Brisbane apartment market warning should have been three years ago: Terry Ryder

Brisbane apartment market warning should have been three years ago: Terry Ryder
Brisbane apartment market warning should have been three years ago: Terry Ryder

Publicity seekers love a bandwagon, preferably one that’s already travelling at a fair pace so that they can just leap on board and be carried along by the existing momentum.

A popular bandwagon to hitch a ride on is the Brisbane inner-city apartment market. Everyone, it seems, has noticed that something is afoot and wants to be the latest and loudest to issue a “warning”.

But the time to be warning about this was about three years ago. And November 2014 was when Property Observer published my column on this subject, the first of several I’ve written about this issue.

Way back then, this is what I wrote on Property Observer:

There will be repercussions from the over-building of apartments in Brisbane …

In Brisbane, as in Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and other major unit markets, the inspiration for the high level of new building is the Chinese investment market. Everyone is targeting Chinese investors. 

Developers and their marketing stooges dont care about the vacancy rate figures. Thats someone elses problem. If they can flog their apartments to Asian buyers, nothing else needs to be considered. 

The people who will feel the most pain in the future will be the investor buyers. High vacancies will push down rents and the returns they will earn from their investment. That in turn will undermine values. 

Others will suffer. Owners of existing properties in or near the inner-city will also find it hard to tenant their properties and will have to cut rents. Their values will fall also. Home-owners in those areas will be equally affected by falling values.

An investor contacted me recently to tell me that he had just read that column, but only after having signed a contract to buy an off-the-plan apartment in the Brisbane inner-city market. Horrified, and after doing further research, they sought to exit the contract.

The big problem for investors like this is that the industry keeps pumping out propaganda which talks up this market and individual high-rise projects - and lots of media outlets keep publishing it.

Back in November 2014, I wrote:

A media release this week was positively gushing in its eulogy of the Brisbane inner-city apartment market. Sales are surging, it said, and the level of new construction in the pipeline was a cause for celebration. The market, apparently, “continues to shine”.

That kind of dishonest press release material is still muddying the waters. The REIQ has been a particular culprit. If the institute can be believed (generally they can’t), vacancies are acceptable, there are lots of buyers and tenants, and all is well in central Brisbane.

But independent sources disagree. Louis Christopher’s SQM Research has vacancies at 5% or higher in the CBD, Fortitude Valley, New Farm, South Brisbane, West End and Woolloongabba. Kangaroo Point is slightly better off, at 4.4%, but that’s still too high.

The key factor is that the situation will worsen as new projects are completed and their apartments are added to the rental pool.

BIS Oxford Economics is the latest to issue a dire warning. It predicts Brisbane’s median unit price will fall 7% between now and 2020. I would suggest the decline will be greater than that.

Research data published recently shows that owners already are losing money on re-sales – and this is reinforced by median price data from CoreLogic. In the past 12 months, median unit prices have dropped 7% in Fortitude Valley, 8% in South Brisbane and 11% in both West End and Woolloongabba.

Fortitude Valley, South Brisbane and West End all have median prices lower than three years ago.

Long-term growth rates in this market are fairly dismal as well. The average annual growth in median prices over the past decade have been 1.4% per year for the CBD, 1.1% for West End and a little over 2% per year for Kangaroo Point, Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane.

Those rather bleak growth rates will fall further as values continue to decline in the wake of the current over-supply.


Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Apartment Oversupply Brisbane Apartments

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