Saturday, April 4, 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on Brisbane Apartment market

Short term impacts of COVID-19
  • Lock-down laws are impacting real estate sales.  Open houses are banned.  
  • Many auctions have been cancelled.    Public and onsite auctions are banned.
  • Apartment buildings have closed their facilities, such as pools and gyms.  Some apartments have elevator restrictions (e.g. no more than 2 people or 1 family in an elevator at the same time.)
  • Some tenants are asking for rent relief, despite a government scheme to assist tenants: See Courier Mail
  • Some tenants are not renewing leases or going month-to-month.
  • Vacation rentals are sitting empty.
  • One property manager has cancelled all leases (probably illegally) - This property manager rents from property owners and then rents out to short term guests.  The landlords' rent has gone to zero.
  • Holiday and short term rental apartments are entering the long term rental market, at discount prices: Courier Mail
  • Some real estate agent's are misleading the market, saying things are good. For example, "there are still buyers out there wanting to buy" (but not saying at low prices), "real estate will become highly sought-after as we move forward", "property is still the safest haven to have your money in", "there are still positive things happening for buyers and landlords".
Longer term impacts of COVID-19

One agent says:

"Like most industries, it is not hard to foresee a coming downturn in the property market.  The closure of businesses, loss of employment, reduced hours, rental defaults plus the myriad of other inter-linked factors will have negative flow on impacts."

In my opinion:
  • Negative gearing will be seen for what it is -- making a loss.  In times of crisis, people understand the risk even more.  Going forward, investors will be less likely to take on the risk of negatively gearing investment properties.  So prices will fall.
  • One bedroom apartments and apartments with no balconies will be less popular.  Owners and tenants will realise living in (and not leaving) such apartments for a long time is not enjoyable. The virus or similar will come back again.
  • Large over-crowded apartment buildings with less elevator capacity will be less popular.  Some buildings have now implemented "two people only" rules for elevators.  Being in a large Meriton building, on level 50, with no balcony, and crowded elevators, with 12 small apartments per floor, does not look appealing.
  • Apartments with balconies and views will be more appealing.
  • Older people are likely to die.  This may create a surge of supply, especially in areas where older people live.
  • There will be less foreign students, and so less renters for city apartments.
  • There will be less foreign buyers.
  • Australian beach resorts will become more popular, helping beach vacation rentals.  International and cruise vacations will become less popular.
  • People are earning less, eating into savings (which were possible deposits), less likely to change jobs or move place of residence and be more risk adverse.  Prices (values) will decrease and stay flat for a while.
  • Off the plan apartment sales will drop off.
  • Renters will choose higher quality apartments over smaller apartments designed for foreign students.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Brisbane Apartment Supply - Undersupplied?

Brisbane is predicted to be the first east coast city to experience an undersupply of apartments, having turned down earlier.  According to experts, Brisbane requires approximately 23,000 additional dwellings per annum to accommodate its growth.
In 2019 construction commenced on 2,100 apartments—a decrease of 3,000 on the 5,100 commencements recorded in 2018 and was the lowest number of commencements since 2010.

Apartment completions in Brisbane have fallen by almost half over the following two years, and in 2020 are on track to record the lowest level of completions since 2013.

One real estate agent's reaction:  The agent said the impending undersupply of apartments signals a likely ‘step up’ in market values for second hand units.  There is excellent value-for-money in the CBD with established apartments in great locations. New and ‘off the plan’ units are already selling for 15-20% more than existing stock.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Luxury Apartment Supply

"The number of three-bedroom luxury apartments to be built in prime suburbs over the next three years is rising in Brisbane" according to the AFR (13 Feb 2020, p 34).

Luxury three bedroom apartments will make up 21% of new apartments built by 2022 "amid growing demand from downsizers and retirees."

Bulimda, Ascot and Hawthorne are areas which will are predicted to get the lion's share of these apartments.

Maybe the demand for 1 bedroom and student accommodation is falling in Brisbane, particularly with the sluggish student demand due to coronavirus.  That makes sense, because small badly designed one bedrooms have a limited market appeal.

