Ray White records strong February as Gold Coast apartment prices start recovery

Gold Coast apartment prices improved by 5.3% during the December 2011 quarter to a median price of $350,000, according to the latest figures from Real Estate Institute of Queensland.

At the same time Ray White chairman Brian White reports that the group’s Surfers Paradise office, headed up by Mike Willems, was the top performer over the month.

White describes it as a “terrific achievement in such a tough market”.

“With the strengthening in buyer interest, the power of marketing continues to return great benefits to our sellers. Fewer days on market and so often a sale price to delight,” he says.

White says that a further 16 properties out of the 150 that were part of the “The Event” auction at the end of January had sold post-auction taking the total to 104.

Overall, Queensland was the most improved market, though White acknowledged this may be due to “the terrible conditions Queensland experienced in the first few months of 2011 because of floods and cyclones”.

“What was interesting was the strength of many of our regional businesses in Queensland – Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Gladstone being particularly prominent,” says White.

“Regional centres close to the massive investment expenditures through mining boom have seen their residential values increase nicely. For example, GladstoneCity median house price is up to over $482,000, 32% up from 12 months ago.”

Ray White’s strongest Brisbane office was the riverside suburb of Bulimba.

REIQ figures show a 2011 median price of $510,000 for Bulimba, virtually unchanged from $509,500 recorded in 2011.

Overall the median unit and townhouse price in Brisbane increased 2% to an even $400,000 during the December quarter.

According to the REIQ, median price reductions were recorded in some regional areas, however the unit and townhouse market in these regions is historically much smaller than their housing market and is more prone to median price fluctuations on a quarterly basis.

FraserCoast, for example, registered a median unit price fall of 15.6% 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 with the previous quarter. For the year ending December its median unit price was steady.

An increase in the preliminary numbers of unit sales was recorded on the FraserCoast, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns during the quarter. With the exception of Cairns, all major regions posted either steady or increased median unit prices for the year ending December 2011.

‘‘What we are starting to see is that as 2011 progressed, so did confidence levels in our property market with prices beginning to strengthen,’’ says REIQ chief executive Anton Kardash. 

‘‘Many regions posted their most robust price results this quarter since prior to the natural disasters at the beginning of last year.

‘‘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.’’

According to reiq.com, there are more than 5,000 listings for Queensland units and townhouses currently for sale under $350,000. 

The numbers of first-home buyers continues to improve in Queensland, with the latest ABS figures showing they now represent about 20% of the market – the highest proportion for more than two years.

The softening of property prices over the past two years, as well as relatively low interest rates, is partially behind this increase in demand from first-time buyers. 

‘‘Thousands of first-home buyers brought their buying decisions forward when the first-home owners’ boost was available in late 2008 and 2009,’’ says Kardash. 

‘‘Their numbers then hit historic lows in 2010 once the boost was no longer available so what we are seeing now is a return to more normal levels of first-home buyer activity, which is very positive for our market.’’

 

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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