Mackay leads regional Queensland price growth surge: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

Mackay leads regional Queensland price growth surge: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder
Mackay leads regional Queensland price growth surge: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder


The number of growth markets in Regional Queensland is rising, helped by recovery in resources-related regional centres. Mackay is now the most upwardly-mobile market, having overtaken the softening Sunshine Coast market, and Gladstone is now showing signs of recovery, with some of its suburbs rising.

Regional Queensland markets collectively have improved in the past year or so: in the past five quarterly surveys of sales activity by Hotspotting, the number of locations with growing demand has increased from 30 to 36 to 40 to 45 to 48. 

The number of growth markets had decreased sharply in the late 2017 survey but showed steady improvement in 2018 and this has continued into 2019. 

The other key feature is the number of Regional Queensland markets with price growth. We analysed price movements in 313 markets and found 203 (65%) have median prices higher than a year ago. Of the 203 growth markets, 99 have recorded median price growth of 5% or more, while another 104 markets have increased by less than 5%.

Of the higher growth markets, 42 have increased by more than 10%, including 15 which have grown 20% or more. Some of the highest annual growth in median prices has been recorded in mining towns Emerald (up 24%), Clermont (up 33%) and Dysart (24%), but these are rising from a low base after several years of downturn.

A number of unit markets have recorded high growth in the median prices, including Noosa Heads (31%) and Peregian Springs (23%) on the Sunshine Coast; Airlie Beach (26%) in the Whitsundays; Bilinga (26%), Broadbeach Waters (27%) and Coolangatta (25%) on the Gold Coast; and East Toowoomba (29%) in the inland regional city of Toowoomba. 

Other growth markets are Sunshine Coast lifestyle locations Sunshine Beach (40%), Eumundi (23%) and Doonan (21%).

A standout characteristic is the recovery in resources-related markets which have spent the past few years in downturn. This trend is headed by Mackay, which now has rising demand coupled with much lower vacancies, and some suburbs are now showing good price growth.

Emerald, which is located near the mines of the Bowen Basin and the Galilee Basin, is a standout: quarterly sales have been 51, 57, 66, 62, 60, 76 and 78, while the median house price has risen 24% to $310,000 in the past 12 months. The trend here is a prime example of the recovery in the resources-related towns.

There’s further evidence of revival in Gladstone, in addition to the steady reduction in vacancies (now below 3%). In our latest analysis we have classified six Gladstone suburbs as rising markets and three suburbs (Clinton, Kin Kora and West Gladstone) have median house prices higher than a year ago. But the market remains patchy – some suburbs are still classified as decline or danger markets and most suburbs still have median prices lower than a year ago (but it’s significant that most of those suburbs have recorded an uplift in prices in the most recent quarter).

As always, never forget that markets that have strong links to the resources sector are volatile and are prone to major downturns. They’re not good places for risk-averse investors.

The larger, more diversified regional centres of Queensland continue to have steady markets, headed by Cairns and the Fraser Coast. Cairns has seven suburbs with rising sales activity, but prices have yet to react to improved demand – most Cairns suburbs have median prices lower than a year ago, although there are exceptions like Caravonica, Whitfield and Yorkeys Knob.

The Fraser Coast region, centred on Hervey Bay, now has six rising suburbs, like rapidly-improving Urangan. Toogoom, Tinana and Kawungan have all recorded strong price uplift in the past year.

Toowoomba remains a solid market without yet showing any overt growth signs, while Townsville has suffered setbacks from the recent major flooding.

The Sunshine Coast, which for some time has been the strongest of the Queensland markets, no longer has that mantle. It now has few suburbs with rising demand, but many plateau markets –which suggests this market may have passed its peak in terms of demand.

But it’s still producing strong price outcomes. Of the 99 Regional Queensland markets with annual price growth above 5%, 38 are in the Sunshine Coast region – plus another 24 suburbs have growth of less than 5%. Both house and apartment markets in and around Noosa continue to be leading performers on price growth. 

Sunshine Coast markets with annual growth above 10% include the Doonan, Eumundi, Mooloolaba, Maleny, Sunshine Beach, Woombye, Wurtulla, Pomona, Twin Waters and Peregian Beach house markets, as well as the Golden Beach, Noosa Heads, Noosaville, Peregian Springs and Warana unit markets.

As we reported in the previous edition, the post-Games boost predicted by some has not eventuated on the Gold Coast. This market was strong from 2015 to 2017 because of the pre-Commonwealth Games construction boom. 

Since then the growth has subsided and it’s difficult to find any growth suburbs (in terms of sales activity) in Gold Coast City, but 41 suburbs classified as either plateau or consistency markets – plus a couple of decline markets. The price outcomes are also mixed: 57 suburbs have median prices higher than a year ago, but there are 27 with prices lower than last year.

A notable trend on the Gold Coast is that many of the best performers on price growth are apartment markets – but not the iconic beachside enclaves like Surfers Paradise, Main Beach and Broadbeach. The unit markets showing growth are in the inland suburbs like Ashmore, Benowa, Elanora, Helensvale, Pacific Pines and Mudgeeraba – or the beachside suburbs outside the glitter strip, like Bilinga, Coolangatta, Palm Beach and Runaway Bay.

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder Mackay

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