While Christopher does highlight positive elements across the region—not least its “geographic beauty”—his cautious slant is a departure from others in the industry who often paint a rosier picture of the South East Queensland outlook.
“The Sunshine Coast has been working hard to widen its economic base in recent years,” Christopher says.
He also notes a significant workforce that commutes daily to and from Brisbane has assisted in creating a “stable housing market”, particularly at the southern end of the region.
The drive between a southern coast town such as Caloundra and Brisbane’s CBD takes approximately 1.5 hours in peak traffic.
The area has experienced “extended and acute” downturns in the past, however, Christopher says, with prices in some areas falling by more than a third between 2009 and 2013.
Factors such as elevated unemployment numbers and a big drop in local tourism numbers over that period drew attention to some of the vulnerabilities of the market.
Christopher predicts Gold Coast price rises will outperform the Brisbane market in 2015, possibly posting another 5–7% in gains, but he warns the housing recovery underway in the area is “slow and could stall”.
Many have flagged a rise in listings in recent months as a strong sign of this recovery, however Christopher notes this could also reflect a surge of sellers finally putting their properties up for sale after waiting years in an underperforming market.
On the other hand, he points to the likelihood of an increase in both domestic and international tourism off the back of a lower Australian dollar, as well as a growing optimism surrounding the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which Gold Coast is set to host.
Describing the statistics on the state’s capital as “not particularly exciting”, Christopher says SQM Research has not currently recorded any material rise in listings.
He notes an “ongoing overhang of housing supply” kept a lid on prices last year and suggests the mining downturn means the city is not likely to see any significant growth in the coming year.