Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fortitude Valley

"On the unit front, Wooloowin, Annerley, Moorooka and Camp Hill all priced under $350,000, are tipped to give good returns next year. The surprise additions of inner-city Fortitude Valley and East Brisbane are also considered affordable areas for unit buyers.

"For people who are priced out of the city itself, these areas are a good option," Mr Kusher said.

"Fortitude Valley in particular has got a really good rental yield at the moment and stock there is quite varied. Overall, rental growth is starting to improve, so for those people who have perhaps lost money in shares, more investors will be attracted back to property."

See Brisbane Times

Predictions for 2009

At the beginning of 2008, I made a number of predictions in this post.

The predictions were mostly wrong!

The Brisbane apartment market did not grow significantly in 2008, and took a minor step backwards. At present, there are fewer buyers and more sellers. For some off-the-plan developments, no sales have been made for months. Second tier buildings and buildings with more than 200 apartments have not done well.

So I will be careful with my predictions for 2009:

I still believe that quality inner city apartments in Brisbane will do well in 2009. Provided there is no significant unemployment and provided that foreign students continue to come to Brisbane, vacancy rates will remain low.

In 2008, only four new inner city apartment buildings completed and settled. These were Evolution (over priced), M on Mary (which has mostly 1 bedroom apartments, and the developer is now in liquidation), Flow at West End and Iceworks at Paddington. In 2009, no new large inner city apartments will settle. Groundwork has started on Mertion's Soleil and the Trilogy Tower project, but these will no complete until 2012. Mirvac's Tennyson Reach project will settle two buildings in 2009, and FKP's SL8 at West End will also probably complete in 2009. So not much new stock.

So here are some predictions for 2009:

• The price of a good quality 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment in Brisbane, with views, will range from $780,000 to $850,000.
• The price of an average quality 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment in Brisbane will struggle to pass $550,000.
• Average rent for an unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment will rise to $600 per week.
• Investors will return to the market, as interest rates are falling and rents are rising.
• There will be more action in the inner suburbs than in the city. Prices for quality apartments in areas such as Indooroopilly and Toowong (where there is a train station and regional shopping, close to education facilities) will boom. By the end on 2008, it will be hard to find a good quality 2 bedroom apartment in these areas for less than $600,000.

• The Gold Coast apartment market will tank even more. The Sunshine Coast apartment market will remain steady.

Meriton's 43 Herschel Street


Here is a floor layout, as submitted to council by Meriton. It shows 10 apartments per floor, with a mix of studios, 1 beds and one 2 bedroom apartment. The apartments have no balcony, and are small. The 1 bed hotel suites in Trilogy Towers are larger than the 1 bedroom apartments in this proposed building.

More photos and images here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stockland Downgrades Residential Portfolio by $105M

"He said two factors in the past two months had prompted the downgrade of its residential inventory.

He said there had been a "massive downturn" in the top end of the residential market.

Secondly, the company had made a "conscious decision" to sell some high-end projects outright at a discount to their carrying value.

Mr Quinn said: "The first home buyers are well and truly back because it is now cheaper to buy than to rent."

Stockland had started to reconfigure some high-end projects to create more affordable products.

"Traditionally, 20-25 per cent of our market is first home buyers. They now represent 45 per cent of our total buyer profile." He said sales had picked up nationwide."

See The Australian

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

West End Overpriced?

What would you pay for a new 2 bedroom apartment at the southern end of West End, with nice views of a factory roof, surrounded by industrial buildings, walking distance to nothing, an irregular bus a few times a day, brown carpets and "a minimalist look"? How about $579,000 in Ferry Road, West End? That just seems extremely high to me. Buyers beware!

Rate Increases For Brisbane Apartments

"A ceiling on rate increases for Brisbane's CBD unit owners under Brisbane City Council's controversial new rates policy will be debated at today's last council meeting for 2008.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman promised to introduce the policy from the third quarter of the 2008-09 financial year, which starts on January 1.

The scheme was proposed at June's Brisbane City Council budget and - suggested lifting the general rate paid by unit owners so they pay an equivalent rate to home owners in a property of the same value."

Brisbane Times

Time to Buy

According to the NY Times: See New York Times for this interesting story.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meriton on Herschel Street




Meriton has applied to build a second apartment building in Brisbane. It is located at 43 Herschel Street, Brisbane, near Roma Street Station. It is 73 stories, with over 400 apartments, and a basement 10 floors underground parking.

Gold Coast Not Golden

I am always surprised to read commentary about Gold Coast apartments which is so positive -- when the market is very dead, nothing is selling, and prices are falling for what is selling. For apartments that are holiday rentals, most owners will receive low returns, not enough to cover outgoings. Yet, agents still talk the market up. Here is a more realistic story:

Not all Doom & Gloom

"THE economics of Australia's $3.3 trillion housing market is widely misunderstood, with sensationalist claims that a housing bubble caused the global credit crisis and that Australian house prices will fall by 30 per cent to 50 per cent. In fact, the latest RP Data-Rismark Index results show that Australian house prices declined by just 0.8 per cent in the 12 months to October this year, and increased during the most recent three months.
...

In Australia, the hyperbolic predictions of economists Steve Keen and Gerard Minack that house prices will fall by 30 per cent to 50 per cent have been relentlessly recycled in newspapers and purportedly credible programs such as 60 Minutes and The 7.30 Report.

The doomsayers' claims are based on the assumption that housing affordability is at an all-time low.