I have seen good one bedrooms sold off the plan a few years back now selling for $100,000 less than the off the plan price.  Some developers have unsold stock that they have held for over a year.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Lotus Tower

Chinese developer R&F Property has finished building Lotus Tower at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane.   It was built without any pre-sales.  Unusually, the sales campaign was launched when the building was complete, and it is reported about 30 apartments have been sold.

This is not a river front building.  There are not many facilities within walking distance.

The complex has street side townhouses and 188 apartments over 20 levels.

I have not been inside the complex yet.  R&F is the same developer who built Brisbane 1 Towers at South Brisbane.  This development has three towers (one primarily for short term and hotel rentals).  In my view, the apartments there are small and expensive, of average quality, and have mainly been sold to Chinese investors.  Many appear to be still available for sale.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The One Brisbane

There are many buildings in Brisbane that have "one" in their name.

One of these is The One Residences.  This complex is on the old Courts site and includes in this development the W Hotel and an office building.  It is located on George St in Brisbane, and is above a new shopping mall, Brisbane Quarter, that is mostly empty.  Some restaurants here have already closed down.  There appear to be mostly Asian style restaurants remaining.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Queens Wharf Residences Brisbane

The marketing campaign for Queen's Wharf Residences in Brisbane (part of The Star casino development) has launched, with off-the-plan sales starting soon.  See

This will be a 64 level residential tower.  It is not riverfront, but on George Street.

Before buying, it is worth looking at this Kindle Book:  Buying An Apartment Off The Plan in Queensland

Monday, January 27, 2020

Brisbane Apartments compared with other capital cities

In the AFR on 23 January 2020 (page 3), there is an article titled "Rebound Sends Property to Records".  However, reading carefully, this does not apply to Brisbane apartments.

The graph in the article, sourced from Domain, shows that Brisbane apartment prices have fallen over the past 3 years and are not at a record.  A Brisbane apartment costs the same today as in about 2013.

Moreover, Brisbane apartments are cheaper on average than Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart.

Is there a structural problem in Brisbane?  What is holding back price growth in Brisbane?  Poor quality apartment developments?  Ineffective State and local government?  Lack of infrastructure in inner city areas?  No population growth?  Fewer tourists?

Is it that approximately 40% of the people working in Brisbane work for government or government owned corporations?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Brisbane Apartment Market Update

In the downtown area of Brisbane, there are a few new apartment buildings adding stock to the market.  These include:

  • Mary Lane which is on top of the newly opened Westin Hotel in Mary Street, with many apartments sitting empty (this is the replacement for 111+222 that did not go ahead)
  • 443 Queen Street, on the Brisbane River, which is currently under construction
  • Brisbane SkyTower, which is nearing completion but with the lower floors occupied prior to completion (this is the other part of the replacement for 111+222 that did not go ahead)
  • The One Residents at Brisbane Quarter (which is where the W Hotel is located), currently under construction
  • Spire Apartments on Queen St, but not riverfront, complete but with very few new apartments available for sale

For sales of existing apartments, the trends depend upon the building (quality and location).  Ray White has recently published a report of sales from October 2018 to December 2018.  It shows:

- In some buildings, there have been no sales.  These are good quality buildings, in good locations, with large apartments and fewer apartments.  The owners don't want to sell.  There are less renters and more owner occupiers.  An example is Admiralty Towers Two, at 501 Queen St on the river.

- In some buildings, there are a few sales, and there have been capital gains over the past 10 years.  For example, in this period, a large 1 bedroom in Quay West on Alice St has increased in price from about $390,000 to $525,000.  Riverplace has also done well over the past 10 years.

- In buildings which are in second rate locations, with a poor quality build, there have been no capital gains over the past ten years, and in reality, capital losses.  Buildings by Devine (and the people who did this are now at Metro) are an example.  For example, in Festival Towers, a 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car was selling for about $500,000 ten years ago, and one sold recently for $470,000.  In Charlotte Towers, 1 bed 1 bath no car apartments have been selling consistently in the price range of $300,000 to $330,000 for the past 10 years with no capital gain.  Unilodge (which is really student accommodation) has stayed flat at the $125,000 to $130,000 range for ten years.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fire Sale

"A mass apartment fire sale could be set to swamp Brisbane in the next 12 months — allowing would-be first home buyers to finally get a foot on the property ladder. 
The inner city housing market is in the grip of an apartment glut thanks to a “record boom” in high-density dwelling construction, according to economic forecaster BIS Oxford Economics.
But it means now could be the best time to bag a bargain.
Managing director Robert Mellor is predicting a frenzy of discounting by developers to take hold for at least another year, with prices for remaining stock in some projects to be slashed by at least 10 per cent to 15 per cent."

