Sunday, August 29, 2010

When will Park Get Into Drive?

Mirvac's Park development at the Newstead River Park is currently being sold off the plan, and is due for completion in about June 2012. It is divided into two sections, Park North (which is more expensive) and Park South (which is less expensive.) There are 100 apartments in Park. So far, about 30 apartments have been sold. (See prior Park posts.)

It appears to be a quality but basic development. No pool. No gym. But it is priced too high for investors, and so seems to be aimed at owner occupiers.

In Park South, you can buy a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment on level 5 for $745,000. This apartment is 81sqm internal with a balcony of 15 sqm. The living room and both bedrooms are at the front.

There is also a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment on level 4 for $740,000. This is 93sqm internal, with a 15 sqm balcony. The living room is at the front. Both bedrooms are at the back. It is a floor-through apartment.

The kitchens for these apartments are located on the wall of the living/dining room. So taking out the bathrooms and balcony, these are 3 room apartments.

REIQ Report

"Two years on from the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis, Queensland’s residential property market has ridden the wave of economic uncertainty and come out the other side with prices now back at pre-crisis levels.

However, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s (REIQ) June quarter median house report shows continued tough market conditions with the preliminary number of sales across the state down by about five per cent compared to the previous quarter. Most areas of the state recorded minimal median house price changes over the period."

“Agents have been reporting quieter market conditions since about early April when the string of interest rate increases began to have a negative impact on the market. Uneven economic data is also starting to worry consumers with many buyers currently happy to sit on the fence until a clearer economic picture emerges.”

While sales activity is currently subdued compared to last year, the REIQ June quarter report found property prices in most areas of the state are now on par with what they were two years ago.

“Over the past two years, Queensland’s median house prices have jumped up and down depending on the types of buyers in the market at the time,” REIQ managing director Dan Molloy said.

“Last year, the numbers of first-timers in the market was higher than usual, so correspondingly the median went down given they bought cheaper properties. This year, there has been a return to a more even distribution of first and non-first home buyers in the market so the medians have increased accordingly.

“This change in buyers, and the types of properties selling, has unfortunately given the false impression there has been robust property price growth when prices are now really where they were two years ago.”

Brisbane’s continued population growth has underpinned the capital city’s performance over the past two years with its median house price increasing about 9 per cent to $530,000 for the year ending June 2010.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Some interesting charts from the RP Data report to the ASX, released yesterday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ponzi Borrowers

Extract from The Australian:
"LOCAL property investors have become "Ponzi borrowers" in a market 40 per cent overvalued, according to a Morgan Stanley strategist.

In a bearish note to clients this morning, Morgan Stanley strategist chief strategist Gerard Minack warned Australia's housing "bubble" could be pricked should banks tighten credit or "loss-making" middle-class landlords start to sell.

He argues owner-occupiers are in too much debt and investors are riskily relying on capital gains to repay their loans and interest repayments.

Compounding the problem is "ill-advised policy", such as the government's first home-buyers grant, which has combined to make Australian houses "40 per cent above fair value", Mr Minack says.

"Buying an asset that's over-priced never ends well," he said. "The real return on residential property over the next decade is likely to be negative, in my view."

On the positive side, Mr Minack said the most plausible trigger for a correction in the Australian housing market -- broad-based jobs losses -- doesn't appear likely in the near term. This means big price declines in the near term "seems low".

See The Australian for the full story

Off-the-plan disappointments?

A story from The Australian:
  • Investment properties to flood market
  • Prices set to soften
  • Short-term gains unlikely

"PROPERTY investors are targeting off-the-plan apartments hoping for short-term capital gain, with thousands of prospective pre-sale buyers eyeing Sydney projects.

Ray White is reporting a 6 per cent lift in investor buying as shares weaken and with the end last year of the boosted first-home buyer's grant, The Australian reported.

But analyst Michael Matusik predicts investment properties will flood the market in the near term, leading prices to soften.

An Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report this month said 80 per cent of investors buy for long-term gain, but at least half sell within five years because of cashflow problems or disappointing capital growth. One in four investors sells within 12 months.

Developers in Sydney are reporting strong demand for new residential projects following stamp duty concession by the NSW government this year. ...

Mr Matusik said property prices would not crash, but there would be deflation in values over time.
"In the next decade, we might see very little growth, and if investors keep buying and thinking 'I'm going to make a killing and then move on', they're going to find themselves a little disappointed," he said.

This would be mostly the case in Melbourne, where the market had been strong, he said. In Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide, the trend had already started to occur.

The Australian

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Risks with Off The Plan purchases

There are many risks with purchasing an apartment off-the-plan. These include:
  • the development not actually starting, as some developers commence selling prior to obtaining development approval from the Council and many developers do not have finance prior to selling
  • the development starting late and finishing later than you want (which is not good if you want to move in; but may be good if you are an investor)
  • the development finishing earlier than planned (which is not good if you are not ready to move in, or if you are an investor and planned for a later settlement)
  • the developer going bankrupt or running into financial difficulties during development, and so cutting corners or having another builder take over
  • changes to apartment layout and size, that may be permitted by the contract
  • different quality to what you expected
  • different views to what you expected
  • having no control over the appointment of the onsite manager and caretaker, who could be appointed under a long term contract
  • body corporate fees being low for the first year (to attract purchasers) but then increasing dramatically in year two when the body corporate finds out not enough was budgeted
  • paying too much for the apartment, especially if the market goes down between contract and completion, or if you are buying something "different" and so can't really determine value when you sign the contract
  • not being able to obtain finance when it comes time to settle.
For these and other reasons, the purchase of an off-the-plan apartment should be at lower price than if you bought the same, completed apartment today. You are taking risks, and should get a discount for that risk. Often, however, that is not the case.

There are advantages of buying off-the-plan. You get first pick of apartments, and many of the better designs and locations sell out first. And sometimes the developer does a discount program for the first buyers.

I was reminded of all this by two readers, who sent me emails. One of the emails said:

"Thank you for your blog. You are very positive towards Pradella. I purchased in a Pradella development, and just want to point out a few issues, to give a more balanced viewpoint. First, stage one and stage two of the development are complete. Stages three and four, which can be seen from many of the apartments and the main lobby door, are just one big dirt patch with a low fence. A very ugly view. I have no idea when Pradella will complete the remainder of the development. Second, some features promised for Stage Two have been moved to Stage Three, and are not yet built -- for example, a picnic gazebo. Three, there is no enough visitor parking. This will only get worse when later stages are built. Four, Pradella own the onsite management rights, and the manager is an employee of Pradella. This creates a number of potential conflicts of interest. Five, the onsite manager is pretty hopeless as a rental agent, but Pradella does not seem to care or supervise. Six, there are two body corporates for the development (for each stage), so decision making is harder, especially in relation to defects and issues impacting all owners. Seven, Pradella has not sold all the apartments yet. This is making it difficult for people who want to resell, as they are competing with the developer, and prices have not risen much since settlement. Worse still, Pradella is renting out a number of the apartments, thus competing with the owner/investors in the rental market too. Overall, I am very happy with my purchase, and it is a great development, but I just wanted to point out that the picture is not 100% rosy."

Another reader's email described a situation in a development by Sam Vecchio at Taringa. I will not repeat the email here, as it goes for about 5 pages. It seems that the Vecchio family kept about a third of the apartments for family members and their superannuation funds. So even though the development "sold out", the developer sits on the body corporate and votes down motions. The fact that the developer was keeping apartments was not disclosed to purchasers off-the-plan. For example, it seems that most of the residents want pool furniture, but the Vecchio interests vote against this motion. There are also some issues regarding defects to common property, and failure to do the gardens as set out in the original plans and DA. So the disputes are getting messy, especially because the Vecchios can vote against motions to try to remedy the situation. Vecchio is now developing Rive Apartments near the Breakfast Creek Hotel.