They dismiss the fact house prices are determined by supply as well as demand (affordability is a demand-side factor) and conclude that prices must fall by some arbitrarily large margin. Keen likes to shock by quotingstatistics about the rise in household debt without acknowledging that debt-servicing ratios have remained unchanged thanks to vastly lower real interest rates, the emergence of two-income households and higher real incomes.

Recent analysis by the Reserve Bank of Australia has comprehensively demonstrated that housing affordability is not at an all-time low. According to one of the Reserve Bank's benchmarks, the representative household in June 2007 had more real disposable income left over after purchasing a home and servicing a 90per cent mortgage than at any other time since June 1982.

The bank also found that the representative household could afford to buy 33 per cent of all homes in June 2007, which, although less than the historical average of 45 per cent, was markedly better than the 13 per cent of homes available to it in June 1990.

Importantly, the Reserve Bank's present 4.25 per cent cash rate is considerably lower than the 6.25 per cent rate that existed in June 2007. Since mortgage rates peaked at 9.6 per cent in August, the Reserve Bank has pushed them down to about 6.7 per cent, with markets predicting that they will be less than 5 per cent by mid-2009. At the same time, house prices have not appreciated...."

"The Reserve Bank believes Australia's housing market is leading the US by three years, having entered into its downturn in 2004. There is also a consensus between the Reserve Bank and most economists that the doomsayers' predictions will be proven wrong. A striking counterfactual is the 1990-92 recession, when unemployment hit 10.9 per cent yet house prices rose by 2 per cent a year according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The media would do well to interrogate sensationalism."

Source: The Australian

Water's Edge Update

Monday, December 1, 2008

October 2008 Property Index

"Claims that the Australian property market would in 2008 experience a major downturn have been proven incorrect based on the most recent findings of the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Property Value Index, which in October again showed that Australian capital city property prices had increased for the second consecutive month. ...

Based on RP Data-Rismark Index results, RP Data head of research Tim Lawless believes that the doom and gloom merchants have misunderstood the fundamentals and the diversity of the Australian residential property market by predicting that Australia was headed for a market-wide implosion in 2008.

“The facts are that over the past 12 months Australian property values have declined by just 0.8 percent which is a phenomenal result when compared to the S&P/ASX 200 index which reported a decline of 40.5 percent,” Mr Lawless said. “The October RP Data-Rismark Index results reinforce my suggestion that the Australian property market has moved through the bottom of its cycle.” ...

For savvy investors the timing to enter the market is now better than ever according to RP Data’s Tim Lawless – “For investors who are willing to go against the flow, buying conditions are exceptionally strong and yields are improving every month,” he said.

“The fundamentals underlying the Australian property market are extremely robust. Investors need to take into account current supply constraints, infrastructure delivery, immigration, vacancy rates, rising rents and expectations that interest rates will continue to fall. These are the basics that should fuel capital gains for investors.”

Melbourne, Brisbane & Sydney
In the 10 months to October 2008, Melbourne residential values have been flat (+0.2 percent) while Brisbane (-1.7 percent) and Sydney (-1.9 percent) are off slightly. However, during August, September and October 2008 Melbourne (+1.1 percent) and Sydney (+0.5 percent) property values have increased consistent with the overall market recovery following the Q2 contractions.

See Press Release and Details

Value of Brisbane Car Park?

A car park in down town Brisbane appear to add about $60,000 to the value of an apartment. A two bedroom apartment without a car park is virtually unsaleable.
FindACarPark is a good site to look at to see the rental value of a car park in Brisbane - seems to be about $400 to $500 per month to rent. When I looked, no car park was listed for sale in Brisbane.
See also this site.

Brisbane In Summer

www.brisbaneinsummer.com.au

Friday, November 28, 2008

What My Bank Manager Told Me This Week

  • Investors are re-entering the Brisbane property market
  • There are bargains in Brisbane property
  • Rents are good, and increasing
  • Interest rates are low, and decreasing
  • Investors are getting more than 5% gross returns on recently purchased Brisbane apartments

Hamilton Harbour - 4 Buildings Proposed


New website for Hamilton Harbour residential building, called Harbour One. It is behind the Bretts Wharf development, on Kingsford Smith Drive.

"A 19-storey tower and 22-storey tower will house a total of 416 apartments, and the developers have already committed to selling a percentage of residences in the low-to-medium price range.

The budget apartments will be "space-efficient" while other one-bedroom offerings will come without a car space.

"This will enable these units to be offered for sale at a considerably lesser price to those who would otherwise be unable to afford housing in such a well-serviced location," the project plan details."

Brisbane Times

View from the air

Gold Coast vs Brisbane

"The apartment market on the Gold Coast is more problematic because conditions there are still very tight and after Sydney, the Gold Coast is more dependent than any other city on the apartment market," he said. "Investors have been fleeing that market and combined with a decrease in buyer confidence, apartment prices may continue to come down."

Mr Anderson predicts unit prices will stabilise in the first half of 2009 before again beginning to rise.

"We are expecting to see growth again in the apartment market but it won't happen until 2010, it will take longer than the housing market, and probably not as quickly as in Brisbane," he said. "There could be a really strong rebound in that market in the first half of 2010 but it will be coming off a fairly low base."

Source: GoldCoast.com.au website

Amother Apartment Complex near Milton Brewery

"A $19 million highrise near Milton's Fourex brewery has won council approval, but new residents are warned complaints will fall on deaf ears. The development on Railway Terrace consists of a 20-storey unit block and an eight-storey retail and commercial building."

