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‘They come, and just never go home’: Why the Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter

It’s the annual winter prestige property pilgrimage from the southern states to the Sunshine Coast that leading local agent Vicki Stewart has come to know so well.

“People from Sydney and Melbourne come up the first year and fall in love with the climate and the area,” says Ms Stewart, the director of Stewart Property. “They return the next year and don’t want to go home again, so start looking at places to buy.

“And by the third year, they come, and just never go home.”

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 1

She did exactly the same thing too, 34 years ago, on a visit from Sydney, and says that migration from daydreamer to new owner causes a dramatic spike this time every year in the market.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella agrees. “Many travel for a holiday and fall in love with our world-class beaches, fine dining and luxury retail shopping precincts,” she says.

“The seeds are planted and while our prices are high compared with the rest of Queensland, when compared with Sydney or Melbourne prices they’re an absolute bargain.”

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 2

At the same time Noosa, at the top of the Sunshine Coast market, has been performing exceptionally well and in the 12 months to March 2019 has hit 8.7 per cent growth, making it Queensland’s strongest area, as against Brisbane’s one to 3 per cent, and the Gold Coast’s 2 to 3 per cent. Since 2014, Noosa prices have risen 44 per cent.

There have been some stellar sales too in the past 18 months, including the $15.2 million sale of tennis ace Pat Rafter’s mansion on Noosa’s Sunshine Beach, followed by the Sunshine Coast record-breaking $18 million purchase of a seven-bedroom trophy home nearby. “But as a general rule of thumb, what you’d buy in Sydney for $20 million will cost you just $8 million here,” says Ms Stewart.

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 3

Domestic tourism – of which this coastal region is “the Australian rock star” according to Visit Sunshine Coast chief executive Simon Latchford – always sparks the property market, while its “Hamptons-style cool” continues to drive it on and up.

“The market does leverage off tourism but, often, as soon as people arrive they realise its strengths,” Mr Latchford says. “There are two airports, lots of new infrastructure, a laid-back lifestyle, an extraordinary climate with no cyclones, crocs or box jellyfish, a community atmosphere in a place that hasn’t been allowed to develop too fast, and Brisbane is only an hour and a half away.

“If you want to savour life as it was back in the ’70s, then this place can offer that environment.”

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 4

The prestige market from $5 million to $12 million is particularly strong at the moment, with demand surging and stock so tight that one buyer bought a home at Noosa Heads in the past few weeks for $2.9 million over the phone, sight unseen.

“We now have a lot of buyers making multiple offers and there’s not much stock as people are making generational purchases; they’re planning to keep it long-term and hand it down to family rather than sell it,” says agent Nic Hunter from Tom Offermann Real Estate.

“Noosa has always been the pinnacle of that prestige end of the market, and people just love the relaxed lifestyle and village atmosphere.”

Four homes in the area

Noosa Waters

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 5

For sale by informal tender with a guide of more than $4 million, this five-bedroom home has a spectacular waterfront position, with beautiful mountain views and a peaceful position.

“As with all the best homes on the Sunshine Coast, you have to consider the cost of not buying now,” says agent Adrian Reed of Reed & Co.


Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 6

With deepwater access and an upgraded pontoon to allow the owner to keep anything up to a 58-footer safely moored at home, this family house was designed by Frank Macchia to have a true north aspect.

The home has an in-ground pool and a steam-room, while a recently-installed solar system generates over 100kWh of power in summer and is fitted has battery storage.

It’s going to auction on July 14 through Loren Wimhurst of Next Property Group, with a guide of $4.5 million to $5.5 million.

Noosa Springs 

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 7

Floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every room make sure that the stunning views are maximised and that this house is flooded in natural light.

The media room has its own cosy fireplace, there are electric shutters and blinds and an openable roof to control light and temperatures, and underfloor heating on the ground level and in the bathrooms that service the master bedroom.

The home is for sale with a guide of $3.3 million, with Joe Langley of Universal Property Sales.

Alexandra Headland 

Sunshine Coast’s prestige market sees a spike in winter 8

Billed as a 6-star resort-style home, this home has great north-east ocean views and is just a short stroll to the beach, cafes and shops from its large 1,200sqm block.

There’s an internal lift to each floor, a grand entry foyer, a sound-proofed cinema, in-ground pool and pool room, with landscaped gardens.

