TAKING IT SLOW
It is not only capital-city agents who are grumbling about dwindling stock
Melbourne and Sydney agents are whingeing about the lack of quality residential stock hitting the market over the Easter holidays, and even the upmarket coastal township of Byron Bay is signalling a disturbing lack of housing supply. However, in Noosa, agent Tom Offermann says there’s plenty of prestige stock available — this despite the fact more Sydney and Melbourne buyers are flooding into southeast Queensland because of cheaper housing prices compared to the cost of real estate in their over-inflated states.
According to Offermann, the head of Noosa’s Tom Offermann Real Estate, the “southerners” have noted a significant rise in property values in their home states and when they arrive in Noosa they note the great value. “Some are choosing to live here rather than in their home-town markets where they perceive the market as plateauing,” he says.
“We have some fabulous properties on offer over Easter such as a three-bedroom apartment in Hastings Park, an exclusive complex of nine apartments directly overlooking Main Beach which will be auctioned on April 9. The last apartment in the building sold for $4.5 million.”
But the situation is different in the arguably more elite and pricier northern NSW township of Byron Bay, further down the east coast.
“Forget what is happening in Sydney or Melbourne,” says Graham Dunn, director of Byron Bay Property Sales, who reckons prices are increasing in Byron Bay because there is a finite supply of housing on the NSW north coast coupled with unlimited demand.
But Melbourne businessman Mark Rowsthorn’s four-bedroom 39 Marine Parade, Wategos beach house remains on the market. Rowsthorn paid $6.5m a few years ago for the house and has rejected several offers since. Dunn says the neighbouring Wategos house just sold for $9.5m so Rowsthorn is unwilling to take less than $8.5m.
But in Sydney, Prue Holcombe of Urbane Property says there’s not a lot of stock on the market in the inner west.
There’s none of the panic buying that was occurring last year when people turned up at auctions to buy after spending just five minutes inspecting the property, Holcombe says.
“You are not getting panic buys, people aren’t throwing money at you. People are back doing due diligence, they don’t have that urge to panic buy,” she adds, noting that most inner-west buyers are locals or empty nesters moving back into the area.
Holcombe is selling 31 Lilydale Street, Marrickville, via auction on April 16 for vendors Jude Kelly and Andrew Cummins. They had expected to spend a lot more time living in their Lilydale Street house, which was completed just 12 months ago. But they have found another house in the inner west that will allow them to have a pool, shed and vegetable garden, and they hope to reap up to $1.8m from Lilydale Street given positive feedback.
“We are selling because we are looking down the track as we get to retirement age,” Kelly says. “My husband wants a bigger yard and a place for the boat. A property came up that fits the bill. We wanted to stay here a lot longer ... But things happen in life. You hear that things are plateauing in the real estate market or are going down, [but] every time I see a property, I don’t see any evidence of that.”
Across the city in the eastern suburbs, Ken Jacobs of Christie’s International says prices are holding in the upper end of the market because of stock shortages.
“There are buyers out there at the trophy end,” Jacobs says. “We are getting strong interest from a variety of sources and the transactions we are doing I won’t say are bullish, but they are at strong prices.
“Most of the buyers are local, but there is still interest from Hong Kong and mainland China — we are getting expats from the UK, and from the US there is some interest but not at the same level as the UK or Asia,” he says.
Jacobs is marketing the Fairfax family property Elaine at 550 New South Head Road, Point Piper, asking in the high $20m for the waterfront blocks recently carved off the estate.
“We have multiple buyers showing interest in the waterfront blocks of Elaine,” he says. “They basically run from road to water and we have people interested in the Elaine house. There are approvals to substantially refurbish it.”
In Melbourne, Ross Savas, joint managing director of Kay and Burton, complains of the market’s sluggishness. “We are in a very strong market due to a lot of local and international investment in the residential market [but] we are in a low turnover market.
“[However] the Australian dollar is relatively low and expats around parts of Asia are really looking at Australia as the promised land. Sydney and Melbourne in particular are their focus. I think the demand is constant but supply is low.”
In Brisbane, prestige agent Gail Havig of Havig & Jackson says there is not a great deal of stock in the higher end.
“We don’t have very many vendors putting their houses on the market,” Havig says. “The market has not wound up for the year but in the higher end, prestige houses seem to be slowly coming on the market.
“After Easter I am expecting there will be more properties coming on the market.”
Brisbane-based CBRE Residential Projects managing director Paul Barratt says 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year.
“2015 was an amazing year for Brisbane, with over 5000 inner-city apartments sold off the plan,” he says. “This is more apartments than the total of those sold over the period 2012 to 2014.”
Barratt says Brisbane has been in a state of chronic undersupply since 2005, which is why investors in inner city properties have done so well during the past decade.
“Population growth for the Brisbane local government area [remains] ahead of dwelling commencements, meaning that even now we are in a state of undersupply and why Brisbane has the highest returns for investors in residential apartments in Australia,” he says. “This is why over 2015 we saw stellar sales results for projects such as Brisbane Skytower, which had over 940 unconditional sales during 2015, and the 100 per cent sellout of projects such as Peak South Brisbane, Pure at Spring Hill and Light & Co Radiance, West End.”
‘In the higher end, prestige houses seem to be slowly coming on the market’ BRISBANE AGENT GAIL HAVIG