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Brisbane property market update: October 2020

Brisbane property market

October has seen a huge turnaround in buyer sentiment in Brisbane. It seems that even more buyers have entered the Brisbane property market in the last month, and this is contributing to the very high demand that is evident around the city.

Brisbane Property Market

Here we will summarise the monthly data and share our experiences of what we have seen on the ground by being out and about every Saturday, mixing with other buyers at open homes in several pockets around Brisbane.

Last month, we reported that Westpac Bank updated its property forecasts, with Brisbane property market prices tipped to surge 20 per cent between 2022 and 2023. Since then, consumer confidence has surged, returning to an eight-month high. It is well known that consumer confidence is a key driver for housing markets across Australia. With the announcement of further rates cuts, we may now see a further surge in housing market activity.

Brisbane Property Market

There has been a lot of talk about the mortgage payment deferrals that are expiring, and whether it will have an impact on property values in the coming months. We have now seen a decline from 11 per cent ($195 billion) in June to 7.4 per cent ($133 billion) in September 2020, according to APRA’s figures, a trend which is reassuring.

Brisbane Property Market


The unit sector in Brisbane property market has not performed as well as evidenced by the breakdown below.


The Domain Buyer Demand Indicator has shown that houses remain a firm favourite for prospective home hunters, with demand rising post-lockdown in Brisbane, and it remains significantly elevated compared with last year. Unit demand has been sliding since late May although it also remains slightly higher than last year, with investment grade stock likely to be impacted most.

At the moment, the Real Estate Brisbane property market is moving at different speeds. We have the housing market, and the high-end unit market (as a small segment of the unit market as a whole) that are incredibly strong, but the inner-city one- and two-bedroom standard apartment markets are suffering. It is unlikely that we will see a recovery until borders open and international students return.

Brisbane property market prices

According to the latest Hedonic Home Value Index data by Corelogic, dwelling values in Brisbane property market saw an overall median monthly price rise of a 0.5 per cent over the month of October 2020.


The data now confirms that property prices across Australia have moved into recovery mode with a broad-based lift in dwelling values, with the exception of Melbourne.

In the Brisbane Housing Market, we saw median values for the greater Brisbane region increase 0.6 per cent across the month of September 2020. The current median value for a Brisbane house is now $564,531.  Combined with last month’s house price results for Brisbane, this is a 1 per cent increase across the last two months. On a $500,000 property, this means it will cost a buyer $5,000 more to buy, and on a $1,000,000 property it is now $10,000 more to buy in the same area than it was two months ago.


The Unit Market in Brisbane saw a decline in median values during October with a small slide of -0.1 per cent. The current median unit price in Brisbane according to Corelogic is now $389,583.


Brisbane rental market movements

The vacancy rate in Brisbane as a whole fell again from 2.1 per cent at the end of August to 2.0 per cent at the end of September. There are still many areas in Greater Brisbane where vacancy rates are extremely low. The table below highlights where vacancy rates across Brisbane sit at the end of September 2020.

Brisbane Property Market

The main changes over the last month in vacancy are a further tightening in the Beenleigh Corridor, East Brisbane, Inner Brisbane, Northern Brisbane and Southern Brisbane, a small increase in the Brisbane CBD and no change in the other regions. Again, the main area of risk seems to be the higher-density unit markets confined to the inner city and CBD areas as previously reported.

Rents in the unit market in Brisbane saw price falls -1.7 per cent from 31 March to 30 October, a consequence of too many investment apartments in a small geographical location around the city with a recent change in demand for these types of accommodation due to the impacts of COVID-19 as we reported last month.

See below the change in rents for Brisbane units and houses from 31 March to 30 October 2020.

Brisbane Property Market

What are we seeing on the ground across Brisbane?

The number of people out at open homes every Saturday has continued to grow throughout October. With listing volumes still lower than 12 months ago, there is fierce competition for quality properties throughout Brisbane.

Demand is very strong. I would argue the strongest that we have seen in more than a decade. There are many reasons for this.

The most recent Herron Todd White Residential Month in Review, it states:

“Money has never been cheaper, and for those with the ability to access it, the opportunity is obvious.”

An example of a recent auction in Brisbane was the property at 20 Sturt Street Kedron. This was vacant land in Kedron, which is 11km to the north of the Brisbane CBD. There were 39 registered bidders and the vacant 607 sq m block sold for $1,155,000.