See Courier Mail and Skyscraper Life

Admiralty Towers Two - Blog

Have a look at this Blog: http://atowers2.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 24, 2008

Indooroopilly Riverbend Tower

Riverbend Tower was supposed to be an all rental building. However, it appears that the developer has now decided to sell some of the apartments.

Example pricing:

  • 2 bed, 2 bath, 6th floor, 95 sqm internal, 31 sqm balcony, 126 sqm total, 1 carpark = $600,000
  • 3 bed, 2 bath, 5th floor, 125 sqm internal, 36 sqm balcont, 161 sqm total, 2 carparks = $735,000
Some apartments will have river views. However, the eastern facing apartments look over the railway station at Indooroopilly (so noise from trains and cars), the southern facing apartments look at the Walter Taylor Bridge, and the western facing apartments will get the western sun.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What is in store for Brisbane Apartments?

"Matusik notes Brisbane respondents are more optimistic than property professionals on the Gold and Sunshine coasts. In turn, Gold Coasters are more bullish about a recovery in 2009 than those on the Sunshine Coast, where about half of the respondents think sales will continue to fall in the new year. Matusik says about 30 per cent of those surveyed think an inner-city pad in Brisbane will be the best residential investment."

The Australian, 22 November 2008

"Paul Braddick, head of property and financial system research at the ANZ Banking Group, says: “There is certainly a problem with sentiment and with construction finance at the moment. But for property investors I would instead focus on rising rents, the lower interest rate environment, the subsequent improvement in affordability and the increase in the first-home buyer’s grants. These all point to a brighter future for residential property, even if the next six to 12 months prove slow.”

I believe a halt in the construction of new apartment towers is a sign that it’s time for the wise investor to start researching the market and getting to know it thoroughly. First-class investment properties are available at a fair price, but there’s only a minuscule chance they will be in multi-level city buildings."

Smart Company, 20 November 2008

"If you want a swimming pool now, buy a unit in Queen Street. If you live in the outer suburbs, houses don't often have room for swimming pools," Professor Hall said.

Courier Mail, 17 November 2008

"Brisbane's CBD recorded 17 new apartment sales during the quarter, from a possible 178 units on the market.

"In terms of rental vacancies for residential apartments, inner-city Brisbane retained the lowest vacancy rate of only 1.4 per cent," Mr Walker said. "This suggests that rental rates will continue to rise as demand for accommodation increases and rental stock supply dwindles."

Brisbane Times, 19 November 2008

M on Mary in liquidation

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brisbane Apartment Videos

Meriton's Soleil

Trilogy

Festival Towers

Charlotte Towers

Please Take Me To Brisbane

Brisbane

Sherwood Parklands


I have previously written about Pradella's development "Parklands at Sherwood" which is high on a hilltop overlooking parks and Oxley Creek, with city views in the distance. See prior comment.

I visited again this week. Apartment Building 1 (AP1, marketed as Jacaranda) is almost complete. The bottom floor is at lockup stage, and the top floor apartments are being tiled. Looks like about 2 to 3 months work until completion. Apartment Building 2 (AP2, marketed as Brookline) now has a roof. The bottom floor has internal walls, the top floor has frames for internal walls. Probably 6 months more work till completion. There are also terrace house and detached houses.

I am very impressed with the apartments. Even the smaller two bedroom apartments seem large. Maybe this is because at least half the apartments have great park views. The design and outlook is good. I am less impressed by the detached houses -- they are in the worst location in the development, and the rooms seem smaller than I would have liked.

There are some resales already listed:

  • smaller 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, study nook, 2 cars, top floor, park & city views - listed at $530,000
  • smaller 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, study nook, 2 cars, top floor, village green views- listed at $520,000
  • 3 bedroom townhouse - listed at $798,000
Some of the developer stock in AP1, at the rear of the building, is discounted. For example, a 2 bedroom apartment for sale in the mid $400,000s. There is good buying to be had, and this development will impress when complete.

Gabba Central Apartments Bowled Out

"Gabba Central's 270 luxury apartments, retail space and 300 underground carparks were slow to sell and value plunged as a result of Brisbane's stagnant property market and the global credit crunch."
"The Brisbane property is now in the hands of financiers UCIS, which is responsible for selling the remaining space at Gabba Central for market rate in order to recover the $31 million.

If the sales fail to cover the total debt, PKW is liable to hand over up to $10 million in cash or assets. Potentially this will involve Taranaki land and buildings held by the dairy giant."

Full story is here.

My view was that this was a poor property.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Building Classifications

How will this impact Oaks, and apartment owners who are doing short term rentals in buildings that are not designed for short term rentals:
http://www.dip.qld.gov.au/resources/newsletter/newsflash-327-guideline.pdf

Low Ball Skyline

Skyline is selling new 3 bedroom apartments for $650,000. This is less than some of the two bedroom prices in Skyline. These apartments were recently marketed for $720,000 plus. They are nice city apartments, but will be crowded out by Meriton's Soleil and Macrossan towers.

South Point and Buranda

"ARCHITECT-developer Tony John is willing to bet $1 billion that the run-down suburb of Buranda, in Brisbane's inner south, will be the next New Farm.Mr John has a scheme for a massive residential, retail and commercial project that can only be called immensely ambitious.

He is willing to bet that Brisbane people will be willing to pay about $500,000 for an entry-level one-bedroom apartment measuring less than than 50sq m. Big enough to swing a cat - just. He's willing to bet that they will want to live right next to the truck-laden Logan Rd, over a train line and right next to a busway in a suburb that looks like it has had too much sun and has never been known for urban chic. He's also betting that the housing affordability dilemma will mean people will question if they can afford a home and a car.

