Saturday, January 21, 2017

Brisbane Apartments -- What happens next?

Most predictions for the Brisbane apartment market for 2017 are that prices will fall, and that there is going to be an oversupply or glut of apartments.  Well, maybe.

I think there may be a glut of certain kinds of apartments in certain areas.  For example, there are a large number of apartments under construction in Bowen Hills and Newstead.  Many of these apartments are small apartments in large buildings.  Some of the buildings are not in great locations or have poor aspects.  I am not sure who will want to live in these apartments.

But I don't think the news is all grim.  My reasons for saying this:

1.   In certain areas, there is no a glut of apartments.  Or even where a number of new buildings are under construction or have just been completed, the area has many facilities and a good location.  For example, South Brisbane, Indooroopilly and Toowong have new apartment buildings, but these are excellent areas, and can probably hold up to the new stock entering the market.

2.   Existing apartments that are 10 to 20 years only are good value.  Many are large apartments and are located in the better areas, and have good views.  Compared with newer apartments, which are smaller, the older apartments look very price competitive.

3.  There is a shortage of large apartments.  As baby boomers look to downsize, and wealthy families move from Asia to Brisbane, they are looking for apartments that are more than 120 sqm in size.  There are very few apartments in Brisbane that are spacious and luxurious.

4.  Compared with Sydney, or the freestanding house market in Brisbane, prices for apartments have been relatively flat for the past 2 to 4 years.

5.  Rents have decreased for some apartment types, but I think that rents will not keep decreasing.  I suspect that this time next year, we may start to see rent increases for certain apartments.

6.  Not all apartment buildings that have been announced or that are being sold off-the-plan will actually be built.  The potential oversupply is less than anticipated.  (That being said, there are a lot of apartments under construction, and there will be an oversupply.)

One example to consider.  Sunland is building Abian on the corner of Albert Street and Alice Street in Brisbane city.  The apartments were sold off the plan about 2 years ago (it has sold out) and settlement is likely to take place in June and July this year.  It has a great location, overlooking the Botanical Gardens, and will not be built out other than on the rear side.  It is on a corner block.  It is tall, but there are only about 150 apartments in the building.  Most are large.  The quality of the build and finishings are reported to be super.  There are resales available, and it is said that these kinds of prices are being achieved:
  • Two bedroom, 69 sqm - from $680,000
  • Two bedroom, 103 sqm internal- from $1,150,000
  • Two bedroom and study, about 135 sqm internal - from $1,175,000
  • Three bedroom and study, 150 sqm internal - from $1,700,000
  • Three bedroom and media room, 200 sqm internal - from $2,700,000
This does not suggest to me that there is oversupply of this kind of apartment in this location.  (Or do these high prices tell us that a crash is coming?)

On Wednesday, the AFR had an article that said:  "... This year, that courage may well pay off for investors in established apartments.  In Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, owners of these older style 1930s to 1970s built apartments saw little or no return last year and would have enviously watched houses perform substantially better.  This divergence in performance has been due to an oversupply of new units suppressing the entire apartment sector.  But with a slew of recent ABS data showing the apartment building boom is fading, we may well see the first signs of a recovery in older style unit prices and a vindication for remaining faithful to these assets in hard times."

Is now the time to buy established Brisbane apartments?

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