Saturday, March 3, 2018

No Price Growth for Brisbane Apartments

RP Data CoreLogic have issued their Home Value Index Report for March 2018.

The medium price for apartments has dropped from $400,000 in April 2017 and $389,000 in August 2014 to $383,000.   This price decline does not take into account stamp duty or agents fees.  For example, a person buying an apartment for $400,000 a year ago, really paid $412,000 including stamp duty, and selling it for $380,000 today is only receiving about $368,000 after agents fees.  So the loss is actually $44,000 or about 10% loss.  It appears that the loss is going to increase over the next few years.

I suspect that anyone who purchased an apartment after 2010 would be selling at a significant loss if having to sell today.

CoreLogic head of research, Tim Lawless, said, “The overall softening in the market becomes more evident when looking at the change in values over the past three months.” 

Brisbane apartment prices (to 28 February 2018)
February 2018 - no change
Quarter - down 0.3%
Year to Date - up 0.1%
Year on Year - down 0.6% 
Median value - $383,000

New or resale apartment?

I am often asked whether it is better to buy a new or a resale apartment.  Often, you get better value in a resale apartment.  There are less marketing and agent costs, and the seller does not have to achieve a price to satisfy a bank or investors.  A resale apartment may have an older kitchen or bathroom, but will often be larger.

Before buying a new off the plan apartment, look at what is available today for resale.  For example, this apartment in Admiralty Towers Two, on a high floor, is listed for sale at $749,000.  This is in a good location on Queen Street, near the Marriott Hotel and the Howard Smith Wharf development.   It is direct river front, has excellent views, deducted air-conditioning (not a split system) and is 116 sqm (much larger than most new two bedrooms.)  Currently, it achieves $670 a week rent.

Grim View of Brisbane Apartment Market

Independent property valuer HTW paints a very depressing view of the apartment market in Brisbane.  HTW says that it is a falling market -- prices will decrease.  Many new apartments are being sold for above market prices.  Rental demand is weak.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Beaches have Upside

Apartment values in Noosa and Mooloolaba are on the rise again, driven by Sydney buyers.

These beaches were recently highly rated by TripAdvisor.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Brisbane property prices to improve?

Brisbane is well placed to take over as the best performing capital city housing market over the next five years.  Dwelling values across Australia’s third largest capital city have risen at the annual rate of 1.2% of the past decade; that’s half the pace of inflation and dramatically lower than Sydney or Melbourne where annual gains have averaged 6.3% and 5.9% over the past ten years.

Importantly, there are a variety of economic and demographic factors that are likely to support improving market conditions across Brisbane including economic and demographic trends as well as a worsening performance across the larger cities of Sydney and Melbourne which will provide a lower relative benchmark for Brisbane.

Although Brisbane looks primed to experience an improvement in housing market conditions over coming years, I wouldn’t necessarily expect that the rate of growth in Brisbane will reach the heights of those experienced in Sydney and Melbourne over recent years.


Monday, February 26, 2018

No surprise - Brisbane apartments cheaper than Sydney

Sydney apartments are way more expensive than apartments in Brisbane.

Sydney’s median apartment value currently sits 98.3% higher than Brisbane’s median apartment value, which is the largest premium since late 2002.  The average premium for a Sydney apartment over Brisbane has been recorded at 54.1%.

Does this mean that Brisbane apartment values will rise as a result of this difference?  CoreLogic does not think so:

"We would expect the Sydney premium to reduce over the coming years as values decline however, we also believe that historical premiums for Sydney relative to other capital cities don’t reflect the likely differentials in the cost of housing going forward.  That is to say we expect that the cost of housing in Sydney and Melbourne will continue to be higher relative to other capital cities than it has been in the past."

See CoreLogic Report

Sunday, February 25, 2018

West Village in West End

The West Village development in Boundary St, West End is being heavily marketed at present.

