Gas fires up Su­rat prices

De­mand for hous­ing in the Su­rat Basin is on the rise driven by the coal seam gas boom, writes prop­erty ed­i­tor Michelle Hele

The Courier-Mail - Property - - INFOCUS -

LIKE many of Queens­land’s min­ing re­gions, prop­erty val­ues and rents in the towns that make up the Su­rat Basin have been on the rise in re­cent years.

They have not yet reached the un­af­ford­able heights that towns such as Mo­ran­bah and Dysart, in the north­west of the state, have hit but prop­erty sales num­bers are lift­ing and hand in hand with that has been price growth.

The towns of the Su­rat Basin are within a few hours’ driv­ing dis­tance of Bris­bane and they sit within the cen­tre of Queens­land’s coal seam gas boom.

De­vel­op­ers have al­ready recog­nised de­mand for hous­ing in the area north­west of Toowoomba and in south­ern Queens­land.

The ranks in re­gional towns such as Chin­chilla and Miles are start­ing to swell.

Su­rat Basin Prop­erty Group di­rec­tor Greg West says de­vel­op­ers are try­ing to keep on top of the mar­ket so prices don’t spi­ral out of con­trol.

They have a land­bank to sup­ply 2500 res­i­den­tial lots in the area.

West says the av­er­age price of a stan­dard de­tached house in Chin­chilla, in 2003, was $90,000.

Ac­cord­ing to RP Data, the me­dian house price in Chin­chilla is now $341,000. The me­dian has risen by 47 per cent since 2007 and has grown on av­er­age by 16 per cent a year over 10 years.

West says a 60-lot sub­di­vi­sion started in 1980 took 20 years to wrap up, but from 2005 on­wards hun­dreds of lots were be­ing pro­duced and sold.

‘‘I think the de­mand is cur­rently out­strip­ping sup­ply,’’ he says, ‘‘It is prob­a­bly mostly due to the tim­ing of bring­ing land on.’’

He says as a re­sult rents for a house have risen to about $420 a week and com­pe­ti­tion is grow­ing.

Res­i­den­tial Ten­an­cies Author­ity fig­ures show rents in the town for a three-bed­room home have risen from $280 a week in June 2010 to $365 a week in 2012. Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics fig­ures show the Chin­chilla re­gion has an un­em­ploy­ment rate of just 3.7 per cent.

West says as more work­ers move to the area de­vel­op­ers are try­ing to get on top of the de­mand to keep prop­erty prices and rents un­der con­trol.

‘‘We don’t want to end up with houses for $1 mil­lion and rents of $2000 a week,’’ he says.

West says while the work may be what at­tracts res­i­dents to the towns ini­tially, many are sur­prised at the level of in­fra­struc­ture al­ready there such as hos­pi­tals and schools.

‘‘We are now see­ing the multi­na­tion­als (re­tail­ers) come out here,’’ he says.

While they are at­tract­ing new res­i­dents from around the world, he says pre­dom­i­nantly they ap­pear to be com­ing from Bris­bane, Sun­shine Coast and Gold Coast ar­eas be­cause of the down­turn in con­struc­tion work in those ar­eas.

Prop­erty an­a­lyst Terry Ry­der has named the Su­rat Basin on his list of hotspots in Queens­land.

He says it in­cludes the ar­eas of Dalby, Chin­chilla, Jandowae, Miles, Roma and St Ge­orge.

The hotspots re­port re­leased ear­lier this year says the area is on the cusp of its big­gest eco­nomic and pop­u­la­tion growth in his­tory and re­search has shown it will need at least 5500 new work­ers by 2020.

It says the re­gion ‘‘is com­ing alive’’ with ac­tion con­nected to the new boom re­sources sec­tor – con­ver­sion of coal seam gas to liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas.

The hotspots re­port says some of the towns in the Su­rat Basin ex­pe­ri­enced ex­cep­tional price growth from 2005 to 2007, be­fore sub­sid­ing in 2008.

‘‘There were signs of price growth re­vival in 2009 and in­creas­ing mo­men­tum in 2010 and 2011,’’ it says.

‘‘De­spite the high growth lev­els, the var­i­ous towns in the re­gion re­main quite af­ford­able, most hav­ing me­dian house prices in the $200,000s.

‘‘The smaller towns, like Jandowae and Tara, are cheaper.’’

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