Brisbane is like a car where the engine is revving but it can’t move forward because the handbrake is on. The city’s property market is poised for an up-cycle but, according to the generalised price data published in mainstream media, it’s not yet happening.
The key point for investors, however, is that there are many Brisbane markets achieving above-average price growth.
There’s no doubt that Brisbane real estate has an underlying strength and it continues to show gradual improvement in its market. It remains poised to deliver on the potential shown by advances in the economy, population trends (lots of Sydney refugees are escaping to affordable South-East Queensland) and infrastructure spending.
The price data for the Greater Brisbane Area is noteworthy, because it shows that the generalised figures published in mainstream media are highly misleading. The latest figures from sources like SQM Research, Domain and CoreLogic have Brisbane houses showing little or no growth in the past year, but Hotspotting’s suburb-by-suburb analysis shows there are many out-performers.
We analysed 269 suburban markets, looking at the latest price figures showing quarterly and annual growth rates: 83 of them have recorded annual price growth above 5% (including 20 suburbs with double-digit growth) and another 100 have recorded growth below 5%; 47 have dropped by less than 5% and 39 have dropped more than 5%.
This means seven out of 10 suburban markets have median prices higher than a year ago – very different to the trend in Sydney which is dominating media coverage and causing careless analysts and writers to morph that into a national downturn.
Many of the Brisbane suburbs where the median house price has lifted more than 10% are higher-end markets, including Bardon (up 11% to $1,005,000), Hendra (up 13% to 1,100,000), Graceville (up 13% to $950,000), Kenmore Hills (up 10.5% to $900,000), Norman Park (up 10% to $950,000) and Paddington (up 11% to $1,165,000).
But the highest annual growth in median house prices has been recorded for Sandgate houses (up 19% to $755,000).
A key trend is that 27 or the 39 markets with prices down more than 5% are unit markets: median prices have dropped for apartments in Bowen Hills (20%), Bulimba (15%), East Brisbane (15%), Woodridge (10%), Greenslopes (11%), Hamilton (11%) and Woody Point (18%).
This reflects the cold reality that the Brisbane unit market has been oversupplied for the past few years – and not just in the inner-city areas.
The Moreton Bay Region LGA has been the busiest market in Greater Brisbane for some time - and my latest survey of sales activity shows that the number of suburbs with rising demand has risen from 7 (six months ago) to 12 – making it one of the leading municipalities in the nation for growth markets.
Growth locations include Bray Park (median $435,000), where quarterly sales have been 37, 57, 62 and 65 in the past 12 months; Murrumba Downs ($540,000) where the sales pattern has been 50, 60, 58 and 68; and Everton Hills ($595,000), where sales have been 26, 39, 39 and 45.
A number of Moreton Bay suburbs recorded good median price growth in the past 12 months, including Beachmere (up 10%), Sandstone Point (8%), Upper Caboolture (7.5%), Strathpine (10%), Burpengary East (up 9%) and numerous others which grew 5-6%.
The Brisbane-north precinct (the northern suburbs of the sprawling Brisbane City Council area) is now level with the Moreton Bay Region on growth markets (those where demand, as measured by sales volumes, is rising).
With Moreton Bay Region and Brisbane-north the strongest market, it means the Brisbane market is strongest north of the Brisbane River (with more than half the rising suburbs in the Greater Brisbane area being in these two northside precincts).
A number of Brisbane-north suburbs recorded have good annual price growth, headed by Gordon Park (9%), Hendra (13%), Sandgate (19%), Newmarket (8%) and Nudgee (10%) – while many others have grown 5-6-7%.
These numbers, once again, show how misleading the generalised data is – and that investors need to dig a little deeper to find the growth markets. Brisbane - boosted by the affordability and rental yield comparisons with the biggest cities – has a lot more forward momentum than the media reports suggest.
Once the handbrake comes off (with the big banks starting to compete for business again and the Federal Election soon to be history), Brisbane will become a more obviously upwardly-mobile market.