It’s for sale with a guide of $3.3 million, through agent Craig Porter of Next Property Group.




Gold Coast

Desperate renters squeezed out of Qld market

Desperate renters

The property market is so squeezed in one state at the moment that Aussies are taking desperate measures to simply secure a home.

Desperate renters are being squeezed out of the Gold Coast and Brisbane rental markets, with some forced to stay in cars and caravan parks, agents say.

Dozens of potential tenants are competing for scarce rental properties with some offering up to $50 more than the asking price to secure a home.

First quarter results for 2021 show 70 per cent of Queensland’s rental vacancies remain under one per cent according to Real Estate Institute of Queensland figures released in April.

“There’s an over demand of tenants and lack of stock,” said Carmen Kennedy from Coomera Realty on the Gold Coast.

Two recent rental properties on the Gold Coast’s Coomera area both drew more than 40 people to inspections, she said.

“They weren’t aware, they thought it would try and help them get the property over other people applying.

“They were just so desperate, staying in cars and sleeping at caravan parks. It’s been pretty tough couple of months for people out there.”

The development is being driven by record-low rates, government support measures and a pandemic-driven migration, pushing Brisbane’s private rental market’s vacancy rates to their lowest levels since October 2012, the REIQ says.

In the last year, rental vacancies dropped 1.1 per cent across the Brisbane local government area, while Greater Brisbane saw the market tighten by 0.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast rental market tightened to reach a record low of 0.6 per cent in the last 15 years of data records. The western suburb of Oxenford had the lowest vacancy rate of just 0.1 per cent.

Ms Kennedy said advertised on its rental promotional material for people not to call or email the agency because it was so overwhelmed.

“We received over 200 inquiries per property, so it’s just too overwhelming for us to do our job to try and speak to every single person who’s interested in the properties,” she said.

“That was probably six weeks ago now and we haven’t had another available property since then.

“We’ve had lots of people crying to us, begging for properties, leaving domestic violence situations and having to get accommodation for them and their kids.

“It’s pretty hard to have to process those applications.

“Everyone has a bit of a situation at the moment where they don’t have friends or family to stay with, so they’re in caravan parks or staying in short term accommodation and it’s costing them double the rent if they were renting a normal house.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Natgroup Real Estate in the Gold Coast suburb of Helensvale has a register of more than 1200 people looking for a rental property.

Manager Edgar Natolo said people were applying for properties without seeing them in person, based on the online ad alone.

“We’re now leasing them to pre-approved tenants, so they’re not even hitting the market,” Mr Natolo said.

Desperate renters

People are being forced to stay in cars or caravan parks due to the competitive rental market, agents say. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy PiperSource:News Corp Australia 

“You probably get 60 inquiries in one day and 30 turn up for the open home inspections, and by the time you get back to the office you’re flooded with applications.

“It is a bit sad because a lot of them do cry when one of the girls rings them up and says they’ve missed out.

“It’s tough.”

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said some renters were being asked to leave without grounds, then seeing the property have a significant rent rise.

“Some of those people might have been living there for some time, paid the rent all the time and then asked to leave,” she said.

“Then they’re turning up to inspect properties and there’s large numbers of people there and they’re having to put in multiple applications.

“That’s pretty stock and standard in terms of reports I’m getting from across the state.”

Ms Carr said some renters were offering long periods of rent upfront, which agents aren’t allowed to ask for, but can accept.

“Sometimes there’s subtle encouragement for offering up higher rent or a longer period of rent upfront,” she said.

“It’s a very difficult situation for renters statewide. It’s not just Queensland, it’s across Australia.

“They’re under enormous pressure.”

Ms Carr said some renters were being taken to the tribunal for not moving out while others were staying at inappropriate accommodation like boarding houses or couch surfing.

The situation was preventing renters from asserting their rights, for fear they would be pushed out and would have to find another property.

“You don’t ask for repairs, you don’t push for things you need or want in the property,” she said.

“You don’t assert your rights, basically.”



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Apartments Drive Growth in Building Approvals

Building Approvals

The highs of Australian house approvals have been joined by the apartment sector, with a huge increase recorded.

The number of multi-unit dwellings approved in March jumped 63.6 per cent, the biggest increase since November 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

New house approvals remained at near-record highs, edging up by 0.1 per cent to 14117, an increase of just nine houses on February’s results.

