.

The downside has been jobs growth. While this figure stays subdued, less new residents than we rightly deserve are crossing the border to make Brisbane their home. History suggests things will turn around, but we are in a wait-and-see pattern at present. Our property is trading well and prospects remain positive (except for small high-rise apartments pitched at out-of-town investors. Frankly, those remain a bit dire) but until we can see a tick-up in job numbers, then don’t expect a boom.

As we’ve already alluded to, property is a relatively affordable affair here in south east Queensland, so our demographic of homeowners is broad – there really is something for everyone.

First homebuyers tend to have budgets that are sub- $500,000 and those looking for detached houses tend to haunt the city’s fringe. Big new estates to the north in North Lakes, Mango Hill and Griffin are popular. The Ripley Valley to the west has also become a ‘go to’ for young buyers, and Ipswich stalwarts such as Collingwood Park and the megadevelopment of Springfield Lakes are attractive too. Southern suburb first-time buyers are active around Logan.

As most first buyers graduate into long-term relationships and expanding families, they will generally find their income rises as well. This familybuyer set will look for a home across all areas – inner, middle or outer ring suburbs – with their budget being the determining factor in most cases. Other drivers for this demographic will be proximity to fundamentals. “Schools, shops and transport please,” would be their catch cry. Certainly, most still want the great Aussie dream – a detached home with plenty of space on a good size block so the kids can exhaust themselves running around the yard. That said, there’s a rise in the new family as well, where clever house design can allow them to adapt to a smaller plot of land. There’s even been claims that Brisbane ‘hipster’ families could be among the first generation to make apartments home to a growing brood. Certainly, this approach to housing is a distinct possibility, but while homes with land remain reasonably affordable, it’s hard to imaging these buyers flocking to attached living in great numbers. Most family homeowners would be budgeting up to the $1 million mark if they’re looking for a decent size, mid- to inner-ring home on its own block.

Empty nesters are another homeowner subset on the move. This group are looking for all the good things in life without the hassle of a large house to clean. The new generation of empty nesters who haven’t quite flown into grey nomad status, are buying good quality apartments with plenty of room for when the kids, or grandkids, want to drop in and stay over. While some fancy themselves inner urban elites, there’s also a fair chunk of this demographic enjoying the middle-ring locations as well. Most of all, facilities should be in easy reach – hospitals, shopping and transport would certainly be among the mix. Most are selling out of their long-held family home and enjoying the CGT-free outcome to purchase a quality apartment. The result is, many will fork over up to $1 million for the right type of abode, even more if they want to be right in town where the action is.

For all homeowners, there’s a difference in the elements of a property that will appeal to them when compared to the investor buyer. They want a good quality finish with plenty of space. It would be nice to enjoy low maintenance, although this won’t be a deal breaker for those who like to potter and tinker around their own bricks and mortar.

Of all the demographics at the moment, the most active buyer group seems to be the retirees. No surprise, given our ageing population is looking to downsize and enjoy themselves. For Brisbane homeowners, there have always been the coastal options too with a relocation north or south, but for those retirees that want to remain a little closer to the big smoke and the water, some might elect to choose the Redcliffe Peninsula, Redlands area or around Manly.

One of the flow-ons for Brisbane as a result of this retiree shift is the domino of home ownership upgrades. As the older generation graduates out to their retirement, families hunting for their second or third home start making their way into the inner suburbs – many with a view to renovating the stock left behind.

The other big home-ownership move we’re seeing in Brisbane is one of ‘non-home ownership’. Younger generations seeking lifestyle but keen to have a foot in the market are looking to purchase their first investment in an outer suburb –affordable, accessible and well serviced addresses – and then rent in near CBD positions where they can enjoy all the benefits that 20 and 30 year olds hanker for.

If the idea of fringe ownership is abhorrent to them, then more than a few are re-assessing their view on detached housing and instead looking to settle in a townhouse or unit. Some savvy youngsters are making second-hand unit stock in prime positions within five kilometres of the CBD their first home. If it could do with a little renovation, all the better. Their plan is to take advantage of the currently subdued market and then use the unit as a portfolio starter when it comes time to upgrade. It’s a nice idea if you have the finances and a solid long-term plan.

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