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Queensland’s first $3 million suburb is just one pineapple away

Queensland 1

Queensland is just $50 away from its first $3 million suburb, with new data revealing there are now 88 suburbs across the Sunshine State with a median house price of $1 million or more.

Following a record year of growth and high-profile sales, house prices across the quiet village of Sunshine Beach reached a median price of $2,999,950 by December 2021, according to the latest Domain House Price Report.

The prestigious pocket, tucked away over the hill from Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast, has been a break-out property star in recent years. During 2021, house prices there rose by a massive 50 per cent.

But it’s over the past five years where the full scope of Sunshine Beach’s growth is clearest: since December 2016, house prices have soared by 209 per cent, and it’s now the third-strongest property market in the entire nation.

What used to be Noosa’s best-kept secret is now well and truly out in the open, said Rachel Sellman of Century 21 Conolly Hay Group.

“Anyone who sold in Sunshine Beach I bet now wishes they hadn’t,” she said. “And my team has made some sales in January that would’ve tipped us over the $3 million mark by now I’m sure.”

Ms Sellman said Sunshine Beach had become more popular as Noosa got busier.

“People with a lot of money don’t want to be in that rat race,” she said. “For a while, people were almost finding Sunshine Beach by accident. They would find themselves walking through the national park from Noosa, popping out the other side, and not even knowing where they were.

“They’d come to us and say, ‘I’ve never seen this place before; I want to stay here next time I come.’ Then they’d come back, they’d tell their friends, and all of a sudden it became the place everyone wanted to be.”

Sunshine Beach has chalked up a slew of record-breaking sales in recent years, including last year’s $34 million trophy-home sale that obliterated the Queensland property price record – that deal was linked to Gina Rinehart – and the $17 million sale of what was once Pat Rafter’s beachfront mansion to Therese Rein, businesswoman and wife to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in 2020.


Pat Rafter’s old house at Sunshine Beach, which Therese Rein and Kevin Rudd purchased in 2020 for $17 million.

“We used to say ‘don’t tell anyone else’ to people when they came here, but as soon as someone high profile buys, it’s on everyone’s radar,” Ms Sellman said.

“They come and experience Sunshine Beach and realise what the hype is all about. Ultimately it’s still the same beautiful, quiet little village where everyone is relaxed. And if you want to go to Noosa it’s only a three-minute drive or a walk through the national park.”

Famous faces and high-profile names aside, the meteoric rise of Sunshine Beach as one of Australia’s most sought-after property markets can also be attributed to its unique topography – it slopes upwards away from the beach, which means the stunning beach views are enjoyed by more properties than just those at the front – as well as the great COVID migration to coastal locations while people work from home.

“COVID has changed the amount of people who actually reside here rather than invest here,” Ms Sellman said.

“A lot of people have realised they can work from home. Fifteen years ago you could go for a run along the beach in the afternoon and a lot of the lights were off. Now, most of them are on.

“People are selling their smaller investments in Sunshine Beach and buying a bigger home to spend most of the year in. And the elevation of the land keeps house prices high here because the price doesn’t tend to drop if you’re a street or two back.

“You can be behind the beach and a few streets back and still get a great view. And everything faces east.”

While Sunshine Beach will be the first Queensland suburb to break the $3 million median house price barrier, it’s unlikely to be the last.

Queensland’s annual net interstate migration is at its highest level in almost 20 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The lure of working from home with more space and sunshine, coupled with its relatively affordable house prices, helped drive more than 30,000 people to the Sunshine State in the year to June 2021. That figure accounted for more than 90 per cent of Australia’s net interstate migration.

“Prior to the pandemic there was a drain of residents [in Queensland] but since the pandemic, they’ve seen a net gain of people choosing to live there. That changes the housing market,” said Nicola Powell, chief of research and economics at Domain.

Greater Brisbane saw its house prices rise at their steepest rate in 18 years last year. Suburbs that had once drawn gasps for their million-dollar medians have sailed well past that point into the $2 million club.

