Monday, April 28, 2008

The Residences at The Westin

The Empire Square "The Residences at The Westin" website has gone live.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

AFR - RP Data Brisbane Apartment Survey 2007


Number of Resales

Median Annualised Capital Growth

Median hold period

Riparian Plaza



2.8 years




3.7 years

Admiralty Towers



6 years




2.3 years

Quay West



11.1 years

Festival Towers



3.9 years

Charlotte Towers



2.9 years

Capital Growth is only for apartments that were sold in 2007. The median hold period includes time held from original off-the-plan contract date to sale.

Auction - Ray White Spectacular

Auction - 20 April 2008

112 properties listed for sale, including 26 vacant lots on Russell Island and 6 rural properties.
10 out of 80 residentials sold prior to auction
18 out of 70 sold at auction
21 sold within a week after auction.

According to Ray White, the day proved a good "educational process. .. Buyers are more discerning. ... some vendors are not yet in tune with the slight change in the market."

There were about 10 apartments that went to auction, including one in Skyline and some in Aurora and Festival.

Not so gloomy?

A recent Australian Financial Review article (16 April 2008) has the headline - "Gloom on house prices may be misplaced."

"In Australia, the long-term trend is very much the reverse [of the United States] - not enough housing stock to meet strong underlying demand for housing. This is the trend in both the home purchase and the home rental markets. In the short term, buyers are keeping their powder dry, following aggressive interest rate rises of the past six months. But this temporary stalling will do nothing to deflect the pent-up demand for Australian residential property that has been building over recent years - or the chronic under supply of housing stock that has developed since 2000. ... That said, there is a growing view that interest rates in Australia have now peaked. If this is right, the next leg up in residential property could come sooner than you think."

Market Comments

From the recent RP Data Property Pulse:

For those property owners who are considering selling, it would be a good idea to hold off if possible. There are a lot of properties listed for sale and fewer buyers in the market. Those buyers that are willing and able to purchase now have the luxury of time on their side, which means more negotiation, higher levels of discounting and longer selling times. Selling a property now is likely to result in a less than optimum sale price.

On the flip side, the time to buy may be ripe. We can expect the savvy investor to be on the prowl and owner occupiers who have their finances in order may also be stepping up to the plate. Times like these can be rich pickings for knowledgeable buyers who have the financial clout not to be deterred by further rate rises. These buyers will be making low offers and will be largely inflexible in their negotiations. The primary target will be properties that have been up for sale for more than two months or distressed sales.

Forced sales are likely to show a further increase during 2008. Those mortgage holders who have been holding out for a rate fall will be bitterly disappointed. Instead, they will be looking at steady or rising rates most likely into the next year. Many will be unable to withstand the sustained financial pressures.

Recent Sales Website

The Ray White - Chris Hinds website has recent apartment sales in Brisbane.


Casino Towers, Apt 2301, 2 bed, 2 bath, 2 car = $660,000
Aurora, Apt 289, 2 bed, 1 bath, 1 car = $425,000

Also, building information.

Friday, April 25, 2008

How to Find a Great Apartment to Rent in Brisbane

** Updated post click here **

It is becoming harder to find a good apartment to rent in Brisbane. Not only are rents increasing, but there are few new buildings opening over the next few years and a number of existing buildings are being turned into short stay "hotels".

Good apartments are often snapped up quickly. Also, onsite managers control the majority of apartments for rent in most buildings, and don't often advertise on the usual property websites (as they don't need to do so). Some have their own website. Onsite managers may have a relationship with executive relocation services that are given preference.

You have to find out how each manager advertises his/her vacancy.

If you are looking for a place to rent a good inner city apartment, I believe that this is one of the better sites to look at:

This website has a list of most city apartment buildings, with useful information and links about them. Also, try this customized search engine.

You want to avoid any buildings that are primarily short stay buildings (unless of course you want to stay for 2 nights to 2 months.) So avoid buildings managed by Oaks, as they focus on short term hotel style rentals. Look here if you want a short stay apartment in Brisbane.

There are some cross-over buildings, that are officially hotels but that have apartments on higher floors. Usually, the apartments in these buildings have the option of receiving hotel services. Two examples are Quay West and Saville South Bank, which are good places to live.

Look around -- the rents for some of the newer buildings are much higher, and the apartments are smaller, than in buildings that are five to ten years old.

Some places to look:

In the downtown area:

Admiralty One, is good value:

Admiralty Quays and Admiralty Two are also good quality. At present, I think some of the best value apartments for rent are in Admiralty Two.

Admiralty One (also called Admiralty Towers), Admiralty Two and Admiralty Quays were all developed by the same developer and are direct river front, an easy walk to the downtown. They all have one or more swimming pools.