But just to show how strongly he feels about Buranda, the man who developed the oh-so-swish Emporium development in Fortitude Valley says he is less confident about his separate plans for 56 luxury apartments at South Bank projected to cost between $2 million and $10 million each. "I would not like to make that call right now," he said...."
See Courier Mail

Friday, November 7, 2008

Skyline Price Decreases

Skyline is selling new 3 bedroom apartments for $650,000. This is less than some of the two bedroom prices in Skyline. These apartments were recently marketed for $720,000 plus. They are nice city apartments, but will be crowded out by Meriton's Soleil and Macrossan towers.

Howard Smith Wharf redevelopment


The Council has issued a plan for urban renewal in the wharf area under the Story Bridge. It looks like an excellent plan, and my guess is that it will increase the value of the apartments in the Admiralty precinct. It is called the Howard Smith Wharves redevelopment.

Details here and here.


Waters Edge on the Edge

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recovery?

See story in SMH.

Water's Edge at West End Update

A friend forwarded an email to me, recently received from Pradella, that included the following:

"Pradella have adjusted the pricing of some of the apartments in ‘Reach’ at Waters Edge. We have now sold 50 apartments, but we need to keep moving toward our pre sales targets, hence the pricing adjustments. The 1 beds have not been adjusted, but some of the 2 bed plus 1 bath, and 2 bed plus 2 bath have, and there are some very good buys to be had."

My guess is that no construction will commence until there are about 100 pre-sales.

Trilogy or Soleil?

With Empire Square and Vision both gone, it seems that the only two large inner city high rise on the horizon are Trilogy Tower and Meriton's Soleil. Both are similar heights, in a similar location, and are apartments without balconies. Both will have hotel / serviced apartments. Both will complete about the same time. I hear that some people who were initially interested in Trilogy are now interested in Soleil. They are different products. Soleil is cheaper on a price per sqm basis, and probably a different level of quality.

Trilogy (Mirvac managed hotel apartments) (residential apartments not yet on sale so not part of this comparision)

  • 16 apartments per floor, over 12 levels. 192 apartments in total
  • 3 elevators
  • 1 and 2 bedroom configurations
  • sold furnished, if one signs up with Mirvac
  • 6% rental guarantee
  • on sale for more than 3 months
  • about 60 to 70 reported as sold
  • one bedroom size - 53 to 59 sqm, most without car parking
  • two bedroom size - 70 to 89 sqm, with 1 car park
Example pricing for 1 bedroom:
Level 35, East view - $530,000
Level 41, East view - $555,000
Level 41, River view - $570,000
2 bedrooms:
Level 35, river view
- $890,000
Level 37, corner apartment, NE river view - $945,000
Level 37,
corner apartment, SE river view - $940,000

Soleil - residential apartments

  • 5 to 7 apartments per floor. 188 apartments on sale, with others being held by developer
  • 3 elevators
  • 1, 2 and 3 bedroom configurations
  • sold unfurnished
  • rental guarantee
  • on sale for about 10 days
  • less than 10 sold
  • one bedroom size - 46 to 62 sqm, without car parking
  • two bedroom size - 71 to 83 sqm, with 1 car park
2 bedroom apartments
Level 31, city view over Adelaide Street: $509,000
Level 40, views over All Hallows: $615,000
Level 42, views towards The Valley: $610,000
Level 42: views of River Place, and maybe Storey Bridge: $672,000
Level 47: views over Skyline towards the river: $755,000

No More Vision

"PLANS for Brisbane's tallest tower appear to be crumbling with builders told [Friday] the contract for works on the Vision tower had been suspended. Builder Grocon told workers at the Mary St site yesterday that the main works contract had been suspended by the developer, Austcorp. Last week an Austcorp spokes-man said the $950 million, 287m Vision was a live project and it would be Built. Austcorp head Trevor Chappell was overseas yesterday and un-able to be contacted to confirm the suspension" Source: Courier Mail.

"A company spokesman insisted Vision would be built when market conditions improved, but industry sources have told brisbanetimes.com.au completion is unlikely. One senior development figure said the project's future had been uncertain for some time and claimed there had long been doubt surrounding Austcorp's ability to secure credit.

While the developer continued to tout apartment sales figures up until last month, it is understood several multimillion dollar conditional contracts had collapsed."

in liquidation: M on Mary

"RECEIVERS & MANAGERS APPOINTED IN LIQUIDATION. BRAND NEW APARTMENTS. INVEST TODAY FROM JUST $295,000 IN THE HEART OF BRISBANE, AUSTRALIAS MOST EXCITING AND LIVEABLE CITY. PLUS A RENTAL GUARANTEE OF 6.5% GROSS (avg) MANGEMENTS FEES INCLUDED."

It appears that a Gold Coast company has been appointed to off load what remains for sale in M on Mary serviced (non residential) apartments. This building has 1 bedroom apartments, with some 3 bedroom apartments on higher floors. About 400 apartments in total, with over 100 reported as unsold. A very poor pool area. Most don't have car parks. Small apartments. Avoid!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Which Buildings Have More Owner Residents?