Following Sunshine Beach, which tops the list of Queensland’s most expensive suburbs, are luxury postcodes like Mermaid Beach ($2.375 million), New Farm ($2.15 million) and Teneriffe ($2,077,500).

Old-money suburb Ascot is on the verge of the $2 million club, recording a median price of $1,938,500, with Paradise Point on the Gold Coast not far behind with a median of $1.9 million.

Minyama, also on the Sunshine Coast, is well on its way to cementing its place as one of the most expensive suburbs in the state, following a phenomenal period of growth.

The median house price in Minyama jumped by a massive 88 per cent last year – the highest percentage rise of any suburb or locality in Queensland in 2021 – and over the past five years, prices have risen by a staggering 212.9 per cent.

It was one of only two suburbs in Australia to pip Sunshine Beach’s five-year house price growth – the other was the master-planned community of Aintree in Victoria, up by 250.5 per cent – but its astonishing rate of growth is for different reasons, said Jordan Lund of Elite Lifestyle Properties.

“The appeal of Minyama is because of the direct ocean access. There’s nowhere else like it on the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Lund said.

“We do get a couple of the holidaymakers or people wanting a long-term position to hold their boats but mainly our clients are local people upgrading from their place on the Sunny Coast that isn’t on the water.

“What we are finding here is even people from Noosa are starting to recognise the position and how good the ocean access is here – you can store up to a 100-foot vessel.”

Minyama is a suburb situated on the Mooloolah River, located just south of popular beach holiday spot Mooloolaba and surrounded almost entirely by water.

Mr Lund said there was nowhere near enough housing stock to sate buyer demand.

“Most properties are selling prior to hitting the market. I’d say only 50 per cent hit the market,” he said. “The problem has always been for buyers that no one leaves. When they do leave it’s to downsize, when they’re not using the water as frequently as they used to, and they transition to a unit. There’s no other reason.

“So with turnover of property that low, stock is extremely limited and the key positions in Minyama just don’t transact.”

Mr Lund said there was still plenty of room for Minyama’s house price to grow further still.

“Even since December, there are transactions that haven’t settled yet that will show the true extent of the growth we’ve had in this suburb. This has been such a quiet, hidden part of the coastline for so long but those days are over,” he said.

Queensland’s top 20 most expensive suburbs for house prices

RegionRegionMedianAnnual change5-year change
Sunshine BeachSunshine Coast$2,999,95050.0%209.3%
Mermaid BeachGold Coast Central$2,375,00042.6%73.4%
New FarmBrisbane North$2,150,00030.7%59.3%
TeneriffeBrisbane North$2,077,500158.1%
AscotBayside North$1,938,50036.5%53.2%
Paradise PointGold Coast North$1,900,00058.3%89.1%
Surfers ParadiseGold Coast Central$1,830,00016.2%51.9%
MinyamaSunshine Coast$1,815,00082.0%212.9%
HawthorneBrisbane East$1,700,00037.9%41.7%
Highgate HillBrisbane West$1,695,00034.5%
HamiltonBayside North$1,650,0003.1%43.5%
Noosa HeadsSunshine Coast$1,645,00019.6%93.5%
PullenvaleBrisbane West$1,600,00025.4%49.5%
BundallGold Coast Central$1,590,00049.3%73.8%
St LuciaBrisbane West$1,570,00016.7%60.4%
Tallebudgera ValleyGold Coast South$1,550,000
Fig Tree PocketBrisbane West$1,550,00030.1%61.5%
Broadbeach WatersGold Coast Central$1,530,00019.8%42.3%
Sunrise BeachSunshine Coast$1,520,00044.8%125.1%
DoonanSunshine Coast$1,487,50038.4%103.8%

Data provided by domain 
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Market Place

Boomers a ‘Force of Change’ in Retirement Property Market

Property Market

As teenagers they invented pop culture and now—much older, collectively wealthier and arguably wiser—they are defining a new age group and re-inventing retirement living.

