Engine room drives economic recovery
The property market in Biloela is looking healthy as jobs in the central Queensland town are being created, writes Michael Matusik
DESPITE what many may think, things in much of central Queensland are quite solid.
In some markets, jobs are being created, properties are selling and, in many cases, rental markets are remaining tight.
We continue our look at regional Queensland markets with an overview of Biloela – the largest town in the Banana Shire – and a central Queensland market that is looking healthy.
The Banana Shire, for the uninitiated, is in the Capricorn region of Queensland, inland from Gladstone.
Biloela is its largest town and the administrative centre of the shire.
Some people refer to Biloela as the engine room of the Banana Shire. What helps to give the town a strong foundation is the economic diversity of the region.
Biloela has many pillars of economic growth – the industries of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, retail, education, health and construction all form a part of the area’s economy.
Over the past 12 months, the vacancy rate in Biloela has increased from an extremely tight 1 per cent to 2.8 per cent, which equates to just 29 vacancies.
And while rents fell during 2013, they are starting to increase and the market appears to once again offer value for money. Locals are feeling more confident, with asking prices for houses now starting to rise.
Vendors have lifted their price expectations by up to 5 per cent over the past three months, compared with expecting prices to fall about 10 per cent in 2013.
Sales are taking place, especially for houses priced between $250,000-$350,000.
The amount of stock for resale in Biloela is tight, with just 70 properties actively for resale at present. That’s just a little more than 2 per cent of the private residences in the area.
Job creation and a healthy property market go hand in hand. And in Biloela, jobs are now being created.
Over the past two years, for example, about 2300 new jobs have been created in the Banana Shire, many of which are in or around Biloela.
And average incomes in the town have lifted 31 per cent, well over the Queensland average of 12 per cent over the same timeframe.
Affordability is an issue for central Queensland in general and Biloela is no exception.
The town has a growing population with a largely young demographic profile that will fuel the demand for affordable housing, suitable for first-home buyers and downsizers.
Most of Biloela’s housing demand over the next 10 years will come from young renters (18-29 years) and first-home buyers (30-44 years).
Apartments, townhouses and often smaller allotments don’t suit the big open spaces that characterise inland regional towns.
The challenge will be to provide housing flexibility on traditional sized allotments.