The value of Australian hotel deals hit a six-year low in 2018 new figures from Colliers International has revealed.
Despite a slow start to 2018, hotel sales volumes picked up over the second half of the year to record a total of $1.8 billion with 37 transactions above the $5 million mark.
The results still mark the lowest volume of deals since 2012 and slumped by 15.7 per cent of the value of sales recorded in 2017 and 52 per cent lower than the total sales recorded in 2015 when the market peaked.
Offshore investors continued to dominate the Australian market, accounting for two thirds of hotel transaction volumes in 2018.
China was a “notable omission” due to its government’s infrastructure-focused investment philosophy, with three major policies that have continued to withdraw Chinese investment into the Australian real estate sector.
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement, the Belt and Road Initiative, and most recently, the updated guidance on foreign investment, Circular 74.
“There was a notable broadening of the capital base with investors sourced from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Middle East, Hong Kong, India and the United Kingdom,” Colliers International head of hotels Gus Moors said.
“Locally domiciled and global investment funds were the most active buyer group with volumes totalling more than $1 billion and with a number of new funds targeting the sector.”
Queensland was the most active hotel investment market with $491 million changing hands.
Investors made counter cyclical plays, capitalising on improving fundamentals in Brisbane and ongoing strength of trade in the key leisure markets.
Standout transactions across Queensland include the Watermark Portfolio for $90 million, the 367-guest room Ibis Styles Brisbane for $94 million and the Novotel Hotel Twin Waters which sold for $88.5 million.
Origin of Hotel Purchasers by Value ($5 million plus)
Transaction volumes in New South Wales and Victoria were aided by some high-profile sales including the Park Regis City Centre in Sydney, which transacted for $54.1 million and the Pullman on the Park in Melbourne which was purchased by fund manager iProsperity Group for $156 million.
There was also movement in the Northern Territory which witnessed its largest single investment since 2010 with Delaware North’s acquisition of Sky City for $188 million.
Development sales were also prominent throughout 2018 with a notable transaction being the Quincy Melbourne, which was sold by BPM Group as a fund-through deal.
Colliers expects deal flow to increase across 2019 as owners respond to changing market conditions, particularly in markets with significant new supply.
Hotel openings are now expected to surge in 2019 with 6,500 new rooms expected across ten major accommodation markets, with Melbourne, Perth and to a lesser degree Sydney to see the majority of this supply increase.
“We expect to see more development sales over the coming year with projects currently being marketed in Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne,” Colliers International hotels director Karen Wales said.
The Brisbane suburbs where property values will rise
The Brisbane suburbs where rent prices have increased most
Brisbane’s rent prices have remained relatively steady over the past 12 months, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any big changes in rent prices across the city. So which suburbs have seen the biggest price hikes, and which have seen the biggest reductions?
When it comes to units, Bardon recorded the highest jump in rent price in the past 12 months. The north-western suburb saw an 18 per cent increase up to a median weekly rent price of $360, which is consistent with a 20 per cent increase over the past five years.
Brooke Rowley, property management business developer for Ray White Paddington, said smaller units have recently popped up in the suburb and were likely to account for the bump in price.
“We have height restrictions so we don’t have all the high-rises, but we do have a lot of smaller units and townhouses,” she said. “They’re not high rise, the top would be three levels. But nice, and fairly new.”
Rowley said most of the rental interest in the area came from more established renters who were interested in the location and surrounding amenities.
“Bardon is the catchment zone for two very good schools, Bardon State School and Rainworth State School. A lot of people look for the good schools, and then want to stay in that area. [We see] more professionals sharers and families because of the schools, and close proximity to the city. [There’s also] easy access to get to Mt Coot-tha and the western suburbs.”
Elsewhere, Yerongpilly in Brisbane’s south saw a strong 14.3 per cent increase in unit rent prices year-on-year, while nearby suburb Holland Park jumped a similarly strong 11.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, house rent prices increased the most in Fortitude Valley, with the central suburb posting a 16.3 per cent jump. The median weekly rent price was $500 in the area. Leasing associate Connor Hadwen, of Living Here Cush Partners, said the increase was likely due to the market catching up to the recent apartment boom.
