Saturday, June 4, 2016

Brisbane apartment oversupply?

Will there be an oversupply of apartments in Brisbane?  In certain geographic areas, and for certain styles of apartments, I think that the answer will be yes.  Some clear reasons for oversupply include:
  • extremely high level of construction of high rise apartments in some areas, many with a large number of small apartments
  • low population growth
  • apartments targeted at investors, not owner occupiers, so a more limited market segment of buyers and renters
  • apartments being constructed in second and third tier areas.
However, I don't think that all the apartments currently "in progress" will actually be built.  This includes apartment projects that have good pre-sales and where "construction has started".  This is because:
  • some developers are unable to obtain the level of finance needed to commence the project
  • construction costs have increased dramatically, especially for union built projects, and so the project is no longer viable, even if the project is sold out
  • simply because the site has been cleared, and some work has started, does not mean the that project is underway -- it may never be built.
  • the number and percentage of presales in a development is often overstated by the developer in advertising and market surveys, and so the developer will not in fact be able to obtain finance at all.
So I think that the level of oversupply may be overstated.  There will still be oversupply, just not as bad as some people are predicting.

There are other risks in the high-rise apartment market:
  • off-the-plan buyers may have trouble settling, because valuations may be lower than contract price, because banks are not lending to offshore buyers, and because banks are requiring a higher cash contribution.
  • rents are likely to fall, which means that valuations will fall
  • some projects are overpriced, and it is likely that after settlement sales prices will be less than  the contract price
  • some constructions companies are in financial difficulties, and so are cutting corners -- the end product many be different, and lower quality, to what is expected by the buyer
  • many buildings are being built close to other buildings, impacting light, view and ventilation
  • foreign buyers may evaporate.
The question in my mind is whether this will impact the high quality buildings in good locations that have large apartments with good aspect?

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