Next door to Admiralty Quays on the river in the city is River Place , that is clearly not as good quality (it is a Devine built building), but is likely to have availability as this is a large complex. Careful of Storey Bridge noise. Great views. Recently taken over by Mint Apartments, which is doing short stay and hotel rentals.

For an inner city downtown building, Metro 21 is one of the better quality buildings. It has only 4 apartments per floor -- and tries to be more upmarket so is better than most buildings that aim at students -- it seems to have better availability, and some of the two bedroom apartments have three bathrooms. It does not do short stay. The balconies are large:

On Alice Street in the city, if you can get an apartment in Quay West, that is fantastic, as it has park and river views. Half of this building is a hotel managed by Mirvac. All apartments are privately owned. You want to get above level 7.

It is also worth trying some of the off-site agents:

In my opinion, some of the buildings to avoid (see prior posts) are

  • 212 Margaret
  • Festival Towers
  • Charlotte Towers
  • Aurora
  • River City
  • Felix
  • Casino Towers
In SouthBank:

I recommend Arbour on Grey at SouthBank:

Also, Saville at SouthBank is one of the nicest buildings if you get a river facing apartment:

I know people at LeftBank at West End who like living there, but it is a little bit far to walk to any shops -- it is in an industrial area:

In the suburbs:

In the back of Toowong, Encore is a relatively nice complex, with good pricing (but currently construction next door, so take care of which apartment).

St Lucia is harder to find quality -- the quality is there, it is just that there are few onsite managers and it is harder work to find good available apartments.

In Indooroopilly, Riva is the only quality building -- again, some noise in some apartments due to nearby construction. Some have river views.

There are very few vacancies in quality apartments in the suburbs.

Brisbane Apartment Search Engine

Click here for a specialist search engine with information about Brisbane apartments.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Margaret Street Developments

Margaret Street has two new buildings under construction. They will impact:

Meriton's Brisbane

Triguboff still a fan of Brisbane

17 Apr 2008 | The Australian Financial Review | Michelle Singer

"The Sunshine State agrees with Meriton and billionaire boss Harry Triguboff's approach to development..."


This recent story in the AFR states that Meriton's tower on Adelaide Street in Brisbane will have 403 apartments and 200 serviced hotel suites. There will be a 10 level underground carpark. Construction will commence this year.

Meriton's second Brisbane project, the Hercshel Street building, will be up to 90 storeys.

Mirvac's Tennyson

According to the Australian Financial Review, a penthouse apartment in Mirvac's Tennyson Reach development recently sold off-the-plan for $5.25 million. It is 731 sqm. The second stage (92 apartments) is reported to be 25% sold.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Collier's Opinion of Residential Development Market in Brisbane

  • Experiencing differing levels of demand for varying price segments, ie $1m - $1.5m the best, $600K - $900K poor.
  • Projects with long settlements tracking the best.
  • Slow sales for projects with short construction timeframes, are midway through construction or are completed.
  • Supply levels are fine and should continue to reduce as a lot of proposed developments do not get off the ground.
  • Fundamental property drivers other than interest rates are very good and improving however negative sentiment from bad press is severely affecting this.
  • Agent incentives and price rebates / negotiation items are increasing however we see this a short term trend as the major driver of this related to June 30 reporting. Most projects have achieved good sales over the past 24 months and as such are in strong positions. Extended negative reporting and sentiment could however increase these past this date.
  • Development site market has softened with supply levels increasing dramatically in the last two months. However buyers are taken a “sit and watch” approach.

See report from 2008 Residential Market Summit (March 30 & April 1, 2008)

also, see ANZ's report - Housing Supply Shortfall, from the same Summit.

Evolution Reviews

The Evolution Apartment building at North Quay in Brisbane is now complete and people have moved in.

Unfortunately, it is being run as a short term and holiday "hotel". You can book at and stay the night. Or you can spend more than $2 million and buy the penthouse and share your facilities with overnight visitors.

I visited last week, and these are my opinions.


The views from some of the apartments are magnificent, especially from the higher floors and those looking down the river in the South Eastern direction.

The quality of finishes is generally good. Ducted air-conditioning, good kitchens, floor-to-ceiling tiles in bathrooms, plenty of cupboard space in most apartments, good security, nice windows and sliding doors.

Two elevators, both spacious.

I didn't like the car parking -- the driveways were too narrow.

The pool area on level 6 is relatively nice. A big outdoor space, with bbq and good light. An indoor kitchen nearby. Also, a TV room. The gym was very small. When I visited, the pool area (but not the pool itself) was getting a lot of use. A large group having a bbq and another in the TV room.