Millenials may have surpassed them in numbers but baby boomers are still having significant influence on world economies and trends—not least in the property market.

“The baby boomers are coming through and have become a force for change in the seniors’ market,” said Cameron Kirby, managing director of Kirby Consulting Group, a retirement and aged care specialist.

“The more progressive operators are definitely getting their ducks in a line.

“And there’s a lot of developers interested in dipping their toes in the market for the first time, some of them with more than 30 years’ experience in the development industry, because they can see there is huge opportunity.

“[But] many developers that want to enter into this space are probably a bit reticent because they’re worried about the complexity of it, they’re worried about the unknowns.

“The opportunities, however, far outweigh any of their concerns.

“And if you’re offering what the market wants, you’re going to be successful.”

Kirby will be a speaker at The Urban Developer Developing For An Ageing Demographic vSummit on April 28.

“The sector is continuously changing,” he said.

“You’ve got land lease communities and over-55 developments that have been moving into the traditional retirement village space.

“And, at the moment, there’s a lot of talk about integrated care in retirement living with a greater weighting on having more retirement villages and less aged care.”

Last year, a survey by benchmarking firm StewartBrown showed 58 per cent of aged care homes were operating at a loss, up from 55 per cent the previous financial year, and 32 per cent made a cash loss.

“Aged care has got some major challenges … but in the meantime there’s also the baby boomers coming through,” Kirby said.

“What I’ve seen over the last 10 years is a bit of a slide where low-care people that used to go into aged care are more likely to go into retirement villages and, equally, people that used to go into more traditional retirement villages are now probably more interested in moving into land lease communities and over-55s concepts.

“Land lease communities are growing very fast and are hugely attractive, there’s no doubt about that … but retirement villages have upped the ante enormously as well, they tend to offer much more wellness and are moving more towards the care side of things.

“Certainly, operators who are offering care in retirement villages are going from strength to strength.

“There’s an increasing amount of quality retirement villages with hotel and resort-style living and state-of-the-art amenities coming online. Pools, gyms, spas, saunas, cinemas, you name it they’ve got it. 

“But those retirement living operators that have a full continuum of care solution that’s what the market is demanding … [the boomers] know they’re going to need some support down the line so they’re planning for their future.

“It really doesn’t matter, however, whether you’re doing aged care, retirement, over-55s or land lease community … because demand is outstripping supply. There is a market for all of those and they attract very different types of buyers.”

Kirby said given Australia’s ageing demographic, the seniors and retirement market was a “much more defensive proposition” for developers.

“Just as healthcare is a defensive stock on the stock market, I think seniors living is a much more defensive play in the property sector,” he said.

“It tends to be more needs driven than what a straight-out residential property play would be.

“And so, I think if we are going to be headed towards a softer property market this is an area that can really shine because seniors will still have the wealth and will still want to move and look at downsizing opportunities.”


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Houses still in high demand, apartment prices lag


The price growth of apartments continues to lag rocketing house prices in many suburbs across Sydney and Melbourne, with the trend showing little signs of abating.

The widening price gap between houses and units is a long-term trend driven by land scarcity in our biggest cities, with the difference tending to be widest between houses and high-rise apartments.

While house prices in Sydney’s North Ryde soared 29 per cent in the year ended March 31, unit prices in the suburb grew by a mere 6 per cent. Similarly, prices in Homebush grew 29 per cent, compared to unit price growth of just 7 per cent.

In Sydney’s Pennant Hills, house prices grew 24 per cent, while unit prices were flat, figures from CoreLogic show.

It is the same story in many parts of Melbourne, with Essendon North house prices growing by 19 per cent over the same period, while apartment prices fell by almost 1 per cent.

Houses in Melbourne’s Canterbury saw their prices jump more than 14 per cent, while units dipped 4 per cent. In inner-city Hawthorn East, houses were up 9.6 per cent, compared to a 6 per cent fall in unit prices.

Earlier analysis by CoreLogic showed more expensive property markets, particularly those close to CBDs and in areas where there are high numbers of units relative to houses, tend to have the biggest price gaps.

