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Brisbane residents who stayed put after 2011 flood claw back house values

Brisbane residents

Ten years after the devastating Brisbane flood in which thousands of residents lost their homes and possessions, house prices are back up, but signs of the catastrophe remain.

It was a disaster on an unprecedented scale — 36 people died and about 30,000 Queensland homes and businesses suffered some form of inundation in the floods in south-east Queensland of 2010-11.

In Brisbane, some of the city’s most desirable suburbs were swamped.

Head of research at CoreLogic Tim Lawless said Brisbane house prices were already on a downward trajectory because of rising interest rates, and values in flood-hit areas slumped even further in the wake of the disaster.

“When we look at the Brisbane housing market, say two years after the flood, the worst-affected flooded markets had clearly seen a much larger decline in values than what Brisbane did overall,” he said.

“There are so many different micro dynamics in a market but, broadly, we saw two years after the event Brisbane housing values were down about 5 per cent, whereas in the hardest-hit flooded markets we saw values fall more like about 10 to 12 per cent.

“Some markets were a little bit worse than that, some a little bit better than that, but it’s clear that the flooded markets were down generally more than double what the Brisbane average had seen.”

But the market has since recovered.

“In fact, it didn’t even take 10 years; about five years after the event we’d seen all of the worst-hit markets were back to new record highs,” Lawless said.

“By the end of this 10-year anniversary, we’ve seen Brisbane housing values have risen by nearly 23 per cent, but if we look back across the worst-hit flooded markets, they’ve generally risen by about 14 to 16 per cent.”

Riverside locations that were a curse during the disaster have fared well in terms of house values.

“A lot of these areas that did flood were in very desirable locations — close to the river, close to the water … I think the lure of those desirable suburbs close to the river and close to the city centre has been enough to overcome any sort of issues related to the potential for flooding,” Lawless said.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said more than 95 per cent of flooded properties were built before the 1970s.

“Less than 5 per cent were newly developed properties … and what that shows is that the modern planning controls are working to reduce people’s flood risk,” Schrinner said.

“The majority of the flood risk is in areas that were developed long before the modern age.”

He said residents now had easy access to flood modelling data and thousands of people had taken advantage of post-flood building height relaxations.

“We have implemented a range of changes which help people in those situations,” he said.

“One of them is the ability for people to raise their houses in areas that flood and so we’ve lifted the height limit from 8.5 metres to 9.5 metres to allow people to get that extra bit of height to help get them out of the flood zone.”

But independent councillor for Tennyson Ward Nicole Johnston said more should be done to reduce the flood risk for residents.

“It’s a floodplain so we can’t ever be flood-proof, but there are things that we can do and there is definitely more Brisbane City Council and the State Government can do to make our city and our community safer,” she said.

“There is still a long way to go on achieving flood-mitigation measures that can help our community in the long term.”

Johnston said more backflow valves were needed to help stop water backing up out of the river through drains and flooding streets.

“The big one is backflow valves, so these were recommended following the floods out of council’s independent engineering review,” she said.

“Unfortunately council did the first 15 and then stopped, so there are still 40-odd backflow valves that need to be done around the city, many of them in the area that I represent.

“Unfortunately council is now treating them like other long-term drainage priorities and isn’t investing enough money into making sure that those mitigation measures are in place.”

Schrinner said the devices were not “a silver bullet”.

“They only are effective if you’ve got river flooding and no flooding in creeks … or no rain in the local catchment,” he said.

“If you’ve got water coming down the pipes you don’t want to put a blockage in those pipes, so what these are about is to stop water coming up the pipes.

“There’s only a small percentage of situations where these devices work — in other situations they won’t have any impact at all.

“We’ve prioritised the most critical locations and they have been done and we’re continuing to look for other opportunities to improve the drainage as well.”

For Barry Sommerlad, who lives at Tennyson on Brisbane’s south-west, the events of January 2011 were devastating.

His house sits on Oxley Creek which broke its banks and flooded homes.

“When it was obvious on that Wednesday morning that it was really, really getting serious, it was coming up, we decided we just had to get out and by that time we’d worked throughout the night getting most of our furniture upstairs,” he said.

He said the water went one metre above his home’s floorboards, wrecking walls and a new kitchen, and filling the backyard with mud.

Sommerlad said he would never forget how the local community rallied to support each other.

“The positives were that everybody pitched in and worked together and everybody understood how everybody else felt, so there was great solidarity coming out of that,” he said.


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New apartment developments pop up in prime locations in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast

apartment developments

Location is everything for these luxurious new developments, whether overlooking the Brisbane River or a stone’s throw from glamorous Surfers Paradise.

Buyers in the market for an apartment well may be spoiled for choice.