The Brisbane City Council has released a list (in relation to rate increases) that includes the number of owner occupied apartments in Brisbane apartment buildings. The full list is here. My view is that the higher number of owner occupiers in a building, the better the investment in that building.
Community Title Scheme Name Number of Units Number of Owner-occupied Units Percentage Owner Occupied
ADMIRALTY QUAYS 173 59 34%
ADMIRALTY TOWERS 151 49 32%
ADMIRALTY TOWERS II 193 71 37%
ALLEGRO APARTMENTS 117 16 14%
CASINO TOWERS 214 34 16%
CENTREPOINT 51 20 39%
CHARLOTTE TOWERS 415 29 7%
CORONATION RESIDENCES 48 22 46%
CUTTERS LANDING - CUNNINGHAM 33 14 42%
CUTTERS LANDING - FLINDERS 84 53 63%
FELIX 254 48 19%
FESTIVAL TOWERS 401 51 13%
KOKO APARTMENTS 110 36 33%
LEXICON APARTMENTS 89 16 18%
OXYGEN 191 34 18%
PARK AVENUE AT SOUTH BANK 56 32 57%
PARKLAND BOULEVARD 400 168 42%
PRECINCT TOOWONG 46 19 41%
QUAY WEST BRISBANE 136 28 21%
QUEEN STREET 570 127 9 7%
REGATTA APARTMENTS 59 17 29%
RIPARIAN PLAZA APARTMENTS 48 23 48%
RIVER PLACE APARTMENTS 314 76 24%
SKYLINE APARTMENTS 185 37 20%
THE AURORA TOWER 472 128 27%
THE GARDENS 107 23 21%
TRILOGY RESIDENCES 121 8 7%
WILLAHRA TOWER 106 16 15%

Prices Still Increasing

From RP Data's Property Pulse:
"Brisbane
Across the 12 months to August 2008, Brisbane’s median house value has increased by $21,915 although, the level of vendor discounting has also increased by 3.64%. Given this, vendors who sold in August 2008 would be $6,328 better off than if they sold at the same time last year. Brisbane’s median unit value rose by $11,966 across the year to August 2008, meanwhile an increase in the level of vendor discounting of 3.09% has meant that a Brisbane vendor selling at the median unit value would have been $2,410 better off selling this year as opposed to selling at the median value last year"

Vision Suspended

"PLANS for Brisbane's tallest tower appear to be crumbling with builders told yesterday the contract for works on the Vision tower had been suspended. Builder Grocon told workers at the Mary St site yesterday that the main works contract had been suspended by the developer, Austcorp. Last week an Austcorp spokes-man said the $950 million, 287m Vision was a live project and it would be Built. Austcorp head Trevor Chappell was overseas yesterday and un-able to be contacted to confirm the suspension" Source: Courier Mail.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rates Ripoff in Brisbane

CITY Hall will drag five times the amount of general rates out of Kelvin Grove Urban Village this financial year.
Information released by Brisbane City Council after a question with notice shows some inner city buildings will collectively pour 400 per cent more in general rates in to the city’s coffers than last year, with Kelvin Grove Urban Village facing the biggest rise. The Village’s 213 unit owners paid a total $83,411 in general rates to council in the previous financial year, the information shows. But this will jump to $443,750 for the 2008/09 financial year after changes are introduced in January, designed to increase rates for some of the city’s most expensive inner city apartments. The changes, which take effect in January, will lift the general rate for the average unit owner in the Village from $392 last financial year to about $2100 for this financial year. But just a fraction of those living in the Village are owner-occupiers, meaning all but 23 units are owned by investors.
Other addresses to be hard hit by the new ``parity scheme’’ include the Parkland Boulevard building in Brisbane’s CBD, which will collectively pay 364 per cent more in general rates than last year, increasing the building’s total contribution to $753,000. The building contains 168 owner occupied units and 232 investment units.
Council will collect 300 per cent more in general rates for the year from Riverplace Apartments in Brisbane, where 76 of the building’s 314 units are owner occupied.
Owners of units in Admiralty Towers II in Queen Street will fork out 310 per cent more than last financial year.
Riverscape West unit owners in MacDonald St, Kangaroo Point, face an increase of 150 per cent over last financial year.
The information shows just under 1000 owners of units in 116 inner-city apartment blocks will together boost council’s kitty by $6.3 million this financial year under the changes, representing a 127 per cent overall increase for the addresses.
Central ward Councillor David Hinchliffe (Labor) said the changes would take a toll on residents of Kelvin Grove’s Urban Village, which he said was ``not the most salubrious address.’’ Cr Hinchliffe said the impact on unit owners would be about an 800 per cent increase from one quarter’s rates bill to the next.
But council Finance chairman Adrian Schrinner said the information put to rest once and for all claims people were facing 1000 per cent rises in their rates bills. He reiterated a previous commitment to issue letters to unit owners showing the individual increases they face ahead of the January changes.
See City News

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Soleil Tower Sales Launched Today


Meriton's Soleil, its first building in Brisbane, launches this weekend. (Completion of the building is planned for 2011 or 2012.)

It will be 74 levels, and 234 metres high, located at the end of Adelaide Street, behind Skyline and next door to Macrossan (which is under construction).

Floors 31 to 64 contain the apartments that Meriton will sell. Floors 65 to 74, comprising 42 apartments, are not for sale. Floors 30 and below will probably be 175 serviced apartments, owned and managed by Meriton. A total of 188 apartments will go on sale this weekend. They are 1 to 3 bedroom apartments. The 2 and 3 bed apartments have 2 bathrooms, and an underground carpark (up to 10 levels below Adelaide Street level).

On the higher floors (above level 41), there are five apartments per floor. There are 3 elevators for about 220 apartments, which is not a great ratio. (Admiralty Two, just nearby, has 191 apartments and six elevators.)

None of the apartments have balconies. Airconditioned, full length windows, and floor to ceiling tiles in the bathroom. Indoor pool and gym.