Is this a good place to invest?  I have a number of concerns:
  • The development consists of 11 new apartment buildings, going as high as 22 storeys, with a huge number of new apartments.  It is being developed and sold in stages, with the first two buildings settling at the end of 2018.  If you buy today, not only will you be living near a construction site for years, you will be competing with new apartments as they come online over the next few years.  Hard to resell or rent in this situation.
  • In my opinion, the apartments do not appear to be high quality.  For example, in the two bedroom apartments, the second bedroom is not air-conditioned.  The air-conditioning is not a central system, but a split system with unsightly head ends on the wall.  
  • Most of the bedrooms do not have large windows -- they appear to have one tiny window, and I suspect they will be dark and feel pokey.
  • The bathrooms are small.  (None have a separate bath -- compare Saville Southbank by comparison.)
  • Most bedrooms don't have access to the balcony.  Of itself, this is not an issue, but it makes both the bedroom dark (and for the smaller apartments, the balcony will be dark and alley-like). 
  • The apartment layouts are troubling.  For example, in 1 bedroom apartments, the bathroom is a long way from the bedroom, through the kitchen.  For most two bedroom apartments, the second bedroom is too close to the main bedroom and too far from the bathroom.   
  • The prices are expensive!  For example, a one bedroom apartment is selling for $467,000 on a low floor.  This apartment is 54 sqm internal.   (The balconies are long and skinny, with an air-conditioning compressor on the balcony.  The apartment, especially the kitchen, is likely to be dark.)
  • The 3 bedrooms are being sold for more than $1.6M.  Small two bedroom apartments (only 84 sqm internal) start at $700,000!

    The design is such that you can't even put a sofa in front of the TV!

    It is worth comparing the West Village apartment with a similar recent development nearby, for example, Opera on Cordelia Street that settled about 6 months ago.  A similar size brand new one bedroom in Opera, which I feel is a better quality development is a better location, recently sold for $415,000 on a midlevel floor.  A floor plan for the Opera apartment is below.  When you compare the apartments side by side, you can see that the Opera living room space is bigger, and the design is better.  Opera even has a walk-in wardrobe and a separate laundry, plus more storage cupboards, and an island kitchen bench.  (It is also better quality, for example, deducted air conditioning.)

    So make sure you compare what is currently happening in the market, for existing apartments, before buying in a risky new off-the-plan development.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    Is there an oversupply of apartments in Brisbane?

    "Brisbane’s high-rise apartments have been growing at a rate of 34% to 43% each census since 2001. This year alone, Brisbane has had 9,000 new apartments supplied, which is a massive 200% increase since 2015. As a result, Brisbane currently has a huge supply of new apartments, and is evidently oversupplied in popular inner-city suburbs such as Fortitude Valley, Newstead and West End.

    However, over the past 12 months, there has been a large reduction in apartment building approvals as more developers have become fearful of the current market. At the moment, 38% of projects with development approval have been deferred indefinitely. Larger developers are even opting to land bank and sell existing projects as they fear getting stuck with a partial apartment development. This is now contributing to Brisbane’s stalling apartment price growth in the densely populated suburbs."

    Friday, February 2, 2018

    Vacancy Rate of Brisbane Apartments

    The vacancy rate of inner city Brisbane property has increased to above 4%.  This is regarded as being unhealthy for landlords.  Rents are decreasing - and tenants are asking for rent reductions on renewals.


    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

    Buyers of new apartments in Brisbane sell at a loss

    This blog post, from PropertyUpdate, is worth reading.  Many buyers of off-the-plan apartments paid too much.  But this is old news!  I have been saying that for years on this blog.

    Saturday, July 15, 2017

    Brisbane Off-the-plan resales

    In talking with real estate agents in inner Brisbane, they are telling me (for what it is worth) that:
    • Resale prices of new apartments that the seller purchased off-the-plan a few years ago are often at least 10% to 15% less than the seller paid.
    • Larger apartments targeted at owner-occupiers are selling well, especially in the $1.5M plus price bracket.
    • Interstate migration from Sydney and Melbourne is increasing, and those moving are looking to buy.
    • Apartments targeted at investors are not selling well.
    • There are few Chinese buyers in Brisbane, especially compared with Sydney which is regarded as a safe international city.

    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    Body Corporate Laws - New Report

    The Attorney General Yvette D’Ath has released the Property Law Review Final Recommendations titled Procedural issues under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997.