Gold Coast

Although this blog focuses on Brisbane, a number of Brisbane investors also purchase on the Gold Coast. As the Brisbane market is flat, such investors are less likely to purchase on the Gold Coast at present. There are three big developments completing in the next year. First will be The Oracle at Broadbeach, then Hilton at Surfers Paradise, and then Soul. All are completing in two stages.

Here is a nice video showing The Oracle at Broadbeach. (Click here for full size video.)

Here is a link to photos showing Soul and the Hilton project, courtsey of defec8R of SkyscraperCity.

Macrossan and Soleil growing

A nice photo from Chris Hinds showing Macrossan Residents and Soleil growing, with Skyline to the right, and then Admiralty Quays and Admiralty Towers One.

Goodbye, Glitzy Condo Pitches

"...To adjust to a market strikingly different from the high-flying one that reigned when these projects were conceived, developers have not only created new marketing campaigns but also substantially changed the buildings themselves. Focusing less on trendiness and more on value, they have redesigned lobbies, combined apartments to create more family-sized units, and swapped luxuries like private roof cabanas for shared amenities like common roof decks. The changes all seek to appeal to today’s much more skeptical buyer...."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Changes to Lot Entitlements in Queensland

This is edited from an email from Archers. This law, if passed, may impact the value of apartments in buildings where the lot entitlements were recently changed, and where there was a big difference in the initial sales prices of various apartments in the building.

"Now that you are all aware of the Body Corporate and Community Management Amendment Bill 2010 lets spend some time explaining, if passed, what it is going to mean for you.

Open for public consultation until 23rd September 2010 the Bill proposes to outline new concepts and principles for the setting of Contribution Schedule Lot Entitlements (CSLE), along with a provision for lot owners who were disadvantaged by adjustment orders to have the amended CSLE changed back to their original schedule prior to any change. We have provided a brief summary of the main areas of the Bill below but urge anyone who believes they will be affected to review a copy of the Bill at and make a submission to

1. Introduction of the following Principles for deciding CSLE:

  • Equality Principle -The CSLE must be equal except to the extent which it is just and equitable in the circumstances for them not to be equal.
  • Relativity Principle - The CSLE must take into account factors such as the nature, features and characteristics of the lots, the purposes for which the lots are used, how the scheme is structured, the impact the lots may have on the costs of maintaining the common property and the market value of the lots.
  • Unimproved Value Principle - Where the CSLE must be proportionate to the unimproved value of the lots.
  • Market Value Principle - Interest Schedule Lot Entitlements must reflect the respective market values of the lots, except to the extent which is is just and equitable for the lot entitlements not to reflect the respective market values.

2. Adjustment of CSLE

A Body Corporate is still entitled to change its CSLE by passing a Reolution Without Dissent. The notice of meeting must be accompanied by a written document outlining the changes and the reasons for the changes.

An owner is still able to apply to have the CSLE changed either through Specialist Adjudication or the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), however there are restrictions. For an existing scheme, the scheme must have been affected by a material change since the last time the CSLE were decided. For schemes established after the commencement of the Bill, the owner making the application must believe the CSLE are not consistent with the deciding principle.

3. Previous Decisions

The proposed Bill will allow an owner (who must have been an owner at the time an order was made) to submit a motion to the Body Corporate to revert back to the CSLE before any order to change them was made. There will be a three (3) year time limit for an owner to submit such a motion. If the Body Corporate receives a motion from an owner, it must identify the CSLE pre-adjustment and call a general meeting to allow owners to vote, by Resolution Without Dissent, whether to change the CSLE back to what they were pre-adjustment. Special provisions will apply to Lots that have been subdivided or amalgamated.

4. Applications already made

If an application is being heard by a Specialist Adjudictoar or QCAT and a decision has not been made or has not been given effect at the commencement of the Bill, it will cease to have effect when the Bill commences.