Here are some example two bed, two bath apartments:

Apartment 6001, level 60, views south down the Brisbane River over the top of Skyline, 79 sqm and 1 car park. Listed for sale at $823,000, which is about $10,400 a sqm.

Apartment 4205, level 42, limited views between Admiralty Quays and River Place, but good views over All Hallows, 83 sqm and 1 car park. Listed for sale at $672,000, which is just over $8,000 per sqm.

Apartment 5204, level 52, views over Admiralty Quays, 78 sqm and 1 carpark. Listed for sale at $688,000, which is just over $8,800 a sqm.

Compare existing, older stock of 2 and 3 bedroom apartments nearby:

From what I can tell, the current actual sales price for direct riverfront apartments in the city is between $6000 and $7000 a sqm.

Overall, Soleil is in a great location, the floor plans seem to be well designed, and Meriton will deliver. Care should be taken when selecting, as some apartments will not have great views due to neighbouring buildings -- but some apartments should have great views (if you like heights!). The apartments are a little small for my liking, and I am not sure about lack of balconey.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

M on Mary - bank takes over?

I heard that the developer of M on Mary has gone into bankruptcy or receivership. There are a number of apartments that remain to be sold. Unfortunately, I have no other details at this time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Meriton Soleil Pricing

Apartments for Sale

Size
Parking
Priced from
Floorplans
1 Bedroom
$348,000

2 Bedroom
1 Car space
$503,000

2 Bedroom + Study
1 Car space
$587,000

3 Bedroom
1 Car space
$876,000

Prices as at 21 October 2008.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ray White Sunday Auction Results

Meriton Soleil to be Released Soon


"Thank you for your email enquiry regarding our brand new 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments soon to be on sale. Selling off the plan the development is expected to be completed 2011/2012. We will be selling this development at the end of October or early November at our Display Centre at 488 Queen Street, Brisbane."

United States House Prices Far from Bottom

"One reliable proxy of housing values — the ratio of home prices to rents — indicates that in many cities prices are still too high relative to historical norms. In Miami, for instance, home prices are about 22 times annual rents, according to analysis by Moody’s Economy.com. The average figure for the last 20 years is just 15 times annual rents. The difference between those two numbers suggests that a home valued at $500,000 today might be worth only $341,000 based on the long-term relationship between prices and rents."

NY Times

No More NorthBank

The Premier axed the NorthBank development on the edge of the Brisbane CBD.

See Sunday Mail - it was front page news.

People in Casino Towers and the west side of Quay West are happy no doubt.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Doubtful Vision

Riverpoint Update

Riverpoint reports that it has reconfigured some of their apartment layouts:

"... we are about to release a whole new range of designs, in response to public demand. They incorporate a range of 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments, 3 bedrooms apartments and Sub Penthouses. These stunning new designs will be released to the Brisbane Property Market on Saturday the 25th of October."

"The new Super Penthouse will be built over floors 7 and 8 of Mosaic [note: this is not a direct riverfront building] and will raise the level of riverfront living to unexpected heights, in this rapidly evolving prestige location. The Super Penthouse will be spread over 700m² of exceptional living. It will also incorporate a 70m² ballroom/entertaining space on the 7th floor, complete with its own private lift to level 8 – The Owners Enclave."

West End Unit Owners are Concerned

"WEST END: Riverside apartment dwellers are banding together in a bid to give their direction on the future shape of the community. More than 30 residents from the Flow, Koko, Leftbank and Tempo complexes have met to discuss the need to build a sense of community in the area. Regatta Apartments body corporate chairman Paul Rees said they hoped to build a liveable community, not only for apartment dwellers but the whole of West End.

“We’re planning a series of regular events to build community in our area and the first event will be a breakfast in Riverside Park on Sunday, December 7 at 9am,” Mr Rees said.

He said they invited local, state and federal representatives as well as community groups and property developers to attend the breakfast to hear their ideas. Among residents’ concerns are building heights, closing Riverside Drive to public traffic and fast-tracking plans for a CityCat terminal. And Mr Rees said residents felt they were not consulted about increasing building heights.

“We are appalled at the suggestions of 15, 20 and 30-storey highrises being built here,” he said.

“We moved into this area believing the height limit would be seven storeys and we don’t want to see our area turned into a concrete jungle,” Mr Rees said.

He said a CityCat terminal and a reliable bus service on Montague Rd were important to give residents adequate public transport. Mr Rees said they supported redevelopment of the old riverside industrial areas as long as it was on a “human scale” and integrated with the established community of West End, “rather than creating a concrete barrier between West End and the river”."

See City South News

River City and Oaks - Again!

I saw this on a bulletin board:

"Remember the controversy of kicking all those tenants out of Charlotte Towers??? Well... guess what... its happening again, but with River City.

The Oaks has send letters to all of their tenants telling them that they must leave because their apartments will be turned into short term accom... BUT... and thats a big but because the Oaks as NOT INFORMED any of the owners that they are kicking out tenants so that they can convince owners that they could get more money from short term accommodation."

See this post.

I would be careful and do a complete due diligence before buying in an apartment in a building managed by Oaks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Predictions and Guesses

A lot of people seem to think that it is the end of the world as far as property investment is concerned. These are my thoughts.