Total dwelling approvals rose in New South Wales by 26.9 per cent, Victoria 24.7 per cent, Queensland 12.1 per cent and South Australia 3.5 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Western Australia and Tasmania fell -6.4 per cent and -4.8 per cent respectively.

Dwellings approved by building type

 Building Approvals

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, March 2021 Seasonally Adjusted

ABS director of construction statistics Daniel Rossi said the apartment market was the major contributor to building approvals continuing the record climb this month.

“The total number of dwellings approved in March was the second-highest recorded, only exceeded by the November 2017 result,” Rossi said.

“The number of private sector house approvals also remained at elevated levels due to HomeBuilder.

House and apartment approvals 

Building Approvals

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, March 2021 Seasonally Adjusted 

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Kristina Clifton said the end of HomeBuilder on March 31 would have an impact on new house approvals.

“We expect approvals for houses to drop off relatively sharply during the next few months as many people who were looking to build a home would have brought this decision forward in order to receive the grant,” Clifton said.

“Nonetheless, record low interest rates will continue to support the demand for dwellings.”


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Speculators back in the game to push up property prices

property prices

Investors in residential property have come out of hibernation and were the driving force behind the record 5.5 per cent increase in housing finance in March.

Having kept a low profile during the pandemic, investors and speculators are now returning to the market with gusto. And that suggests only one thing – home prices will continue to be pushed higher.

The colloquial definition of what turns a housing boom to a housing bubble is the increasing participation of investors. Judging by the latest numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) investors could soon replace first home buyers as key drivers of the red-hot property market.

The 12.7 per cent increase in financing to investors dwarfed the (already strong) 5.2 per cent increase in finance to owner occupiers. And the value of those loan commitments to investors is up 54 per cent on March last year.

And the phoenix-like rise in housing investors has coincided with early signs of a peak in demand for finance by first home buyers whose participation in the housing market appears to be running out of steam. In March first home buyer finance fell by 3.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted), according to the ABS.

The levelling out of first home buyer demand was only ever a matter of time as this group would ultimately come up against the barrier of affordability.

Government assistance and low interest rates spurred demand from first home buyers last year but as prices have moved up the window of opportunity has narrowed. Meanwhile, some of the robust demand from those making their first move into property is thought to have been pulled forward.

Investors deserted the residential property market in response to COVID as rents and returns fell as did values in the early stages of the pandemic. The apartments segment was hit particularly hard as immigration disappeared.

While rents remain at historically low levels, there are clear signs that rental increases are starting to come through – particularly in the outer suburbs of capital cities, the smaller capitals and in regional areas. In March rents rose by 0.6 per cent in Sydney and by 0.2 per cent in Melbourne according to CoreLogic

But the broader enticement for investors is capital gains on offer in the housing market, which is now in full swing. Prices nationally rose by 1.8 per cent in April and by 2.8 per cent in March and careered ahead 6.8 per cent over the past three months.

For big banks lenders the return of the residential property investor could provide them a new source of demand growth in the event the first home owner market continues to run out of puff.

Despite historically low interest rates, the banks say they are not seeing any deterioration in the quality of their loan books. This is despite intense competition among bank and non-bank lenders to capitalise on the demand for housing finance driven by low rates.

Westpac’s accounts for the six months to March, which were released this week ,showed that only 2 per cent of customers were behind on repayments – a level that has remained the same for a year.

For the most part the banks are arguing that there is no need to apply any macroprudential brakes to the housing market.

But history tells us the rise in investor participation also sets off alarm bells within the regulatory agencies, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Reserve Bank.

Both have been disinclined so far to wade into the rapidly heating property market and introduce measures that will hamper first home owners. But regulators have plenty of form in targeting the more speculative investor cohort with macroprudential tools. And the banks will need to avoid the riskier lending that has traditionally been associated with financing investors.

’The resurgence in investor financing and the continuing surge in owner occupiers who are trading up points to further near term strength in home prices,” according to AMP chief economist Shane Oliver.

“It also points to a further acceleration in housing debt, a further rise in the share of interest only loans and increasing lending at high loan to valuation ratios. All of which is increasing pressure on the RBA and APRA to move to tighten lending standards in order to head off increasing risks of financial instability – which we expect to occur sometime in the next six months.”



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