Boutique Chevron Island

Even if you’re not a Gold Coast local, you’ve probably heard of Surfers Paradise, famous for its glitz and glamour.

You’re perhaps less likely, however, to be familiar with Chevron Island, an exclusive and slower-paced urban island in the very same neighbourhood.

This boutique development offers 42 luxury apartments on the north-east corner of the island, surrounded by the Nerang River.

The 14-storey building, designed by award-winning BDA Architects, hosts several floor plan options, from two-bedroom homes to four-bedroom penthouses.

The majority of apartments available in the project are two and three-bedroom stock, starting from $499,000.

The development will be home to several high-end amenities, including a pool and spa, gym, rooftop yoga centre, residents’ lounge, barbecue facilities, zen garden and a specialised co-working space.

CEO of Draycon Building Howard Dabit said the project’s design had been responsive to lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic.

“What we’ve done, which makes this building very unique compared to a lot of the others that are being built at the Gold Coast at the moment, is we adopted the co-work space environment, right from day one,” he said.

“A lot of people are saying because of covid, they want to work from home, they feel more comfortable, and it’s giving them a lot more flexibility.”

The communal space will feature free internet, meeting booths, lounges, a kitchenette, and an array of snacks and drinks. Residents will also have the option to work outside, and to socialise within the space.

Interiors will feature sound-insulated timber floors, European appliances and for those on upper floors, the option to customise elements of the kitchen and butler’s pantry.

Mr Dabit said the superior quality of the project was aided by the fact Draycon was both builder and developer.

“The ideology of the building is the same, you don’t have the developer thinking one way and the builder trying to lessen the quality to ensure that he can make a bigger profit,” he said.

“Because we’re one, we get to integrate that and make it so that we’re happy with the profit levels that we’re making, and we want to provide the quality for the end user, and that’s the advantage of having a builder/developer in such a project.”

The project has begun construction, and is set to be completed about July 2022.

Brookfield Gallery House

apartment developments

Gallery House, 7-11 Wharf Street, Hamilton Photo: Supplied

This riverside development in the blue-chip Brisbane suburb of Hamilton is selling fast, with more than 90 per cent of apartments sold across the two towers.

With both stages completed last year, Gallery House offers 300 apartments, including one to four-bedroom homes, skyhomes and penthouses.

Many of the homes are afforded sweeping views of the Brisbane River, with others facing north to overlook the city’s inner suburbs.

Remaining on the market is a small cross-section of apartments on offer, starting from $387,000 for a two-bedroom unit and from $2,295,000 for penthouses.

Managing director of TOTAL Property Group Adrian Parsons said the development had attracted strong interest from local Brisbane residents.

“We’ve found that the development has been in very high demand since June, where people have either been buying their first home from our one and two-bedroom range, or people have been downsizing from larger homes into a prime riverfront two, three or four-bedroom apartment,” he said.

“People really just love the aspect of living on the river, and the location at Portside Wharf with the recent completion of the Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade makes accessibility from Portside into the city more convenient.

“With the River Walk that has been established, it’s added a new lifestyle element to living in the precinct.”

Mr Parsons said the apartments’ oversized design was perfect for the downsizer market.

“I think one of the main things when people are looking at downsizing from a house is they’re worried that they’re going to compromise too much by moving into an apartment in terms of space, so when these apartments were designed, it was clearly understood who the target market would be,” he said.

“Whether they’re a three-bedroom or a four-bedroom, they’ve got really large living areas, lots of open wide living areas that front onto the river, also with large balconies.

“Not only do the apartments have generous storage inside, but buyers can also buy basement storage areas for other things they may want to store.”

Market Lane

Located in the new CBD in Maroochydore, this Sunshine Coast development will offer 146 apartments in two towers.

Buyers will have the choice of two and three-bedroom configurations, along with a limited selection of penthouses, each offering sought-after views of the coastline and picturesque hinterland.

The development also encompasses six small office terraces, as well as retail and dining.

Embedded within the brand new City Centre precinct, the project is set to enjoy all the perks and amenity of the budding development hub, affording it a 90/100 walk score.

It is situated directly opposite the new town square and a two-hectare park, part of a sizeable chunk of the CBD site earmarked for open space.

Designed with investors and developers in mind, the mixed-use precinct will feature smart technology throughout, including technology-assisted parking, real-time public transport and community updates, wifi hotspots, safety systems and electric car charging stations.

Some 40 per cent of the 53-hectare site will be kept as open space, and waterways will be integrated throughout.

Market Lane itself will offer 450 square metres of ground floor retail and dining, along with a rooftop terrace on one of the towers, replete with an entertaining area and private dining room.

Other amenities available to residents will include a 25-metre resort-style pool and barbecue leisure space in the centre of the development.

The towers will also feature secure access, lifts, an above-ground car park, CCTV, and an on-site facilities manager.