Facts:

  • Interest rates are going down
  • There is low unemployment in Queensland
  • There are few vacant rental properties, and rents are still increasing in Brisbane
  • According to REIQ and RP Data, medium prices have fallen less than 3% in the past 6 months, and over the past year prices have still increased
  • Property is still selling. For example, a three bedroom apartment is Admiralty One sold in less than a week. At auctions in Mooloolaba this weekend, which has been a tough market, there were 2 two bedroom apartments that had bids of more than $1 million: Oceans 503 had a highest bid of $1,200,000; and Sirocco 604 had a highest bid of $1M.
  • Banks are still lending money, but they have tighter lending requirements
  • For most of Brisbane, there are very few delinquencies.
  • In outlying areas (such as Forest Lakes and Springfield) and low quality bulk highrise marketed to investors (e.g., Charlotte Towers, and other recent Devine buildings), there are distressed sellers who are selling for less than they paid.

Assumptions:

  • Matusik, who is a very bullish property consultant, has the following assumptions in most of his presentations, but I am not sure how many of them will turn out to be correct (and some from his September 2008 presentation are already wrong):
    • interest rates to drop by 0.5% in fiscal 2009
    • $A remains high – above 85 US cents
    • migration to oz remains high US economy has a mild recession, mild recovery in 2009
    • demand for our resources continues
    • share market settles down unemployment remains below 5% and wages growth remains constrained
Opinion and Predictions (Guesses?)
  • Property in inner Brisbane will take longer to sell than over the past 3 years (e.g., time on market will return to a more normal period of time, from 15 days to 30 or 40 days).
  • Prices for poor quality apartments will fall by 25%
  • Prices for apartments that have their views destroyed (e.g., Charlotte Towers, 212 Margaret, River City, and some in South Brisbane) will fall by 25%
  • Prices for apartments without carparks will fall
  • Some new apartments for off-the-plan developments) are priced too high for what they are, and will have difficulties selling in the short term (e.g. Waters Edge, Empire Square, Vision)
  • Anything priced over $6,000 per sqm will struggle to sell, unless it is really special
  • Off the plan developments will not sell well until completion -- in uncertain times, people do not want to make bets on the future, especially where the product being sold is intangible -- people want to touch and feel in uncertain times.
  • Really good stuff will sell, and will not reduce in price by more than 5% (if at all)
  • In February 2009, the market will pick up, but will not have growth of more than 10% per year for at least two years
  • Due to lack of building today, things will get better for investors in good locations in the short term
  • This year, my property portfolio looks better than may stock portfolio.

Future Brisbane Apartment Developments

Useful Websites About Brisbane Apartments

When I am looking for information about Brisbane apartments under construction, I find useful information on the following two websites:

Chermside

I have never been excited about Chermside. However, here are some links to Chermside apartment buildings:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Soleil Tower Website

Fall of an Empire

The Empire Square project on Elizabeth Street in Brisbane, which was to include a Westin Hotel, has been scrapped.

"Developer Metacorp is today in the process of advising investors it will not proceed with the development because it has lost financial backing, sources have told brisbanetimes.com.au. The empty retail stores on the site of the planned development have been readvertised for lease."

It was reported that a large number of the 100 apartments had sold off the plan. The minimum price was $1.3M for a 2 bed apartment.

See Brisbane Times.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

August Property Value Index

RP Data Rismark Index for August

"The national end of month property indices report released by RP Data & Rismark International confirms that the supply and demand imbalance currently being experienced in the Australian property market has placed a floor under housing prices, resulting in minimal value falls.

Based on the analysis in the report, this is most evident in the metropolitan areas around the country where record population growth has not been accompanied by new dwellings to satisfy the housing demand.

According to RP Data National Research Director Tim Lawless the property market has proven to be remarkably resilient with national dwelling values remaining positive over the 12 months ending August 2008. Over the three months to August 2008 there was a modest decline with property values down by just 0.96 per cent over this period.

Mr Lawless said the recent figures should put to rest claims that Australia’s property market is headed for a crash. “In fact, values are holding relatively firm particularly when compared to the benchmark equities S&P/ASX 200 Index which dropped by 19 per cent between January and August,” he said.

One of the most interesting findings in the indices release today was the convergence of the capital city market dynamics over the past six months which revealed that all capital cities recorded slightly negative growth; no particular city was significantly out of step with the others.

According to Rismark International’s Dr Mathew Hardman “Clearly, the observable phenomenon of the two-tiered markets in Sydney and then in Melbourne and to a lesser extent in Brisbane and Perth has disappeared ”

“Market movements are now similar across all metro areas rather than value falls being isolated within the mortgage belts. This balancing can be attributed to the squeeze the more affluent markets are experiencing due to the turbulence in the financial and equities sector.

“Looking towards the next six months, strong excess demand in most capital cities is creating a floor under property values, making large falls unlikely,” Dr Hardman said. According to RP Data, with population growth projected to remain high and interest rates falling, the demand/supply imbalance is expected to protect the market from any major falls in property values. Rismark International’s Dr Hardman believes that unemployment is not a major factor driving property prices; affordability, excess demand and market momentum are far more significant he said.

“Although unemployment is rising, unless it grows rapidly to significantly greater levels, eg 6 or 7 per cent over the next couple of years, excess demand will eventually outweigh affordability constraints and begin to push property markets upwards again, probably by the second half of 2009.”

Brisbane

  • Brisbane has actually fallen more than Sydney & Melbourne over autumn & winter: on average by 3 – 5 per cent. The median house value is now $455,146 and the median unit value is now $326,606.
    South East Queensland continues to be the strongest population growth region in Australia. Such strong demand for dwellings will continue to place upwards pressure on values over the medium to long term.