One feature that the developer highlighted in advertising was the communal sky lounge on level 36. It has a quality kitchen and pool table, plus small TV and lounge area. It is not a large area overall. But, if you wish to use it, you have to pay a $200 fee to the on site manager!

I did not like the noise from the South East Freeway, which could be heard in all apartments that have river views. It is one of the busiest roads in Brisbane, and is directly below the building (between the building and the river). This is a major drawback. Some apartments had double sliding doors, which cut down the noise when closed. Sitting on the balcony was very noisy.

Type A Apartment Two bed, two bath. (84 sqm internal, plus two balconies, with total space of 102 sqm)

Overall, this apartment had a good feel. It seemed larger than 84 sqm internal. The main balcony was a good size - it looks one direction along the South Bank river reach and the other direction along the Coronation Drive river reach.

The apartment has a westerly aspect, which is a negative. The living room / dining room is, however, small. One couch was pushed up against the kitchen bench, and the dining table pushed up against the wall.

There is a large entry and hallway, that includes a good study desk.

The bedrooms are relatively separated. The main bedroom is a good size with a large ensuite. However, it looks west. The second bedroom gets little light, as its aspect is blocked by the main bedroom.

Warning: On most floors, this apartment is blocked by the office building next door -- which is right up along side. This has a major negative impact on the second bedroom, and a negative aspect on the main bedroom. The second bedroom in the apartment that I saw had very minimal natural light and no view at all.

Type B Apartment Two bed, two bath (76 sqm internal and 10 sqm external - total of 86 sqm)

Not a large apartment, and about 5 sqm is hallway. Small kitchen. Small balcony. Bedrooms on each side of living room, and directly off living room (so less privacy). This apartment had a cramped feeling. So small that there was no room for a bath -- two showers but no bath. The views were good, South East down the South Bank river reach. It is best to be above level 15 or so, otherwise the Federal Court on the other side of the road may impact views, but not dramatically. Main bedroom was a good size with good views from large windows. Overall, too tiny.

B type apartment on 11th floor, 115, for sale at $760,000. This is way too expensive in my opinion for this apartment.

Type C Apartment Two bed, one bath (64 sqm internally plus 13 sqm balcony = total of 77 sqm)

There are two types of C type apartments, next door to each other. One is the mirror image of the other.

Surprisingly, I liked this apartment the best.

It is very small. There is no ensuite. There is a shower but no bath. The main bedroom is behind the 2nd bedroom and so has a small window and little light.

However, as soon as you walk in, you see the view. It looks South East down the South Bank river reach. It is a surprisingly good view from higher floors. However, you must be above level 15 or so, otherwise the Federal Court on the other side of the road will impact views dramatically. The balcony is a good shape and size. Not impacted by the Western sun.

Keep in mind that as the office building under construction at 402 George Street grows, these apartments will loose a lot of their city views. But this will not impact the river aspect.

C type apartment on 18th floor, 183, for sale at $650,000.

Type D Apartment One bed, one bath (53 sqm internal and 9 balcony - 62 sqm total)

Very small. Has Western aspect. No river views. Views mostly of Roma Street railway goods yards. No carpark included. Views will be impacted by proposed Meriton Tower on Herschel Street and office building being constructed on George Street. Kitchen is just a wall of cupboards. This apartment has no redeeming features at all.

D type apartment on 11th floor, 111, for sale at $414,000

There are a number of "sub-penthouse apartments" for sale as well. For example, apartment 344 on level 33 is a 2 floor apartment, 2 bedrooms upstairs and living kitchen downstairs. 144 sqm in total, so it is a good size, with a good aspect. However, the balcony is glassed in, so has a strange feeling. But the price -- $1,700,000 for a 2 bedroom apartment !!!

More details on the "sub-penthouse" apartments here.

Overall, this building has some nice apartments and some horrid apartments. It is ok for a short stay, for example, if you had to live here for 3 months. But I would not want to live any longer. The apartments with the good layouts and aspects are too small, and the larger apartments on higher floors are too too expensive. Many apartments have negatives -- too small, western aspect, built up against another building or poor layout. Over time, I suspect that this building will not live up to its promises and will become a place for students or short term stays only. I will avoid Evolution.

Prior posts on Evolution are here.

Skyline Falls

Skyline apartment, which is supposedly an exclusive residential building, is doing short tern and vacation rentals.

See or

Not very good if you spend a million dollars on your apartment and you have the football team staying next door.

And for "hotel" guests, take care. This is not a hotel. The "reception" is open limited hours. Don't try to check in at reception Saturday afternoon or Sunday, and don't try to speak with anyone in management after hours either if something goes wrong in your apartment.

