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First home buyers flock to one Brisbane suburb

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First home buyers flock to one Brisbane suburb

First home buyer Vedi Novakovic at her new StyleMaster home at North Lakes.

OVER $35 million has gone into helping first home buyers in Brisbane get a foot in the property market in the last two and half years, according to latest Queensland Government figures.

The numbers have seen North Lakes emerge as the Brisbane suburb with the highest number of first home buyers that have used the Great Start Grant since the current round began in September 2012.

Statistics for that period, released by the Queensland Treasury Office of State Revenue, found over $11.175 million had gone towards 745 first homeowners in Brisbane South and $8.145 million to 543 people in Brisbane North.

The Inner City had 470 new first homeowners share $7.05 million in Great Start Grant funds, Brisbane East had 426 share $6.39 million while Brisbane West saw $2.85 million go to 190 people.

The figures were released as the Great Start Grant neared its two-and-a-half-year milestone, with the Gold Coast seeing 902 first home buyers share in $13.53 million, Ipswich had 967 people split $14.505 million while Logan Beaudesert saw 867 people share $13.005 million.

Brisbane’s top grant suburb was North Lakes where 259 new homeowners accessed the special funding to get their first home, while Upper Coomera topped the Gold Coast with 210 people.

Vedi Novakovic was among those who have taken their first step into the property market in North Lakes using the Great Start Grant.

Her parents had moved to North Lakes from the southside four years ago, so when the time came to choose a new home, Ms Novakovic said the decision was easy.

“I looked at two or three other places (before this one). It wasn’t too long before we just went down the road to talk to the guys at the display houses in North Lakes. It was a pretty easy decision in the end.”

First home buyers flock to one Brisbane suburb

First home buyer Vedi Novakovic at her new StyleMaster home at North Lakes.


Ms Novakovic, 27, decided on package via developer Stockland and project builder Stylemaster because “the price and the concept looked good”.

“I’ve spent roughly around $350,000,” she said, and found the Great Start Grant “definitely helpful” – coming as it did at the end of construction.

“After the building finishes they give you back that $15,000. That’s helped a lot with landscaping and furniture.”

She has been in her new home for over a month, just five minutes away from her parents.

”It’s a work in progress. It’s scary but exciting at the same time. It’s wonderful. It feels like it’s always been mine.”

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics housing finance figures showed there was much more to come from the first homebuyer segment, with lending activity still “quite weak” according to Housing Industry Association economist Geordan Murray.

“The number of loans to first home buyers in the three months to February 2015 was around 8.2 per cent lower than the corresponding period a year earlier,” she said.

Property group Stockland regional manager David Laner has seen growth in both North Lakes and Upper Coomera where the company has residential communities.

First home buyers made up 34 per cent of all new house and land packages sold by Stockland in Queensland, he said – “the highest representation of any single buyer group”.

Stockland saw first homebuyers return to the market “in meaningful numbers” in the first half of the 2014-2015 financial year,.

“It’s important that we continue to encourage first homebuyer confidence and participation in the market. The Great Start Grant has been very successful in this regard and new and potential first homebuyers are undoubtedly looking to the government for reassurance that the grant will be maintained at current levels.”

He said many of Stockland’s recent first home buyers had settled in the urban Mode Village, which was now close to selling out.

Stockland also had a Highland Reserve development community in Upper Coomera on the Gold Coast, which Mr Laner said was also very popular.

“Young homebuyers like the central location and the fact that Highland Reserve has its own state primary school, childcare centre, cafe and central lake, and is handy to major employment centres,” he said.

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Hutchinson Builders takes over Cbus Brisbane tower that broke Probuild

Hutchinson Builders takes over Cbus Brisbane tower

Hutchinson Builders will take over the completion of Cbus Property’s troubled residential development in Brisbane, one of most problematic projects for failed construction contractor Probuild.

The awarding of the contract was widely expected, as family-owned Hutchies, the largest Queensland-based builder, was seen as the only contractor capable of taking on the 47-level project.

“Since commencing preliminary works on site three weeks ago, Cbus Property, together with Hutchinson Builders, continues to finalise subcontractor negotiations and prepare a revised construction programme,” Cbus Property chief executive Adrian Pozzo said on Monday.

“Once finalised, we will provide an update to purchasers with a more definitive completion timeline.”

Chairman Scott Hutchinson told The Australian Financial Review in early March he was “quietly hoping” to pick up the job and the announcement makes it second time lucky for the company that came second to Probuild in the 2017 race for the project.

Probuild had tendered a price for the project that was $40 million less than Hutchies’ price and a year faster to build, Mr Hutchinson said. Probuild has not confirmed those numbers, nor has Cbus Property.

But the project turned into such a drag for the business that Probuild parent WBHO said last year – long before putting the company into administration in February this year – that the project had racked up a $48 million loss.

Sydney-based Roberts Co has acquired Probuild’s Victorian projects and Built has taken over Dexus’ 25 Martin Place project in Sydney. The future of Greaton’s Ribbon project at Sydney’s Darling Harbour is still not clear.

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Tech Entrepreneur Disrupts With Shop-Top Development Proposal


The flames on the fryers at the Palm Beach Fish & Chips Shop, a roadside institution on Sydney’s northern beaches, flickered off months ago.

But tech rich-lister Robin Khuda is still feeling the heat.

The demolition crew has come and gone, levelling the site where locals along with movie stars, rock stars and sporting heroes had once placed their salt-sprinkled orders.

