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Commercial Market Update – Brisbane Cityscope February 2020

Commercial Market Update - Brisbane Cityscope February 2020 (1)

The latest research from Brisbane Cityscope shows property sale numbers have increased in the past three months but sales figures have dropped. The last three months to the beginning of February 2020 recorded 36 sales for a total of just over $806 million, with $761.9 million for commercial, $32.8 million for commercial strata, $7.8 million for retail strata and $3.4 million for other.

In comparison, the last three months to the beginning of November 2019 recorded 16 sales for a total of just over $1.411 billion, with $1.29 billion for commercial, $6 million for commercial strata, $106.6 million for retail, $600,000 for retail strata and $2.2 million for other.

The 12 months leading up to the beginning of February 2020 recorded 78 sales for a total of over $2.93 billion, more than $745.2 million higher than the recorded figure for the same time period the year before.

The table below shows sales recorded for the past eight updates of Brisbane Cityscope:

Commercial Market Update - Brisbane Cityscope February 2020 (3)

The most significant sales recorded this quarter were:

Two commercial towers at 141 Queen Street and 140 Elizabeth Street have been sold together for over $393.8 million to Shayher Properties Pty Ltd. 140 Elizabeth comprises an 11-storey commercial building with over 10,000 sqm of office space and 950 sqm of retail space fronting Queen and Albert Streets. 141 Queen Street comprises a 25-storey, 19,478 sqm office building with a retail arcade at street level. Jacob Swan and Seb Turnbull of JLL Brisbane negotiated the sale with Lachlan MacGillivray, Jason Lynch and Don Mackenzie of Colliers International Brisbane. The sale represented an initial yield of 6.05% on a passing income of $23,827,007 (net).

A 20-storey office building at 313 Adelaide Street has sold for just over $137.5 million to PS Financing SPV Pty Ltd. The building comprises one level of basement car parking, ground floor retail space, three levels of car parking above ground floor and 16 levels of offices; it has a gross floor area of 15,940 sqm above podium level. Bruce Baker, Tom Phipps and Flint Davidson of CBRE Brisbane negotiated the sale which represented a capitalisation rate of 5.75% on a passing income of around $7,910,612 (net). The property last traded in 2015 for $114 million.

Centuria Property Group has purchased 348 Edward Street on behalf of their Centuria 348 Edward Street Fund. The 16-storey, 11,211 sqm office building was bought for $89 million, which represented initial yield of 5.39% on a passing income of $4,797,627 (net). Flint Davidson, Adelaide O’Brien, Tom Phipps and Marc Giuffrida of CBRE Brisbane negotiated the sale with Seb Turnbull and Stuart McCann of JLL Brisbane. The property last traded in 2016 for $49 million.

Commercial Market Update - Brisbane Cityscope February 2020 (2)

Properties currently listed for sale include:

  • Level 1, 371 Queen Street – a 243 sqm unit comprising the whole first floor, split into two tenancies. For sale by expressions of interest, closing February 27, 2020; agent, Colliers International Brisbane (Tony Huan Wang and Nick Wedge).
  • 331 George Street – a 900 sqm, three-storey plus basement building, formerly known as the Ryan and Bosscher House and built in 1916. For sale by offers to purchase; agent, Colliers International Brisbane (Hunter Higgins). The property was advertised with a current net income of $471,342 per annum.
  • Collin House, 463-469 Adelaide Street – a five-level office building with frontages to both Queen Street and Adelaide Street. For sale by offers to purchase; agent, JPM Commercial (Justin Mollard).

Properties currently under contract (conditional or unconditional) include:

  • 410 Queen Street – a 15-storey, 5,704 sqm office building with ground floor retail space and car parking for 42 vehicles. Under contract unconditionally; agents, CBRE Brisbane (Peter Chapple, Jack Morrison and Tom Phipps) and Cushman & Wakefield Brisbane (Peter Court and Mike Walsh).