Eliza Owen, head of research at CoreLogic, says one of the reasons for the relative recent poor price performance of unit markets is COVID-19 related travel restrictions, including the closure of Australia’s international borders.

Demand for investment units in urbanised centres likely fell because of their high exposure to migrants and international students.

During the height of the pandemic, many units were empty, particularly in inner Melbourne.

The re-opening of international borders is seeing arrivals from overseas rising quickly, which should help to support the prices of units in both Sydney and Melbourne, she says.

However, Owen says one area of concern remains the prospect of higher mortgage interest rates, with prices of investment units more sensitive to rate movements than houses.

Many analysts expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to start increasing official interest rates this year, possible as early as June, with lenders expected to pass on any hikes in their variable rate mortgages.

Following two years of surging property prices, the big gains made over the past year appear to be over.

Sydney house prices were 0.1 per cent lower in March after being flat in February. Unit prices were 0.5 per cent lower in March and 0.3 per cent lower in February.

In Melbourne, house prices down 0.2 per cent lower in March, following flat prices February. Unit prices were 0.2 per cent higher in March and 0.1 per cent higher in February. However, those small gains came after big falls in inner-city unit property values during COVID-19 restrictions.

Coming off the back of strong annual growth, falling affordability continues to be a key factor affecting property market conditions.

A surge in the cost of living and rising rents is restricting the ability of prospective homeowners to save and borrow.

In last month’s federal budget, the government expanded the number of places available in its low-deposit scheme.

The program allows first-home buyers, and others, to buy new or existing dwellings with a deposit of only 5 per cent, instead of the usual 20 per cent that is needed to avoid paying expensive lenders’ mortgage insurance.


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Brisbane house prices leave units in the dust

Brisbane house prices

The gap between house and apartment prices in Brisbane is now the widest in at least two decades, but is set to shrink over the next 12 months as housing affordability bites and buyers choose cheaper options, Colliers says.

Colliers residential director Queensland, Andrew Roubicek, said the price difference between houses and apartments in Brisbane has reached 45 per cent compared with an average of around 20 per cent between 2003 and 2015.

Brisbane house prices further escalated with the onset on COVID-19 when people placed a higher value on privacy with interstate migration to the Sunshine State also propelling Queensland’s property market.

Property data company CoreLogic estimates that Brisbane house prices increased 32 per cent in the year ended March 31 compared with 15 per cent growth for units over the same period.

CoreLogic said house price growth is slowing faster than units and Mr Roubicek predicted that Brisbane apartment values will rise by “at least” another 15 per cent in the next 12 months.

Mr Roubicek said rising construction costs have hit the new apartment market hard and that comparable established stock costs about 25 per cent less.

“There have been several examples of new developments achieving pre-sale [targets] only to have developers refund deposits and tear up contracts because building costs escalated to a point where it was financially unviable,” he said.

“As a consequence, developers who are looking to acquire new development sites are forced to increase their projected sales prices by around 20 per cent.

“Just 18 months ago a two-bedroom apartment in Brisbane might have sold off the plan for $9000 per square metre.

“But to build that apartment today the developer would need to achieve a sale price of $11,000 per square metre for the project to stack up.”

He said as result new stock is selling slower than established units, a trend that will play out through the rest of this year.

“The market is coming to terms with those newer prices and are seeing in the short-term better value for money in the established unit market.”

He said it is a similar scenario to when GST was introduced in 2000.

“When GST came into the market overnight the cost of housing went up 10 per cent and put more demand into the established market, where the prices of stock grew and the difference between new and second hand became narrower.”

Mr Roubicek said he believed the record price gap between houses and apartments will contract through the year.

“If you believe in history, if you believe in charts, and take a long-term view you would have to think that gap is going to narrow because everyone’s talking about affordability, everyone’s talking about interest rate movements,” he said.

“Natural forces will push what would have been a buyer of a detached home back into the unit market because of affordability.”


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