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First home buyers flood back into market on low rates, rising house prices

house prices

First home buyers are flooding back into the property market lured by ultra-low interest rates and government support, with two of the nation’s biggest mortgage brokers experiencing a surge in loan applications from young buyers.

AFG, a major listed wholesale broker, reported a 30 per cent annual jump in its total home loan applications in the latest quarter, as other brokers including Mortgage Choice also said they had seen sharp growth during the summer.

But while the lending surge is underway, analysts are predicting a modest rise in foreclosures as banks stop offering automatic home loan deferrals for customers thrown into financial stress by the pandemic.

AFG chief executive David Bailey said the company’s latest figures showed 22 per cent of loan applications lodged by its brokers in the latest quarter were for first home buyers, compared with the historical average of about 12 to 13 per cent of loans going to first time buyers. Mr Bailey said government incentives for first home buyers and rising prices were helping to fuel the strong demand.

“As we are starting to see clearance rates improve and prices rise across the country, people are starting to worry that they might miss out. They are probably bringing their decisions forward … to take advantage of the incentives,” Mr Bailey said in an interview on Wednesday.

Investors made up only 21 per cent of AFG’s loan applications, the lowest percentage on records going back to 2013.

Australia’s property market proved to be surprisingly resilient to shock from the pandemic, with prices rising in late 2020 after official interest rates were slashed to just 0.25 per cent and banks allowed struggling property owners to put their repayments on pause.

Mortgage Choice chief executive Susan Mitchell said over the past two months the market had been “very buoyant,” with loan applications up by 25 to 30 per cent compared with a year earlier. Ms Mitchell also noted the surge in first home buyer activity, saying these buyers accounted for almost 25 per cent of applications, up from 13 to 15 per cent normally.

“We are seeing the first home buyers back at the same level that we saw back in 2009,” she said.

Mortgage broker said inquiries since December were more than 60 per cent higher than the same period last year, also citing strong interest from first home buyers and expats returning to Australia.

Alongside government support for first home buyers, banks have also cushioned the housing market by allowing customers to pause repayments temporarily, but most borrowers will have to make their usual payments from March, when several government stimulus programs also end.

The end of all these stimulus measures and supports simultaneously could result in a small lift in foreclosures, property data analysts SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said, but he was not concerned about a “mass forced sale event”.

“The banks have done well in managing the loan deferrals. They have shrunk from their peaks at the beginning of the pandemic,” Mr Christopher said.

Starr Partners chief executive Doug Driscoll was “perplexed and bewildered” about the strength of the property market during the pandemic.

“The leniency and the patience of the banks is stopping there from being any tsunami of forced sales. There will naturally be a slight increase in foreclosures [at the end of the repayment holidays] but not a severe spike,” Mr Driscoll said. “Everything last year was pointing to foreclosures and price falls but it’s just business as usual.”


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Tight rental market forces tenants to find their edge or risk losing out to competition

rental market

With vacancies rates dipping below 1% in parts of the region and a surge in demand, competition for rental properties is fierce in South East Queensland. Renters currently applying for properties are being forced to put their best foot forward to put them ahead in the eyes of landlords.

Managing Director of Solutions Property Management Laura Valenti said there had been a staggering increase in property demand over the past few months: “Demand is extremely high. In fact, I have never seen such high demand and low supply,” she said.

“We manage over 1000 properties in the greater Brisbane area and since the beginning of November 2020 our vacancy rate has been zero.”

With so few available rental properties, having an edge over other applicants is vital. While some people are offering more rent than advertised, some tenants are seeing better outcomes after completing a free, online tenancy skills course developed by the Tenancy Skills Institute.

The course was developed after extensive consultation with property managers, and covers the top four skill sets identified as crucial to a positive tenancy; communication, rights and responsibilities, maintaining a rental property and budgeting. Once complete, graduates are awarded a certificate to support future rental applications.

Tenancy Skills Institute State Manager, Mark Davidson explained tenants who complete the course will stand out from the crowd.

“Tenants who demonstrate an understanding of their rights and responsibilities, are effective communicators, budget well to pay the rent on time and maintain the property are at an advantage.

“The certificate might just make the difference on a rental application for some property managers.” said Mark.

Laura Valenti’s agency Solutions Property Management is just one of a growing number of industry supporters who agrees the course is of high value for tenants.

“It [the course certificate] would definitely put them above others who have a similar application,” said Laura.

Since it began, the Tenancy Skills Institute has given over 2000 Queenslanders a head-start in their rental journeys. Experienced renter, Wendy* believes that without the course she would still be searching for housing.

Wendy said: “The course did me great, I found it interesting, helpful and enjoyable.

“I was finally approved for a property after completing it and moved in at the start of January.”


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