JOLLY GOOD FU­TURE

Prop­erty guru Max Christ­mas says the Coast’s tourism and real es­tate prospects point to a...

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - RYAN KEEN

GOLD Coast prop­erty doyen Max Christ­mas be­lieves the fu­ture of our tourism was “as­sured’’ and the long-term real es­tate out­look “beau­ti­ful’’.

But the for­mer real es­tate agency owner and ex-coun­cil­lor (pic­tured) says the Coast needs to ride out some big short-term risks for even big­ger long-term pay­offs.

Mr Christ­mas, who still has sig­nif­i­cant com­mer­cial prop­erty hold­ings in cen­tral Surfers Par­adise, said his faith in tourism was driven by the Gold Coast Air­port’s on­go­ing ex­pan­sion, big­ger Boe­ing planes com­ing on stream, and data­bases of global ho­tel giants now op­er­at­ing in the city.

“I’ve never seen it (tourism) bet­ter,” he told the Bul­letin, say­ing he ex­pected vis­i­tor num­bers to re­ally surge in two years.

On the prop­erty front, Mr Christ­mas pre­dicts the Coast would ben­e­fit from Syd­ney and Mel­bourne res­i­dents “get­ting out of their dol­drums’’ and re­set­tling here, mak­ing for ex­cit­ing times ahead.

But he said the city’s rep­u­ta­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment was hurt­ing.

GOLD Coast prop­erty doyen Max Christ­mas has de­liv­ered a frank as­sess­ment of the city’s tourism and real es­tate out­look, say­ing there are big short-term risks but even big­ger long-term pay­offs ahead.

The for­mer real es­tate agency big­wig and ex-coun­cil­lor who has spent five decades in the thick of the city prop­erty game be­lieves the fu­ture of our big­gest in­dus­try, tourism, was “as­sured” and the long-term out­look for real es­tate was “beau­ti­ful”.

Mr Christ­mas, who still has sig­nif­i­cant com­mer­cial prop­erty hold­ings in cen­tral Surfers Par­adise, said his faith in tourism was driven by the Gold Coast Air­port’s on­go­ing ex­pan­sion, big­ger Boe­ing planes com­ing on stream, and data­bases of global ho­tel giants now op­er­at­ing in the city.

Lux­ury brands like Mar­riott and gi­ant op­er­a­tor Ac­corHo­tels, which re­cently added Mantra Group’s 22 Gold Coast ho­tels to its 4200 world­wide, would keep driv­ing tourism growth, he said.

“The data­base is gi­gan­tic, big­ger than we have ever seen in this whole coun­try,” he told the Bul­letin, say­ing he ex­pected vis­i­tor num­bers to re­ally surge in two years time.

“These are magic num­bers and the fu­ture is as­sured.

“I’ve never seen (tourism) bet­ter.”

On the prop­erty front Mr Christ­mas said per­son­ally he would be re­tain­ing what he owned but not buy­ing any­thing new for sev­eral years.

“Prices will be fall­ing and are still go­ing to keep failling so why buy some­thing when you know it's go­ing to be less in a year’s time? You just can't get away from what Syd­ney is do­ing, it’s go­ing down and it rubs off.

“Syd­ney and Mel­bourne will take four years to get out of their dol­drums. When they start to get out of their dol­drums, they will re­set­tle up here. So you will have in two years time and four years time a whole new Gold Coast and that is ex­cit­ing,” Mr Christ­mas said.

De­spite the rosy as­sess­ment, he said the city was still shak­ing off a dam­aged rep­u­ta­tion as a place for over­seas in­vestors.

Am­bi­tious high-rise projects on the Gold Coast beach­front not fir­ing would con­tinue to im­pact the city’s rep­u­ta­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment, he said.

“We have a bad image out there in the world. It’s in the bank­ing world ... be­cause 2010 to 2014 we had mort­gagee sales in the bil­lions.”

Asked if it was still count­ing against us, he said: “Of course it is. But who with?

“The Swiss banks, the US banks, the Sin­ga­porean banks and the Chi­nese banks,” Mr Christ­mas said.

“That is the hur­dle we have to get over.

“If we have a fail­ure at Spirit and fail­ure at Jewel, how do we coun­ter­act that? How many years does that put us back?”

The 89-storey Spirit tower de­vel­op­ment in Surfers Par­adise has been qui­etly of­fered for sale to sev­eral prospec­tive buy­ers, the Bul­letin re­vealed two weeks ago. Mean­while, apart­ment sales in the China backed Jewel triple tow­ers stood at 18 per cent, in the lat­est fig­ure from an in­sider.

Over­all, Mr Christ­mas is op­ti­mistic about the city’s fu­ture on all fronts for one rea­son – the con­sis­tent weather.

“The weather is huge. Clean air, wa­ter, no pol­lu­tion,” he said.

Real es­tate pi­o­neer Max Christ­mas says the Gold Coast tourism out­look is a bright as it has ever been.

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