A development battle line—with a pristine view over Pittwater—has been drawn.

On one side is the wealthy founder of data centre operator AirTrunk who wants to build a shop-top residential development adjoining the landmark heritage-listed Barrenjoey House.

On the other side is a local community—much of it also cashed-up—fighting to protect the peninsula’s village vibe.

Khuda, who has been on a $120-million-plus property acquisition spree over the past couple of years, purchased the 1140sq m Barrenjoey Road site through his investment entity Asia Digital Investments for $6 million.

Since then, he has been seeking to amend the site’s existing development approval granted in 2014 for four apartments and three retail tenancies.

Last year, an application for modification of the development consent was lodged with the Northern Beaches Council for a three-level design with six apartments above retail.

But following community backlash and council feedback deeming it “unacceptable and inconsistent with the seaside village character” of the area it was withdrawn.


▲ The former Palm Beach Fish & Chips Shop on Barrenjoey Road, which has been demolished to make way for the controversial shop-top residential development.

Design firm Rob Mills Architecture went back to the drawing board to address the concerns regarding the proposal’s architectural style, appearance and relationship to the adjoining heritage listed Barrenjoey House.

Subsequently, a new application for an alternative shop-top concept—to be constructed at an estimated cost of about $13.6 million—was recently filed.

It comprises a three-storey building with pitched rather than flat roof forms that according to the documents is “both sympathetic to its context and contemporary in its use of materials and forms in response to local climate and the seaside village character”.

The new scheme includes a publicly-accessible plaza and “deep and generously proportioned” colonnade providing weather-protected outdoor seating adjacent to the commercial tenancies on the ground level.

It is topped with five residences—one two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments on the first level, and two four-bedroom apartments on the second level.


▲ Artist’s impression of the previous development proposal for the Barrenjoey Road site which was deemed “unacceptable and inconsistent with the seaside village character” of the area.

The new application concedes the upper-level roof eaves exceed the site’s 8.5m height blanket by as much as 2.99m in some parts and a height variation request has been submitted.

“We consider that such request is well-founded in that it facilitates the development of the site in a manner which provides far superior urban design, heritage conservation, residential amenity and landscape outcomes compared to the development approved,” the planning report said.

A submitted heritage impact statement noted the proposed new building was “similar in height and scale to Barrenjoey House” and although contemporary in character it “demonstrates respect for the key forms, architectural proportions and materiality” of its 99-year-old neighbour.

It concluded the proposed works would have “no impact on the ability to understand the significance of the nearby heritage listed items” and would support “the ongoing significance of the area as a neighbourhood precinct”.

Numerous submissions objecting to the new scheme already have been lodged by the local community.

They describe the proposal as a monstrosity, imposing, grossly out of character and, according to the owner of a property behind the site, even higher than the previous proposal.

“It is a bulky building that not only flaunts height restrictions but is of an ugly, pretentious post-modern design; a complete anachronism,” one of the objections said. “With heavy neo-classical porticos and and a pitched federation roofline it is not at all sympathetic to the site and the lifestyle of the area.”

But one of the submissions begged to differ describing it as “a beautiful asset to the already beautiful Palm Beach area”.

“We can’t keep living in the past and not let these beautifully designed buildings be built,” it added.

Khuda—who has amassed a $600 million fortune as a data centre entrepreneur—in recent times has been satisfying a newfound penchant for high-end property investment and development.

His property splurge has included a total of three holdings in Palm Beach for $25 million as well as a coastal retreat in Lennox Head for $7 million, an apartment in Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo tower for $10.7 million and a Mosman mansion for close to $20 million.

The AirTrunk chief executive has also acquired two old apartment blocks at Manly’s North Steyne for $18.2 million, which are earmarked for another luxury apartment development.


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Charter Hall raising $75m property fund

Charter Hall

Charter Hall’s hit the fund-raising trail to raise $75 million for its second fund in the Wholesale Property Series (WPS).

The WPS is a fund-of-fund targeted at high-net-worth types that invest in a mixed bag of Charter Hall’s commercial property assets.

The firm raised its first iteration two years ago, bringing in $278 million and returning 19.1 per cent on an annualised basis since then.

It began mailing out detailed information memorandums for WPS2 (official name: Charter Hall Wholesale Property Series No.2) this month with an initial $75 million target.

But the fundraising period would run for two years, making it likely the end size would match its older siblings’.

The fund is closed-ended with a seven-year term, with realisations to start from the fourth year. That’s a long lock-in commitment and potential investors were reminded of the rewards of patience; the fund is targeting total returns of 8 to 9 per cent with quarterly distributions.

Office and industrials (including logistics) were top of the list for allocations at 20 to 50 per cent of the portfolio each, followed by smaller allocations to long-WALE (10 to 40 per cent), social infrastructure (up to 30 per cent) and listed REITs (up to 15 per cent).

Charter Hall’s divvying up the initial $75 million across five of its funds, where the WPS2 would be either the institutional pooled investor or an institutional partner depending on the fund structure.

That’s 210 properties with 98.6 per cent occupancy and Telstra, David Jones, Bunnings, Macquarie and Aldi among the largest tenants, potential investors were told.

Charter Hall’s grown from $500 million in 2004 to $79.5 billion in group fund under management at December end. The wholesale segment has been a big part of its growth and accounted for $38.5 billion of the $61.3 billion it has in property.


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