Queensland’s unit and townhouse market - including on the Gold Coast - is beginning to heal, with first home buyers and investors leading the way, new data shows.
“As we move into 2012, REIQ accredited agencies are reporting healthier levels of enquiry with first home buyers and investors especially taking a keen interest in the more affordable unit and townhouse market,” the REIQ said, following the release of its December quarter property report for units and townhouses.
According to reiq.com, there are more than 5,000 listings for Queensland units and townhouses currently for sale under $350,000.
Unit and townhouse prices in the fourth quarter of last year rebounded in most areas of South East Queensland. Only the Sunshine Coast (down 4.4 per cent on the previous quarter to $325,000) and Logan City (down 0.9 per cent to $262,250) reported lower median prices.
The softening of property prices over the past two years, as well as the relatively low interest rate environment, is partially behind this increase in demand, the REIQ said.
Commenting on the broader property market, Lane Russell, a joint director at PRDnationwide Burleigh Heads, told Smart Property Investment's sister magazine Real Estate Business that buyer activity was increasing.
“We haven’t seen numbers like these since pre-GFC,” she said. “Interest rate drops have brought buyers forward and boosted confidence.”
Even the smaller agents are noticing a difference. Shane Evans, principal of Gold Coast-based Finesse Property, which operates solely online, told Smart Property Investment's sister magazine Real Estate Business that his recent sales results were a ‘brilliant start to the year.’
“I found the market changed around December when we made record sales. Then in January we broke that record again by 200 per cent.”
Both Mr Evans and Ms Russell agreed that the last quarter of 2011 marked the turning point in Queensland’s property market.
The number of first home buyers continues to improve in Queensland with the latest ABS figures showing they now represent about 20 per cent of the market.
The median unit and townhouse price in Brisbane increased two per cent to $400,000 over the December quarter, while on the Gold Coast prices increased 5.3 per cent to $350,000. The Gold Coast median price though was still 5.3 per cent lower than it was one year earlier.
According to the REIQ, median price reductions have been recorded in some regional areas, however, the unit and townhouse market in these regions is historically much smaller than their housing market so is more prone to median price fluctuations on a quarterly basis.
“Fraser Coast, for example, registered a median unit price fall of 15.6 per cent to $270,000 over the December quarter however this was because there was a reduction in the number of new and waterfront properties sold compared to the previous quarter,” the REIQ said.
“Over the year ending December its median unit price was steady.”
“An increase in the preliminary numbers of unit sales was recorded on the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns over the quarter.
“With the exception of Cairns, all major regions posted either steady or increased median unit prices over the year ending December.”