Some other relevant changes proposed include:

  • A buyer may terminate a contract if it is entered into but before settlement, a new Community Management Statement (CMS) is recorded and:
    • the seller does not give the buyer a copy of the new CMS within 14 days (or longer if agreed by both parties) after the new CMS is recorded; and
    • the buyer would be materially prejudiced given the extent to which the new CMS was different to the previous CMS; and
    • the buyer gives the seller 14 days notice (or longer if agreed) that they wish to terminate the contract.
  • A buyer may terminate a contract if they are buying from the Original Owner for the Scheme if they reasonably believe that the CSLE are inconsistent with the principle on which they were decided and the buyer would be materially prejudiced if they completed the contract. There is a 90 day time limit to terminate after the buyer (or a person acting for the buyer) receives a copy of the contract."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Pradella has commenced marketing Urban Edge at Kelvin Grove, on Victoria Park Road.

The development will have 3 apartment buildings, with 2 of the buildings being marketed softly at present. The Vista building will be 6 levels with 73 apartments. The Horizons building will be 12 levels with 122 apartments. Building C looks to be the largest. One bedroom apartments with car park at said to be priced from $298,000.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Admiralty Precinct

Colin Walsh from Ray White CBD Residential is mailing out an interesting report of sales in the Admiralty precinct. He calls it his 2010 mid year report.

Summary of report:
Skyline - 10 sales, including Type J two bed average price at $570,000 and Type K three bed at $780,000
Riverplace - average price for Type B two bed reported at $720,000
Admiralty Quays - 3 sales: 1 bed at $590,000; 2 bed at $800,000; 3 bed at $1M.
Admiralty Towers One - 3 sales: including 1 bed at $575,000 and 2 bed at $750,000
Admiralty Towers Two - 7 sales: including 2 bed Type B for $850,000 and three bed Type F for $1,063,800.

Compared with 2009 average prices for comparable apartments, Admiralty One and Admiralty Two are the only buildings where the average price has increased across all apartment types in the first half of 2010.

Tips for Apartment Investors

Domain had a good story with tips for apartment investors.

"Many people invest in apartments because they often have a cheaper buy-in price than houses and are also thought to be a lot easier to maintain without gardens to worry about, and with the costs of building maintenance shared across other owners.

But what makes a good investment unit?

Location, location

You can't get past the fact you need to look for an apartment in a good spot. In the city, walking distance to public transport and shops is a must. Nearby schools can be handy but many renters are single or young, childless couples, so a school nearby is probably going to be third on the list after a train or tram station or a very reliable bus route that is here to stay, and shops, caf├ęs and other services. Buyers agents say you should look for a quiet side street rather than a busy main road.

Many renters are professionals who want to get into the city fast. For that reason, apartments closer to town are recommended over those on the outskirts by many buyers agents who argue they will attract higher capital growth. The downside is they often cost more to buy than units further out.

An apartment in an area where there's high development and plenty of other similar flats around would probably grow in value more slowly than an older unit in a pre-1980s building. That's because at sale time there could be stacks of similar new flats on the market but a well-built, well-located older unit will be a scarcer find."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Infinity Release in September

Infinity near Roma Street to be released in September 2010.

Mirvac's Hamilton Project

Listed real estate group Mirvac is set to continue its successful track record of quality residential development on Brisbane in-fill sites after the purchase of a prime 7,637-square-metre former Department of Primary Industry site at Hamilton.

Previous projects by Mirvac on classic in-fill sites in Brisbane include The Arbour On Grey (at South Bank), Quay West, Grosvenor, Waterline Bulimba, Park Hill Village, Mariner’s Reach, Cutters Landing and more recently Waterfront Newstead.

Mirvac’s Queensland CEO Matthew Wallace says the Hamilton site, located in Hercules Street, is six kilometres from the CBD and will likely accommodate more than 500 residences. Its end value will be around $300 million.