    Download a full copy of the Property Law Review Final Recommendations – Procedural Issues under the BCCMA:

    Monday, June 19, 2017

    Different Brisbane Trends

    There are different trends for the apartment market in different parts of Brisbane.  For example, West End and The Valley may be oversupplied at present, but there is an undersupply of large quality apartments in the Western Suburbs.

    Place Projects have produced an interesting report, in two parts, that is worth reviewing:

    See Part 1 and Part 2

    From the report:

    "It’s no secret that the Brisbane apartment market has suffered in recent periods. As shown in the graph below, each of the three regions have experienced varying amounts of decline over the past two years.

    Over the past 12 month period, Brisbane’s Inner Ring has experienced the largest decline in median apartment prices, decreasing by 3.5%. This was followed by the Middle Ring, declining by 2.7% over the period, whilst apartment prices in Brisbane’s Outer ring decreased by just 0.7% over the period. 

    The Inner Ring does however, remain to be the most expensive region to purchase an apartment. During the six month period ending December 2016 apartment prices sat at $468,000, compared to $445,000 in the Middle Ring and $380,000 in Brisbane’s Outer Ring. Longer term, the Middle ring has experienced the highest price growth, with median apartment prices increasing by 3.5% per annum over the past ten years, followed by the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring, recording 2.7% and 2.3% price growth per annum respectively over the past ten year period."

    Sunday, June 18, 2017

    REIQ Quarterly Report

    The real estate agent's industry group, REIQ, released a report this week into the Queensland residential property market.  From the REIQ press release, which is always somewhat optimistic:

    "THE house market has rebounded from a period of low listings with a surge of stock, in some markets as much as 100 per cent more in the March quarter, according to the REIQ’s March Quarter Queensland Market Monitor.

    Looking at southeast areas where the market is performing well, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast were the two strongest performing markets in Queensland again this quarter, outperforming Brisbane (as they did last quarter).

    The Sunshine Coast continues to grow and, along with the Gold Coast, these centres formed the top two most popular migration destinations for people moving within Australia in 2016.   More than 12,000 people moved to these two coastal destinations (excluding overseas immigration) last year, according to ABS data.

    Noosa was the top annual median house performer with an annual growth of 9.2 per cent compared with March 2016. This has positioned Noosa as the second-most expensive house market with an annual median sale price of $615,000.

    The unit market over the past 12 months has begun to show signs of easing, with the annual median unit price falling 1.9 per cent to $445,000.  However, that slight easing doesn’t represent the whole story for Brisbane’s unit and townhouse market.

    There are suburbs that have done well this quarter, including Albion (up 5 per cent since December), Bulimba (up 26.8 per cent this quarter), Indooroopilly (up 18.5 per cent), New Farm (up 7.5 per cent), Rochedale (21.1 per cent), Taringa (4.8 per cent) and Toowoong (up 3.2 per cent since December).  [Editor note:  this is likely because of new apartments being sold for the first time, not price increases in existing apartments.]
    Brisbane LGA suburbs where units have done well over 12 months and five years include:
    • ·       Annerley
    • ·       Balmoral
    • ·       Bridgeman Downs
    • ·       Coopers Plains
    • ·       Coorparoo
    • ·       Darra
    • ·       Greenslopes
    • ·       Highgate Hill
    • ·       Manly
    • ·       Manly West
    • ·       Mount Gravatt
    • ·       Norman Park
    • ·       Red Hill
    • ·       Richlands
    • ·       Rochedale
    • ·       Toowong
    • ·       Wakerley
    • ·       Wynnum

    Units are becoming more popular with Queenslanders. CoreLogic has reported that 17 per cent of Queenslanders live in an apartment, just behind New South Wales’ 22 per cent and ahead of Victoria’s 15 per cent.

    “The REIQ is confident the long-term future of apartments is secure and particularly in the inner-city where such exciting projects as Queen’s Wharf and the Howard Smith Wharves are adding to the night-time economy of inner Brisbane.  Added to South Bank, Milton’s Caxton Street and the Barracks, the West End, and Eat Street Markets, this is a diverse and vibrant inner-city and the demand for inner-city apartments will continue to grow over time,” Ms Mercorella from REIQ said.