From our own “on the ground” experience, we can say that there is not a single property that we have been able to buy that has been listed on the market, that has not been a multiple offer situation after the first open home. Every property we have considered for our client has had high competition.

We are now also seeing properties sell outside of our appraisal range based on previous comparable sales in the area. This shows how strong the current market is, with properties selling between 5 and 10 per cent over the highest end of our appraisal range. This is critical for buyers to understand, otherwise they will simply keep missing out.

There is still off-market activity, and this is generally less competitive. Obviously, this is one advantage of working with professional buyer’s agents who have an extensive agent network.

There is less fear in Brisbane now about property prices falling, so purchasers are eager to act. Interstate migration is also boosting sales, with property buyers looking to secure a home before relocating to Brisbane. There is a sense of anticipation building in Brisbane that we will see high volumes of interstate arrivals once the borders reopen for everyone. Given the changes that COVID-19 has had on all of us, many people are seeking a great lifestyle, which Brisbane provides, while having the ability to work more remotely.

The dominant buyer group is still the owner-occupier in Brisbane, although we have definitely seen investor activity start to rapidly pick up again. Lending has spiked and owner-occupier lending is now at historical highs, excluding refinancing. First home buyer numbers are up 70 per cent year-on-year in Queensland, according to the most recent ABS lending data. Investor lending also rose 5 per cent in September, but it remains low overall.

The months ahead …

The future for the Brisbane housing market looks very bright. We expect the current price growth to continue given the sheer number of buyers currently in the market ready to buy. With tight vacancy rates throughout most areas in Greater Brisbane, we also see great investment opportunities for those who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the worst of the pandemic to pass.

The high-density unit market is still subject to further headwinds – especially in the inner city. With elevated vacancy rates, investors without a tenant in place will certainly feel the impact on their returns. Also with downward pressure on prices, the immediate future looks bleak.

Queensland now has a re-elected Labor government, so there is more certainty than this time last month when we were still in the lead-up to our state election. With the promise of jobs, and more jobs, let’s hope they get it right! With an improving economy, together with the creation of more jobs in the months ahead, this will have further positive effects on the Brisbane market.

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Brisbane’s Office Market Greenlit for Business

Brisbane’s Office Market

Brisbane’s office market continues to shake off the pandemic doldrums with two new commercial towers approved in the CBD and fringe suburbs.

Property owner PGIM and development partner Indema’s plan for a bold adaptive reuse of a 1970s commercial building at 444 Queen Street has won approval.

The bronze 22-storey tower opposite Customs House will be stripped back to its core structure and completely remodelled with a new podium, curtain wall facade and an additional two-storey sculptural canopy.

Indema director Michael Bruderlin said they would be targeting a net zero certification for the building upon completion in the first quarter of 2024.

Bruderlin said Hutchies had been engaged in an early contractor design and construct contract to help de-risk the project and better understand the technical requirements.

The Fender Katsalidis-designed tower follows in the footsteps of another of its commercial adaptive reuse projects in Brisbane, Ashe Morgan’s Midtown, now the headquarters for Rio Tinto.

Bruderlin said retaining and repurposing the existing building is 400 per cent more environmentally friendly. Retaining the existing concrete structure provides a 70 per cent saving in embodied carbon.

The project will rejuvenate a 48-year-old building at the end of life into an A-grade commercial office asset and increase the net leasable area 40 per cent.

Bruderlin said the project would have a quicker turnaround than a normal demolish and build project and it would use clever design initiatives to increase floor plates and create a better value proposition for the asset.

PGIM purchased 444 Queen Street for $54.4 million from the Public Trustee of Queensland and Abacus Property Group in October last year.

Cornerstone has also won approval for a commercial development in the city fringe suburb of Fortitude Valley.

The Bureau Proberts-designed tower will capture the heritage brick character of the Fortitude Valley centre “borrowing from the intent of these buildings but with a stridently different and contemporary expression”, planning documents said.

“This approach is a deliberate counterpoint to the strong and solid brick structures of the immediately adjacent 47 Warner Street and McWhirters buildings.

“Brickwork or masonry is not used as a material in deference to these neighbouring buildings allowing them to become more evident and make a clear statement about the era of their inception.”

The 28-storey commercial tower at 251 Wickham Street features a stepped slanting facade fronting Warner Street, with a four-storey lobby, and an inverted podium.

There will also be a rooftop terrace, 20m pool and open-plan gym in the commercial tower, with retail offerings at the base of the building.

Brisbane’s metropolitan office market vacancy was at 16.3 per cent at the end of March and there were few transactions across the quarter, according to Colliers research.