Empire Square - Residences

Floor plan for Westin Residences - Empire Square - at the top end of Elizabeth Street, Brisbane

Off-the-plan marketing techniques

Some interesting articles for developers regarding off the plan marketing. Useful for buyers to read, so you don't get tricked...

These are from the Residential Developer Magazine. (Distribution: For a list of newsagent stockists, click here. For a list of companies receiving the magazine via direct mail, click here.)

South Point at South Bank

Apartments and hotel rooms, at South Bank -- will be developed on the Collins Place site in Grey Street behind the Galleria.


South Bank announcement


News report

Stanley Cove - South Bank

Concepts diagrams of Stanley Cover development at South Bank, which will be located in from of the Park Avenue apartment building, on the river:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Brisbane Apartment Pipeline

Union Development - Milton Railway Station

From the FKP website:

"Union is proposed to incorporate:

  • 30-storey residential building comprising 213 – one, two and three bedroom apartments
  • 127 room, 4.5 star hotel
  • 10-storey office building comprising 13,500 sqm of net lettable floor space
  • Prime podium and street frontage retail
  • Multi-million dollar Milton Railway Station upgrade."

"Views to the river. Views to the city. View to the hills. Bring your worlds into Union.

Unrivalled 360 degree views of Brisbane and beyond will be the focal point of Union’s proposed 30-storey residential building. As a stunning and sleek landmark in Milton, Union will offer a location free from the clutter of neighbouring buildings.

Residential opportunities at Union are proposed to commence from Level 8 and will comprise an array of architecturally sophisticated options, including:

  • proposed terrace apartments overlooking Railway Terrace
  • proposed one bedroom apartments up to Level 22, and a variety of two and three bedroom apartments with a bird eye views of Brisbane up to Level 30.

For those seeking the pinnacle in residential apartment living – a limited number of two storey, three bedroom apartments are also proposed."

Allisee Development

First, Stockland sold its Saville hotel and apartment development to MFS/Stella, who have rebranded Saville as Mantra.

Next, Stockland has had a hard time selling its Koko development on the river at West End. It has reduced prices of the highend stock.

Now, Stockland is abandoning its Allisee development on the Broadwater on the Gold Coast. An advertisement in Thursday's AFR states that Stockland is selling Stage 3 of Allisee in one line -- total area of 8,679sqm over 3 sites. (The advertisement also states that Stage 1 is complete and 80% sold, and Stage 2 is underdevelopment with 30% sold.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Losses at Devine's Festival Towers

As far as I can tell, many early off-the-plan purchasers of apartments at Devine's Festival Towers at 108 Albert Street, Brisbane have made no money (or losses) on resales, particularly if you take into account stamp duty and agents fees.

Some examples:
  • Apt 3601, purchased off-the-plan in April 2004 for $468,000, resold in October 2007 for $495,000
  • Apt 3209, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $491,000, resold in May 2007 for $505,000
  • Apt 3201, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $457,000, resold in July 2007 for $460,800
  • Apt 3109, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $483,000, resold in October 2007 for $475,000
  • Apt 3101, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $455,000, resold in March 2007 for $415,000
  • Apt 3003, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $414,000, resold in October 2007 for $435,000
  • Apt 2903, purchased off-the-plan in October 2003 for $380,000, resold in October 2007 for $418,000.
  • Apt 2902, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $440,000, resold in October 2007 for $485,000
  • Apt 2601, purchased off-the-plan in October 2003 for $441,000, resold in November 2007 for $460,000
  • Apt 2501, purchased off-the-plan in October 2003 for $443,000, resold in February 2007 for $440,000
  • Apt 2403, purchased off-the-plan in November 2003 for $369,000, resold in November 2007 for $435,000
  • Apt 2303, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $365,000, resold in June 2007 for $389,000
  • Apt 2505, purchased off-the-plan in November 2003 for $301,000, resold in April 2007 for $294,500
  • Apt 2404, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $293,000, resold in November 2007 for $323,000
  • Apt 2105, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $296,000, resold in October 2007 for $310,000
  • Apt 2006, purchased off-the-plan in September 2003 for $300,000, resold in October 2007 for $305,000
  • Apt 1706, purchased off-the-plan in October 2003 for $296,000, resold in September 2007 for $305,000
  • Apt 1501, purchased off-the-plan in October 2003 for $407,000, resold in April 2007 for $417,000
  • Apt 608, purchased off-the-plan in February 2004 for $398,000, resold in October 2007 for $410,000
So take care when purchasing off-the-plan. Not everyone makes money. And with M on Mary and the proposed Empire Square blocking views from Festival Towers, it could get worse rather than better over time for some owners.