It’s always been shiny and fun, but the Gold Coast has traditionally delivered much duller and markedly less thrilling property gains than Melbourne or Sydney.
But today we’re beginning to see that turn around completely. “Now it’s starting to experience the kind of growth we’ve been seeing in the southern cities over the last few years,” says Sahba Abedian, managing director of Queensland developer Sunland Group.
“It’s proving a great period for many interstate investors, and people wanting to come here to relocate.”
Mr Abedian says that with the Sydney median house price now still close to $1 million, if you compare that with the south-east Queensland median of just over $500,000, it’s a very attractive place for interstate buyers to invest.
Angus Johnson, joint managing director of developer Citimark, agrees. “The Gold Coast market, and Surfers Paradise in particular, has lagged significantly behind other cities on the eastern seaboard, but now that’s changing. Over the past seven years there’s been a lack of development too which has driven price growth, and there’s strong demand for good property.”
Happily, there are a lot more high-quality projects coming on to the market.
Sunland has its Magnoli Residences in Palm Beach coming up, a collection of 88 luxury terrace homes with two pocket parks just metres from the beachfront. Prices have not yet been released, but are expected to range from $680,000 to $750,000.
Citimark also has an acclaimed new project, Markwell Residences by Citimark, a tower of 207 apartments close to the beach at Surfers Paradise and overlooking the river. Two-bedroom apartments are from $553,000 and three-bedroom units from $1,340,000.
Meanwhile, the Morris Property Group has two new developments in hand.Qube, a 40-level tower of 202 apartments by architects DBI Design, will be at nearby Broadbeach, on the light rail and just a short walk to Pacific Fair, the casino, restaurants and bars. Two-bedrooms will start at $549,900 and threes from $1.26 million.
Its second is Boardwalk on the beachfront at Burleigh Beach, 128 apartments over 20 storeys, by the same architects. Two-bedroom units are from $610,900 and threes from $825,900.
“It’s pretty special,” says Nicholas Clydesdale, director of CBRE residential project marketing on the Gold Coast. “There hasn’t been any new stock on that area for over a decade and to be on the actual beachfront …
“There’s suddenly a huge demand for good property from buyers in Sydney and Melbourne. Two years ago, 10 per cent of our inquiries were from the southern states. Now it’s over 40 per cent. The Gold Coast market has been chronically undersupplied for six to eight years, but now we’re the fastest growing major non-capital city in Australia.”
The reasons for that turnaround are several. There’s been massive investment in infrastructure on the Gold Coast, with the light rail and the new extension to the heavy rail coming up linking it to Brisbane. Then there’s been the $345 million make over of Jupiters Hotel and Casino, as well as plans for a new one, and the $670 million investment in the Pacific Fair shopping centre.
A major driver has been the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games – with 1.5 million predicted to attend ticketed events — but strong tourism figures and the high level of migration to the area have also been spurs.
Bernard Salt’s 2015 Report on the Gold Coast City Growth describes how the area’s added close to 15,000 new residents a year and predicts that, by the middle of this century, the Gold Coast will contain 1.2 million residents.
“The Gold Coast has all the right economic fundamentals and it’s without a doubt the strongest part of the Queensland economy,” says Johnson. “That’s driving jobs and population growth and, when you put that together with capital investment, you end up with an environment that’s really conducive to escalating prices.”
Stock on offer, says Clydesdale, ranges from $400,000 to over $1.5 million, with prices still much lower for comparable properties in Melbourne or Sydney. For investors, the rental market is very tight with a 1.1 per cent vacancy rate.
It’s the kind of atmosphere developers love for launching ambitious projects. One is Jewel Gold Coast by Wanda Ridong, a collection of three towers on 130m of absolute beachfront at Surfers Paradise of 47, 41 and 34 levels, with 512 apartments, and a five-star hotel on the lower levels of the tallest tower.
When completed in 2018, it will be Australia’s largest hotel and residential complex. Prices start at $673,000 for a one-bed plus study, $1.25 million for two-beds, $2 million for two-bed plus study, and one of the three-beds recently sold for $5 million.
“We now have one of the most recognisable beaches in the world, and with so much new infrastructure, we are now known as an affordable international destination,” says sales and marketing director Lucas Wilson. “When people want to live the life of the rich and famous in places like Rio and Monaco, they can now do it right here!”
There are also low-rise homes on offer on the Gold Coast, too. On Hope Island, Anchorage is being developed, with 220 units in seven buildings from two-storey townhouses to 10 levels, over 1.7 hectares on the waterfront. Two bedrooms with a study start at $460,000 and threes at $595,000, and facilities include a gym, pool, jetties, open space, a communal vegetable garden and a small group of shops.
“It’s on a really good location on Hope Island,” says Reza Niari, spokesperson for developer Richope Pty Ltd. “A lot of inquiries are coming from owner occupiers.”
Heading north: Lance Kerr and his wife have just bought an apartment in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast. Photo: Daniel Munoz
For the past 40 years, Telstra worker Lance Kerr has been travelling up to the Gold Coast for his family holidays. Eventually, he decided he might as well move there full time.
Now he’s bought a terrace in Sunland’s Magnoli Residences at Palm Beach, and is planning to sell his own house in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills and have a retirement seachange.
“I think it’s going to be a very good investment as well,” says Kerr, 62, who’ll be moving with banker wife Lorraine, 61, with visits from their four grown-up children.
“There’s just so much happening on the Gold Coast now, with the Commonwealth Games coming up and Palm Beach and all around there upcoming areas. It used to be only a place for older people to live but now the new generation are coming, too.”
It’s the laidback lifestyle Kerr loves, as well as the weather and the lack of traffic jams and queues for everything in Sydney from visiting the doctor to going to the shops.
“And the prices are so much more affordable!” he says. “You couldn’t get a place out back of Penrith for what I’m paying for a brand new home on the beach. For us, it’s going to be ideal!”