But yields remained steady, and well above other capital cities, while incentives remained stagnant at 40 per cent.



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Developer Pitches for $130m Shop-Top Housing on Bayside

$130m Shop-Top Housing on Bayside

Brisbane’s bayside could be going up in the world with plans for $130-million highrise shop-top housing in the heart of the seaside suburb of Wynnum.

Brisbane-based developer Hambros has lodged plans for a 21-storey apartment tower on the vacant lot neighbouring the Wynnum Central Shopping Centre, after winning approval for an small extension to the retail centre late last year.

The development comprises a 6-storey retail and commercial podium, with a 275-apartment tower above, backing on to Wynnum Central Park.

Hambros has reportedly spent about $14 million on revamping the Wynnum Central Shopping Centre on Bay Terrace, as part of a $74-million plan to rejuvenate Wynnum, including cinemas.

According to planning documents lodged with the Brisbane City Council, the tower will be made up of 54 one-bedroom apartments, 148 two-bedroom apartments, and 67 three-bedroom apartments, with six penthouses, which will have private rooftop space and their own pools.

The building height is well in excess of the allowable five to eight storeys in the Wynnum Manly Neighbourhood Plan, but town planners Gateway Survey and Planning argued the plan was “outdated” and should be overhauled.

The six-storey podium would contain two levels of parking, a retail tenancy at ground level, a floor of retail, with two storeys of commercial space for office, healthcare and events space on levels 5 and 6.

Developer Pitches for Shop-Top Housing on Bayside Brisbane

▲ Shayher Group won approval for its redevelopment of Wynnum Plaza last year, which included 184 apartments across eight residential buildings.

In a statement to the council Hambros director Justin Ham said the Wynnum CBD had been left behind “with no development occurring in the last 20 years”.

“Our project is designed to put Wynnum CBD on the ‘open for business’ map,” Ham said.

“This landmark development, with a construction cost estimated at $130 million will have a huge financial and community positive impact on the Wynnum CBD and surrounding areas.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifestime opportunity to create a beautiful space overlooking the best bay in the world.”

Ham said the development would bring much-needed foot traffic to the heart of the Wynnum CBD and help bolster businesses and landowners he said were struggling to remain profitable.

Taiwanese developer Shayher Group won approval for a masterplanned retail precinct at Wynnum Plaza with plans for 184 apartments across eight residential buildings as well as boutique cinemas and increased retail space, reportedly worth more than $100 million.

Work on the Wynnum Plaza redevelopment was due to commence later this year with a completion date hedged for 2024.



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More room in the Brisbane property price bubble but get ready for a reckoning, says bank

Brisbane property price bubble but get ready for a reckoning

Brisbane’s house prices would continue to outpace the nation this year but a significant slump was near, according to the ANZ.

The bank’s economics team has revised its outlook for house prices and now tips a fall of about 3 per cent nationally this year followed by an 8 per cent fall next year. It had previously tipped a rise of 8 per cent this year and a fall of 6 per cent next year.

In Brisbane, the monthly growth rate has slipped down to about 2.5 per cent and ANZ expects a yearly rate this year of about 6 per cent with a fall of about 9 per cent next year.

The higher end of the market in Brisbane was also continuing to outpace the middle and lower price bracket in growth rates.

The downturn was being caused by higher interest rates and affordability issues and ANZ said the “wealth effect” would come into play which would spread the housing downturn to other areas of the economy.

“Falling house prices will weigh on consumer spending through the wealth effect, but high savings will provide a solid buffer,” ANZ said.

It expects the RBA cash rate to get to 2.35 per cent by mid-2023 while the market is tipping a 3.25 per cent. A cash rate of 2.35 per cent meant a variable rate mortgage of 4.75 per cent and a 3.25 per cent rate would increase variable loans to 5.65 per cent.

It said some people may struggle but forced selling because of higher interest rates was a low risk.

Meanwhile, CoreLogic said the Coalition’s plan to allow first home buyers to access their superannuation accounts to help pay for a house had some merit but there were downsides, including the possibility that it would only stimulate demand for housing and increase the cost “eroding some of the benefit of dipping into their super”.
CoreLogic worked out that under the scheme the median amount that could be accessed would be about $10,000, the equivalent of state-based first home buyer grants.
“CoreLogic data shows the current median dwelling value in Australia is $748,635, meaning the scheme could help increase the size of a standard deposit by around 1 per cent,” the company said.
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