Regional centres set Qld property market pace

While the residential property market across the State continues to record healthy increases, it is the regional areas of north and west Queensland that are the standout performers over the March 2007 quarter.

Today’s release of the March quarter results from The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), highlights a very healthy marketplace with many areas of the State continuing to record strong growth.

Such a consistently robust marketplace, however, continues to make it extremely difficult for first home buyers. With housing affordability now at its lowest level since 1984, the REIQ encourages the State and Federal Governments to both urgently address the issue.

Queensland’s strong economy, population growth and low unemployment continue to cushion residential sales from the negative effects of the drought.

Brisbane’s median house price increased by 6.8 per cent to $390,000 in the 12 months to the end of March 2007.

REIQ chairman Peter McGrath said Brisbane’s middle ring suburbs – including Balmoral (up 17.7 per cent), Cannon Hill (12.9 per cent) Greenslopes (13.8 per cent) and Fairfield (14.9 per cent) in the south, and Banyo (up 13.9 per cent) Grange (18.6 per cent), Mitchelton (14.6 per cent) and Wooloowin (18.5 per cent) in the north – out-performed many other areas over the March quarter.

"Buyers are looking for value but still want to be relatively close to the CBD, close to their place of work, and close to entertainment precincts and the middle ring suburbs certainly offer all these attributes," he said.

"Brisbane’s middle ring eastern suburbs especially have performed very well over recent quarters and this is likely to continue."

Brisbane’s outer suburbs and shires also recorded strong results in the 12 months to the end of March with Logan’s median increasing by 11.3 per cent to $275,000 and Ipswich’s up 6.5 per cent to $245,000.

"Logan and Ipswich continue to really stand out with steady price growth and very high volumes of sales," Mr McGrath said.

"Logan and Ipswich, together with Caboolture and Pine Rivers, continue to be the most affordable options in and around Brisbane – especially for first home buyers and low income earners – and it is clear that people are still gravitating to these areas."

The Gold Coast also returned solid growth over the 12 months to the end of March, with its median house price up 5.3 per cent to $410,000.

The northern Gold Coast corridor continues to record strong growth.

However, one of the top Gold Coast performers is Bundall which recorded a 14.1 per cent rise to $757,500 in the 12 months to the end of March.

"Such a result can be attributed to Bundall’s great location and the current strong office and commercial sector. Bundall is close to all the action of Surfers Paradise, the casino, and the racetrack."

Other Gold Coast areas to perform well include Burleigh Heads (up 10.3 per cent), Palm Beach (up 12 per cent) and Surfers Paradise (up 24.7 per cent).

"With a median of $1.5 million for the year to the end of March, Surfers Paradise is still very much the heartbeat of Gold Coast real estate and one of the premier locations across the State."

Caloundra was the top performer on the Sunshine Coast in the 12 months to the end of March with a median house price rise of 3.7 per cent to $395,000. Buddina recorded a remarkable 23 per cent increase to $574,000 and Wurtulla was up 11.9 per cent to $375,000.

While the southeast corner continues to record solid increases, it is the State’s regional centres that are setting Queensland’s residential property market pace.

Central and North Queensland continue to fare very well with Rockhampton recording a very impressive 32.5 per cent rise over the 12 months to the end of March.

"Rockhampton has experienced strong growth and a high volume of sales recently and with its median house price still considered very affordable at $250,000, this is not likely to change any time soon," Mr McGrath said.

"Rockhampton’s healthy market is partly fuelled by its affordable tag and its location near resource-rich areas. When you consider Mackay and Emerald’s medians are now about $377,000 and $340,000 respectively, it is little surprise that people are heading to Rockhampton."

Mackay’s market continues to perform well with median house price growth of 14.8 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March. However the area’s strong price gains over recent years appear to have subsided with only a moderate increase recorded in the March quarter.

Gladstone is faring very well with its median house price increasing by 22.7 per cent over the 12 months to the end of March to $276,000.

The resources boom continues to underpin western Queensland’s property market with Mt Isa recording a staggering 40.4 per cent increase over the 12 months to the end of March. The mining industry also fuelled the massive 40 per cent rise in the Banana shire’s median house price over the same period with Emerald’s median also increasing 11.5 per cent.

The Dalby shire in the State’s inner south-west recorded a notable 27.9 per cent price growth over the 12 months to the end of March on the back of a number of industrial and infrastructure developments in the region.

Further north, the Whitsundays, Townsville, Thuringowa, and Cairns are all experiencing very solid growth and strong sales activity.

The Whitsundays recorded a median house price increase of 13.8 per cent over the 12 months to the end of March, with Townsville and Thuringowa up 17 per cent and 13.7 per cent respectively.

"The economic and population growth of Townsville and Thuringowa – and its subsequent impact on property prices – have excited investors and owner-occupiers alike in recent years," Mr McGrath said.

"These regions have the most affordable housing in North Queensland – with medians of $310,000 and $290,000 in Townsville and Thuringowa respectively. When you combine this with a growing economy and high levels of business confidence, the future looks very bright for these North Queensland twin cities."

The Cairns residential property market remains healthy with a rise of 12.3 per cent to $320,000 in the 12 months to the end of March.

"The steady price growth and increasing volume of sales augurs particularly well for the Cairns market."

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of