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‘Absolutely inundated’: Lack of stock drives Queensland interest

‘Absolutely inundated’ Lack of stock drives Queensland interest

As open-home restrictions begin to lift, a Brisbane agency has reported huge interest from first home buyers clamouring to get onto the property ladder despite COVID-19.

Coronis Agency has reported that it had more than 80 potential buyers attend the first scheduled open home of an Archerfield property.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom property only hit the market last Thursday and received more than 56 phone and email enquiries within 48 hours.

Director Anthony Hunt said the agency was “absolutely inundated with buyer enquiries within 30 minutes of the property going live, with many buyers asking to schedule a private inspection on the Thursday night or Friday as they were eager to beat the rush on Saturday”.

“In the end, I opened the property up on Friday afternoon and had nine groups of buyers turn up purely from responding to their calls and emails,” he explained.

He added that at the Saturday open home, which was the first advertised inspection, “it took more than an hour to get everyone through the property due to the social distancing restrictions, but on the whole, everyone was really understanding and willing to wait their turn”.

Mr Hunt said the general feedback he received from most parties is that “they want to buy something right now, despite everything going on with COVID-19”.

“Many of them are first home buyers with pre-approval who are looking to get their foot on the property ladder and aren’t fazed about going out in public to attend open homes,” he said.

The director believes that what they’re more concerned about is the lack of properties to choose from and how quickly properties are selling at the moment.

By Saturday afternoon, Mr Hunt said he had received four offers and it was under contract by Saturday night for a price that exceeded the seller’s expectations, “so they’re very happy”.

While 140 Granard Road was “beautifully presented”, the agent expressed the opinion that the main reason it was so popular with buyers was because it offered “great value for money in a suburb only 15km from Brisbane CBD”.

He iterated that buyers are willing to look outside of their desired suburb to purchase the right property.

His message to those who are considering holding off on selling? Don’t wait.

“In the past week, the Coronis sales team has received more than 1,000 buyer enquiries, and from that, 550-plus groups attended an open home on the weekend, so there is no doubt about it — buyers have a strong appetite to purchase now, they just need more options to choose from,” he concluded.




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Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point

Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point

Hutchinson Builders has topped out the “first-of-its-kind” full merging of two separate commercial buildings in Brisbane’s $700 million Midtown Centre.

Mining giant Rio Tinto signed a 10-year lease deal in 2019 on the 27-storey, Fender Katsalidis-designed tower, developed by AM Brisbane CBD Investment, a joint venture between wealth manager Ashe Morgan and developer David Mann’s DMann Corporation.

The project involves the $175 million connection and refurbishment of the former Health and Forestry Buildings located at 155 Charlotte Street and 150 Mary Street—acquired in 2017 for $66 million—into a cross-block hub comprising a commercial tower, with a public laneway connecting both streets.

Rather than using the conventional method of joining the existing 20-storey buildings by a skybridge, the buildings have been merged from top to bottom using a base podium and exterior, to provide large campus-style 2,500sq m floor plates.

The infill is locked in by a new level 20 slab supporting an additional six levels above, to form the single 26-storey tower currently being constructed by Hutchinson Builders—who, like other “essential services” have continued work while adapting to Covid-19 social distancing measures.

Fender Katsalidis director Mark Curzon said the infill completion is a huge accomplishment in terms of commercial design outcomes, adaptive reuse and sustainability in Australia.

“Through good design, we have given new life to the buildings in a somewhat unconventional but highly innovative and technically considered manner.

“We’re leading the way for more environmentally-friendly adaptive reuse while meeting commercial objectives in creating large floorplates that would otherwise be unattainable in this CBD location,” Curzon said.

Compared with a demolish and rebuild scenario, Midtown Centre’s infill achieves a claimed 231 per cent cumulative impact reduction across all environmental indicators, including a 37 per cent carbon dioxide reduction compared to a new build.

Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point (2)

Curzon said that although the successful merging of the structures in the Midtown development rests partly on the fact that the two buildings’ original designs mirror each other, the technique was transferable.

“The infill has afforded significant environmental savings, adding to the viability of this technique and its potential to be implemented across other buildings that sit side-by-side.”

Fender Katsalidis principal James Mills said the project sets a new standard for the repurposing of buildings.

“Despite nothing of this scale or nature taking place in Australia previously, we have found a way to add value to the site through a cutting-edge architectural process that is exemplar for Brisbane and beyond.

“Our work at Midtown Centre is focused on bringing the buildings in line with today’s needs, increasing net lettable area and producing environmental sustainability through the design of commercial assets,” Mills said.

Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point (3)

Even before coronavirus created the new normal of social distancing, which in turn is set to have transformative impact on office design—Ashe Morgan chairman Michael Moss predicted the “customised office solution” prescribed for Rio Tinto would “create a benchmark for workplaces of the future”.

The centre features a level 20 “sky garden”, landscaped garden terrace atop the podium and “green seam” encasing the tower along with landscaped areas across the development totalling in excess of 3,000sq m.

With the Midtown centre slated for completion in mid-2020, the next phase of construction involves the addition of six levels to create a single tower from the new level 20 slab.




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Landlords hit by rising vacancies, falling prices

Landlords hit by rising vacancies, falling prices

Property prices don’t necessarily always fall during recessions but this time you would have to think that prices will tumble significantly, given the speed and depth of the COVID-19 economic shock.

Simon Pressley, managing director of Propertyology, says the problems in the property markets will be temporary.

Even those sober economists at the big banks are forecasting price falls of up to 32 per cent over the next couple of years – though the banks’ “base” cases, or most likely scenarios, are for price declines in the order of 10 per cent.

A lot of homeowners are ahead on their mortgage repayments and have a nice buffer in case they have to drop their payments to the required minimum, and history shows most people can hold on without becoming forced sellers.

That’s also likely to be the case this time, given the level of government support through JobKeeper and JobSeeker and lenders’ granting of repayment deferrals to their home loan customers affected by the financial fallout of the pandemic.

However, the situation is trickier for property investor landlords.

Rental vacancy rates in Sydney’s CBD hit more than 13.8 per cent during April – the highest ever recorded by property researcher SQM Research.

Vacancies at Melbourne’s Southbank are similarly at 13 per cent, and in the CBD it is 7.6 per cent.

So far, the vacancy rates in the suburbs of our two largest cities have risen only slightly, with the elevated rates contained to inner-city areas.

Still, the relatively low suburban vacancy rates may be understating the true weakness in rental market, given many tenants have negotiated rent discounts or deferrals with their landlords.

Robert Mellor, executive chairman of economic and property forecaster BIS Oxford Economics, describes the high vacancy rates of inner-city areas as “alarming”.

It is the number of people out of work, fewer international students and loss of immigration that’s driving the surge, particularly in areas with many higher-density developments.

Overseas travel bans have also led to demand for short-term accommodation through sites such as Airbnb drying up, leading property owners to list their housing for long-term leasing. That’s pushing vacancy rates in holiday hotspots higher, though that will change once interstate travel resumes.

Simon Pressley, managing director and head of market research at buyer’s agency Propertyology, says many landlords with investment properties in inner-city areas are finding it tough.

And those who bought investment properties recently risk being in negative equity if prices fall significantly, where they owe more on the property than what it is now worth, he says.

However, Pressley cautions against punching out doom and gloom predictions on a negative trend.

“I’m in the minority, but I’m not seeing double-digit price falls,” he says.

“It is a dreadful thing for some landlords but we are talking about specific pockets. It is not going to be like this forever.”

The coronavirus has at least ensured that interest rates and, therefore, borrowing costs, will stay low for years to come.

Time will tell, but the almost 2 million Australians with at least one investment property will be hoping Pressley’s optimism proves correct.




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