“We are very excited about the purchase of this site and while our planning is still in its initial stages at present we will be delivering a residential product that will broaden the price segments in which we operate,” he says. “The site is extremely well located and the same team that has delivered such projects as Cutters Landing, Tennyson Reach and more recently Waterfront Newstead will be behind the Hamilton development.

“The product will be affordable, it will be quality, it meets the State Government and city council’s planning goals of higher density in the CBD fringe and will be a prime example of contemporary urban design.” Wallace says the Hamilton development is a prime example of Mirvac’s national strategy to continually review and refine its product offering in line with demand and opportunities that arise.


Wallace says the Hamilton development will leverage off the established amenity within the immediate locale and it is proposed that the urban street environment will integrate with the existing Portside development.

The site is adjacent to the Portside Wharf development and cruise ship terminal, is approximately 500 metres to the City Cat, five minutes to the Gateway Motorway and 10 kilometres south of the Brisbane Airport.

The DPI has recently vacated the site.

“We are planning a range of innovative one and two bedroom product on the site and our research indicates that there will be significant demand for this product and this location,” he says.

“Our plan is to provide affordably priced, high-quality residences to a broad section of the marketplace and our team is excited about turning their minds to a new challenge.


Wallace says it is expected that approvals permitting, Mirvac will release the first of the residences at Hamilton next year.


Alice Street Development by Sunland

The developer of the world's tallest residential tower Q1 on the Gold Coast has unveiled plans to build a $250-million luxury apartment tower in Brisbane's CBD. Sunland Group has lodged its proposal for the 44-storey Carrington Tower opposite the Botanical Gardens at 140 Alice Street, after acquiring a small slice of neighbouring land that currently houses a small apartment building.

The tower - said to be encased with a pewter glass wall with a subtle gold tint - will be built on the site of Devine's former French Quarter which was flattened by the global financial crisis in 2008.

Carrington Tower will be Sunland's first foray in the Queensland residential market since the completion of Q1 and Circle on Cavill at Surfers Paradise almost five years ago. Sunland Group managing director Sahba Abedian has hailed the design by Wood/Marsh as the developer's finest piece of architecture to be produced in the company's 27 years.

The facade of Carrington Tower will flow down to create a canopy over the lobby.

"We will be looking to create a very sculptural, iconographic tower that will really mark the entry into Brisbane from the southside of the city.

"It's a curvilinear building that really personifies the feminine form. If you look at the building it actually drapes out at the base that is not dissimilar to a beautiful dress - that's really the intent behind the tower."

Mr Abedian said he was confident Brisbane City Council would approve the tower by mid-2011, as it could potentially have an unprecedented amount of innovative sustainable design features, including solar panels incorporated into the louvres and blinds to capture and reuse energy.

"As we know the Baby Boomers are moving into retirement and lifestyle choices are changing ... and we hope to cater for these individuals," Mr Abedian said.

If approved by the council, Carrington Tower will be one of only a few buildings in Brisbane, including Riparian and The Grosvenor, designed for owner-occupiers. Mr Abedian said Carrington Tower would boast of the facilities of a hotel, including a 24-hour concierge.

"We believe there is strong demand for these environments," he said.

One-bedroom apartments with a study are expected to sell for about $500,000 and sub-penthouses $3 million.

Although Harry Triguboff's twin-tower residential development on Herschell and Adelaide streets is near completion and the abandoned Vision tower site on Mary Street may also be resurrected by developers Billbergia, Mr Abedian said he was confident there was room in the Brisbane market for Carrington Tower.

"We have a strong track record and we also have a very strong client base that I have no doubt will be very excited when we launch this project," Mr Abedian said.

"The testament of our capabilities is the proof of our projects through from Q1 to Circle on Cavill and Palazzo Versace."

Brisbane Times

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Real Estate Photography

It is interesting to see how good photographs improve the image of an apartment. Have a look at the before and after photos on Brisbane photographer's website: