Property price slides in mining towns Gladstone, Moranbah playing out around Australia

Property price slides in mining towns Gladstone, Moranbah playing out around Australia
Property price slides in mining towns Gladstone, Moranbah playing out around Australia

It may be the biggest mistake property investors make: once they have bought something, they stop researching.

There’s a common mentality among real estate consumers that the need to stay informed disappears once you’ve fulfilled your buying criteria.

Prior to purchase, some (not all) will spend some time and/or money on research and advice. But they won’t make the same effort, or any effort, to stay informed beyond acquisition. 

I recently hosted a webinar in which Melbourne buyers’ agent and author Miriam Sandkuhler was the guest presenter. One of the key points she impressed upon her audience was the importance of a regular review of your property portfolio and your overall goals and strategies.

Most Australians don’t do that. Set and forget seems to be the overriding philosophy. And many with that approach get caught in bad situations.

Hotspotting receives a lot of distress calls from investors who bought in locations where property values have fallen subsequently.

Sometimes they’ve bought in locations that were never going to perform. But often they’ve bought in an area that delivers growth initially, until something fundamental changes. That causes a downturn in the market – but investor owners often find out too late.

Queensland boom-bust industrial city Gladstone provides a case study. Five or six years ago, this looked like a good place to invest, with three gas projects worth a combined $60 billion (bringing tens of thousands of jobs) poised to start construction. And, for a couple of years, that promise was borne out by results. Rents and prices rose strongly.

But then big changes occurred in that market. One was that developers had flocked in large numbers to that market and too much new product was being built. The problem was exacerbated by the second fundamental shift, which was the decision by the resources companies to use primarily FIFO workforces with personnel staying in temporary accommodation camps, rather than buying or renting local dwellings.

We wrote extensively about the shift in that market and the likely consequences. The message was: stay out of that market – or, if you already own there, now might be a good time to sell before the market drops.

But many of those who had already bought in Gladstone had tuned out. They no longer had their finger on the pulse. By the time many owners realised the tide had turned against them, it was too late to sell without taking a loss.

Anyone who bought in coal-mining town Moranbah in the early part of the century would have enjoyed a decade of the most spectacular capital growth in Australian history. If they’d sold at any point before 2013, they would have made lots of money.

Then the market turned for reasons that are similar to those for Gladstone, with the added element of the big downturn in coal prices. What followed by the polar opposite of the previous spectacular growth. 

Similar, though less dramatic, scenarios are being played out regularly in markets around Australia. Two or three years ago the middle-market suburbs on Brisbane’s northside were market leaders for sales activity and price growth. Small to medium sized developers saw an opportunity and suddenly these areas are awash with development of new units and townhouses. Vacancies have risen to unacceptable levels in some suburbs. 

If you bought something in that precinct two years ago and then focused on other things, you’re probably not aware of the change in the market.

The message again and again is: you can’t stop the research process just because you’ve filled your current buying criteria. You need to stay up to date. And you need to conduct that regular review of your investment situation suggested by Miriam Sandkuhler.

Terry Ryder is the founder of You can email him or follow him on Twitter.

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Property market Mining Investment

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