“The oversupply of apartments has mostly been filled at the moment,” he said. “So compared to five years ago, the rental prices are returning to normal levels. It’s just the suburb growth matching back to normal levels.”
In fact, Domain economist Trent Wiltshire said the most notable broad trend in Brisbane’s rental market in the past 12 months was a 6.25 per cent increase in rent price for units in inner-city Brisbane suburbs like Fortitude Valley.
“That’s a surprise given what we know has been happening in the Brisbane apartment market in the inner city,” he said. “Brisbane’s gone through a huge apartment building boom over the last few years. Despite that, rents have increased over the past year by 6 per cent.
“It’s only up by 6 per cent over five years, so it has been held down over the last few years by the big building boom, but it’s just jumped in the past year. This says to me that there’s ongoing strong demand for new apartments.”
Mr Hadwen said he had seen strong interstate and international interest in Fortitude Valley, and its surrounding suburbs of New Farm, Teneriffe, and Newstead.
“We tend to see not huge families coming to live here, but people moving here for employment opportunities. [People] wanting to live close to the city.”
Another suburb that posted a large increase in house rent price was Fig Tree Pocket in Brisbane’s south-west. It saw a 12.5 per cent jump for a median weekly rent price of $675. Closer to the CBD, Ashgrove saw an increase of 10.6 percent making for a median weekly house rent price of $575.
On the other end of the spectrum, the apartment rental market in Rocklea in Brisbane’s south saw the biggest dip across the city, with rent dropping 8.9 per cent year on year consistent with an 8.9 per cent drop in the past five years. The current median weekly rent price for units in the area is $280.
When it comes to houses, the western suburb of Chelmer saw the biggest drop at 11.2 per cent. This could be an anomaly, however, given the area’s 26.2 per cent increase over the past five years. The current median weekly rent price for houses in the area is $675.
Queensland leads the way in market recovery
Demand has started to increase in the property market on the back of the recent federal election results and interest rate cuts, with Brisbane and Mackay in Queensland leading the road to recovery.
REA’s Property Outlook for July has revealed the “ScoMo bounce” and two interest rate cuts were breathing new life into Australian property, with demand starting to increase and slowly flowing through to many indicators.
Search activity has seen a bump, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney’s hard hit markets, clearance rates in premium suburbs are getting back to high levels, and many mining towns are returning to growth after five years of negative conditions, according to the report.
realestate.com.au’s Chief Economist Nerida Conisbee said rental growth in these areas started some time ago, but a recovery is now following suit.
“Queensland is leading the way in the recovery,” Ms Conisbee said in the report. “Brisbane has been the first capital city off the block in terms of price growth, and Mackay is right now the top regional growth area in Australia.”
She added that jobs growth is also driving rental demand, which continues to be highest in Hobart, Gold Coast and Melbourne, and while the extreme price growth in Hobart now seems to be over, Launceston is taking over. Regional Victoria was also doing well, with many suburbs in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong experiencing never before seen property demand.
But according to the report, any real uplift in the number of people listing properties for sale is yet to be seen and pricing data is yet to reflect a change in conditions, and Ms Conisbee warned that while much of this sounds promising, there are some dark clouds looming on the horizon.
“Although buyers love an interest rate cut (we see an increase in search activity onrealestate.com.au almost as soon as it is announced), the Australian economy isn’t looking particularly healthy,” she said in the report.
“While many economic indicators have been poor for some time now, the bright spark has always been low unemployment. With this creeping up and the Reserve Bank pushing through two interest rate cuts very quickly, the positive effect of cheaper finance may not be enough to offset the fact that people are beginning to lose their job. Could it be that the worst for property is still be to come?”
Ms Conisbee said if the interest rate cuts were enough to stimulate the economy and property prices continued to see a rebound, we were still looking at a very different property market to what it was like during the boom, with investor lending down 45 per cent from peak and unlikely to make a full recovery any time soon.
“Buyers from Asia, a key market for new development, have dropped dramatically,” she reported. “Over the past 12 months alone, property seekers from China have dropped by over 60 per cent to the lowest level we have ever recorded, and confidence in the new apartment sector is low following some high-profile structural issues.”
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