See http://www.rpdata.com/news/rp/20081001_media.html

Water's Edge at West End - Traffic Concerns

Brisbane apartment project dismisses transport concerns

The company behind a new apartment complex in Brisbane's West End says it does not think the project will worsen local traffic flow. The old box cardboard factory near the Brisbane River will be replaced by 220 apartments. There will be two eight-storey towers built on the site.

Ross Higgins from Pradella Developments says it should attract more transport infrastructure to the area.

"West End's undergoing a major infrastructure redevelopment from a traffic point of view now," he said.

"And really what we're doing is replacing a lot of people that were working in the area anyway.

"I don't believe it'll have a negative effect on transport in fact I think that it'll bring more transport infrastructure to the area."

Source: ABC News

In fact, there are plans for more than two buildings on the site -- with two or three buildings planned for the other side of Duncan Street as well, as shown on the map on the project website.

See also Brisbane Times

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brisbane Association for Rates Equity

There is now an association of apartment owners that is fighting the Brisbane rate increases for apartments. It is called Brisbane Association for Rates Equity, or BARE.

See www.brisbaneratesrort.com
and
http://brisbaneratesrort.blogspot.com/


Buranda High Rise Development

See Brisbane Times

"Thousands of new residents, workers and shoppers could soon flood the inner-city suburb of Buranda if a large-scale urban village, featuring buildings up to 32 storeys high, is approved by Brisbane City Council. The Anthony John Group (AJG) this week lodged an application to transform a parcel of former industrial land on Logan Road, south of the city, into a mega-development. Dubbed Buranda Village, the site would be home to eight buildings comprising residential apartments, office space, a hotel, a cinema complex and sprawling retail outlets."

I was not impressed by Anthony Johns Group's apartment development in the Valley, the Emporium -- built between two main roads, the apartments either look at a car park or a main road. Small apartments and noisy. My guess is that this will be much of the same

Monday, September 29, 2008

Parklands at Sherwood Residential Development

I recently visited the Parklands at Sherwood development, by Pradella. It is currently under construction, with stage one completion planned for this year.

When complete, the development will have 239 residential dwellings - a mixture of houses, townhouses and apartments. They all share a pool, gym and resident's meeting room. For this post, I will focus on the apartments.

Stage One consists of 28 apartments, over two floors. There is a mixture of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. Half the apartments face the park, and half face the town houses.

Stage Two consists of 54 apartments, over three floors. Again, a mixture of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. Half the apartments face the park, and half face the "village green".

All apartments have air conditioning, and elevator access to 2 car park spaces in the basement.

The sizes of the apartments are typical. For example:

  • larger: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 study nook = 91 internal and 30 external = 121 sqm
  • medium: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 study room = 88 internal and 22 external = 110 sqm
  • smaller: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms = 83 internal and 14 external = 97 sqm
The larger apartment listed above is an end apartment, and so has good light from two sides. The living area has over 5 metres of glass sliding doors. The ensuite has both a bath and shower. There is a separate laundry. The bedrooms are well separated, and the second bedroom is near the bathroom.

For the medium apartment listed above, both bedrooms have views. The bedrooms are well separated, and the second bedroom is near the bathroom. The ensuite has both a bath and a shower. The separate study room is a real room (but with no windows) -- it is large enough to be a nursery, guest bedroom or media room.

The best thing about the development are the views from the parkside apartments. You just see green parklands for miles. The apartments are built on a hill, facing north and north east. They are up high, so even the lower floor has views. There is park immediately in front, then Oxley Creek, the Brisbane River and Indooroopilly Golf course. From the second floor apartments you can see city buildings -- I could see the clock on the Suncorp building. Great aspect, views and breezes. I really had low expectations, but was blown away by the views. And they can never be built out.

This development will be unique in the Sherwood / Graceville / Chemler area. It is well located, near the Sherwood State School, and walking distance to Woolworths in the Sherwood village, and the railway station at Sherwood. Here is a link to an area map.

In stages one and two, most of the 2 bedroom parkview apartments have sold. There are no one bedrooms that have park views. All of the 3 bedrooms have parkviews, and most of these have not sold. Price ranges are below, and when compared to FKP's development at Albion, these prices look like bargains for what you are getting:

1 bedoom apartment 2 bedroom apartment 3 bedroom apartment
$399,000 - $439,000AUD $560,000 - $609,000AUD $735,000 - $789,000AUD

SouthPoint Residences at SouthBank

Here is an interesting drawing, showing the proposed building at Southbank, with the existing Collins Place building left standing.

Southpointresidences

Landmark Byte Brisbane Residential Report

"After recording the strongest growth and activity for the last five years during 2007, the Brisbane residential market like other markets across the country has entered a period of softening. Although key fundamentals of the market including limited housing stock and land supply, record low unemployment and continued growth in population remain solid, other factors such as affordability, high interest rates, declining consumer sentiment and volatility in equities and credit markets have produced a greater impact on the overall market."

"LandMark White expects the Brisbane residential market could fall by up to a further 5% in the next six to twelve months. We anticipate the landing will be quite soft across most market sectors due to the strong fundamentals in the Brisbane market including population growth, under supply of housing and a strong rental market however there is a risk the market may get worse rather than better. This appears to be very much dependent upon overseas issues and a slowing global economy. In the medium term, the only prospect of a change in the market is for the Reserve Bank to soften interest rates further. This now seems more possible however there is a perception that as interest rates fall further, the price growth seen over 2007 will return. This optimism may prove to be unfounded with buyers more likely being more aware of the negative implications of such a price growth cycle and issues of affordability."

See full report.