Urban planning pays off in Forest Lake

A master-planned community in south-west Brisbane shows why it pays to get in on the ground floor.

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A Queensland suburb in Brisbane’s west, Forest Lake was recently named in the highly coveted Smart Property Investment Fast 50 ranking for 2024, which was released to the public earlier this month.

The report and ranking combine the insights of a 14-strong investment expert panel and recent housing performance drawn from open-source data and aim to give unparalleled insight into the Australian suburbs that are primed for future growth.

Based on the data from CoreLogic, Forest Lake offers an entry into the Brisbane market that is well below the median house price in the Sunshine State capital.

The first master-planned community within Queensland, the average home price in the leafy suburb goes for $688,000. The median value for a house in Greater Brisbane as of April 2023 was $781,881.

And now may be the time to buy. Despite a dampened market off the back of interest rate rises that dominated most of the past year, homes in Forest Lake still rose by 21.4 per cent over the previous 12 months. The average annual growth sits still in healthy territory, at 6.6 per cent.

And with gross rental yields sitting at 3.9 per cent, Forest Lake represents a good buy for investors looking to capitalise on continued interest in Brisbane, especially ahead of the 2032 Olympics that will be hosted in the region.

Located roughly 20 kilometres from Brisbane’s central business district, one of the most attractive amenities of Forest Lake is the 10-hectare lake that sits at the centre of the suburb. The lake is surrounded by parks and walkways that provide a perfect spot for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and picnicking. The lake is also home to various species of birds, making it a popular spot for bird watchers.

New visitors to the locale might find it hard to believe that this site of ecological beauty is actually man-made. In fact, the surrounding suburb is entirely a master-planned suburb within Brisbane City.

An important fixture of Brisbane’s plan to boost housing supply in the 1990s, the development was the first modern-day community to contain small lot products, which proved exceedingly popular. Over several stages of development, the land transformed into tasteful arrangements of homes catering to different tastes and family structures, grouped into neighbourhoods with names such as Brooklands, Banksia Village, Chain of Ponds, and Jubilee Crossing. The last block of land up for development was sold in 2006.

The urban plan also included a concerted effort in community building, with several schools opening in the ’90s and into the 2000s and a bustling town centre that offers a range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

And while during its inception, the suburb may have lacked the established charm of the leafy suburbs that it abutted, 30 years later, Forest Lake is proof that good planning pays off.

The young trees are now grown, and the 2.7-kilometre perimeter of the lake looks completely natural to South-East Queensland’s habitat.

Indeed, as Smart Property Investment’s Phil Tarrant and Pure Property Investment’s Paul Glossop noted during a recent discussion, Forest Lake’s place on the list is testament to seeing the long-term potential in up-and-coming suburbs — literally, when they’re being built from the ground up.

They noted, “Forest Lake shows that there’s value in getting in on the ground floor. A community created entirely by urban planners, it’s been mindfully thought out and shows how new developments can ultimately deliver on their promise.”

Master-planned communities might not have the charm some buyers are after while the site is still partly under construction and the buildings, flora, and local amenities are all brand new, but if the groundwork has been laid carefully, they’ll become well-established in no time.

Take a walk around Forest Lake at sunset, and you’ll see how the patience of nature lovers has paid off. And the glistening waters at its heart are not the only thing attracting buyers in search of an active, outdoor lifestyle. The suburb has over 10 parks, including the Forest Lake Parklands, which is the largest and most popular park in the area. The park features several sporting facilities, playgrounds, and barbeque areas, making it an ideal spot for family outings and events.

To find out which other suburbs made the Fast 50 2024, click here.

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