Brisbane’s investment property market

The rate of growth – more than a quarter of all of Australia’s population growth over the next 25 years is expected to be in the region from Noosa to Coolangatta – will push Brisbane ahead of Melbourne as the country’s second city. All those extra people will need somewhere to live – 575,000 new homes will be built in the next 20 years, according to the State Government’s South-East Queensland’s Regional Plan.

One of the major motivations for the plan was to legislate against sprawl and 80 percent of the land in the region has been protected from urban development. Major new growth areas aside, much of the new housing will be concentrated around public transport and “activity centres” which may include workplaces, educational, health and community facilities and shopping centres.

Many of these will be existing centres such as Chermside or Mt. Gravatt, others will be purpose-built. Traditional family homes will give way to higher density accommodation such as apartment blocks, units and townhouses in these locations. A report by property experts KPMG predicted Brisbane will have 46 percent more dwellings in 2031 than 2001, the Sunshine Coast 63 percent more and the Gold Coast 56 percent more.

Property analyst Michael Matusik says cost will make inner-city living an impossible dream for all but a small, exclusive group and only the wealthy will be able to afford to live within a 15km radius of the central business district.  With the average house price in southeast Queensland likely to hit $1 million by 2026, he predicts up to 45 percent of people will be renting.

The SEQ Regional Plan Developments on green field sites in the southeast will incorporate a variety of housing types, sizes and designs – ending the “one-size-fits-all” sort of housing estates which have sprung up in many areas over recent Years. And the death of the Tuscan-style house may be nigh. Houses of the future will have to be designed to reflect the area’s sub-tropical climate and incorporate “passive climate controls” such as vegetation use and positioning the house on the property.

Power and water efficiency will be more important and the State Government has set a target for a 25 percent reduction in water consumption over 20 years from the current 300 litres per person per day. Rainwater tanks and water recycling will become commonplace.

The Government estimates that 475,000 new jobs will be needed to support the extra population over the next two decades. The Smart State strategy has identified knowledge-based, creative industries as the growth areas. These would include aviation and aerospace (especially in the western corridor), biotechnology, information and technology, tourism and pharmaceuticals.

It is also envisaged that we will attract more professional, business and financial services away from Victoria. The “activity centres” concept in the Government infrastructure plan is aimed at reducing the huge amount of traffic commuting across the city and across the southeast region each day. The idea is that people will live close to centres, based on key public transport hubs and they will catch buses or trains there to work, shop, use government services and recreation and leisure facilities.

Major projects proposed for Brisbane in the plan include

  • $2 billion of rail development on the Sunshine Coast including an additional line through Landsborough to Nambour and a new line to Maroochydore.
  • More than $1.2 billion for new bus-ways in Brisbane including one from Dutton Park to Capalaba and another from Enoggera Creek to bracken Ridge.
  • $590 million to add a rail line from Corinda to Redbank and a new line from Darra to Springfield.
  • $500 million for a rail line to Coolangatta.
  • The heart of Brisbane will be transformed over the next 20 years under a city council master-plan. Building height limits will be removed and cars discouraged as major public transport initiatives carry people into a more pedestrian-friendly central business district.
  • An underground city rail circuit with stations at Gardens Pt, Eagle St, Spring Hill and Centenary Place
  • An underground bus network with a station below King George Square and vehicles travelling below Roma St and Adelaide St to connect with the inner Northern Bus way.
  • A mass transit system connecting West End, the City and Fortitude Valley.
  • Roma St, Edward St, Victoria Bridge and the top of Melbourne St will become pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards with traffic calming
  • Three new pedestrian and cycle bridges over the river and a bus bridge from Adelaide St. to South Bank.
  • New plazas at Melbourne St. and Eagle St. and a riverside plaza at North Quay.

From the big country town of two decades ago to a modern super city in 2026, the transformation of Brisbane and southeast Queensland over the next 20 years will be beyond the imagination of many.

Brisbane 2009

Median house price: $452,500 – 1.59% increase in last 12 months.
Median unit price: $358,000 – 1.11% increase in last 12 months.

While Melbourne and Sydney performed well, the Brisbane market has been more subdued, with growth of only 0.06% in the last quarter. This is largely due to its state economy that’s taken a bit of a battering, primarily with a slowdown in its tourism and resources sectors. And this is despite the fact that Brisbane has recorded some of the most significant population growth in Australia over the past year.

All this suggests that Brisbane’s property market has some catching up to do as we head into 2010 and therefore presents some good medium-term investment opportunities.  Unlike Melbourne and Sydney though, where the inner city apartment market generally represents good buying for investors, some of the best opportunities in Brisbane are properties with development potential within a 10 to 12 kilometre radius of the CBD.

Look for old Queenslanders that can be pulled down to make way for apartments, duplexes or townhouses. These development sites currently represent excellent investment potential in Brisbane as the local council is forced to introduce new planning legislation to encourage more medium density accommodation to house the rapidly growing population.

Performance has been well above average over the long-term in Brisbane, at 11.71% per annum over the last 10 years for houses and 10.55% per annum for units and I am confident that inner suburban Brisbane property will continue to outperform over the medium- to long-term.