Apartments under construction in inner Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt.Source:News Corp Australia
THOUSANDS of homes are lying empty in Brisbane’s most desirable neighbourhoods amid a chronic apartment oversupply.
NEARLY 20 per cent of the apartments in inner Brisbane are sitting empty and more than 50 projects have been shelved or ditched altogether as landlords struggle to survive the city’s oversupply crisis.
More than 10,000 new apartments have been abandoned or deferred by developers in the past 12 months amid waning investor demand, rising construction costs and lending restrictions, according to a new report by economic forecaster BIS Oxford Economics.
The building frenzy in the heart of Brisbane has been well publicised, with a rise in off-the-plan sales since 2013 allowing a greater number of projects to reach sufficient precommitment levels to begin construction.
But record levels of apartment completions have tipped the market into oversupply, putting pressure on rents and prices and resulting in a growing number of “ghost houses”, according to the Inner Brisbane Apartments 2018-2025 Market Brief.
There are signs things are improving though, with the latest CoreLogic Home Value Index revealing the fall in unit prices in Brisbane slowed by 0.6 per cent in the past month.
Unoccupied dwellings comprised 17 per cent of total apartment stock across inner Brisbane on the night of the 2016 Census, according to the report.
That’s up from 11 per cent on the night of the 2011 Census.
BIS Oxford Economics senior manager of residential property Angie Zigomanis said many unoccupied apartments were kept as second homes or speculative investments, but a number were also empty because landlords simply couldn’t find a tenant for them.
“They’ll always be competing against the latest and greatest new stock, so they’ll need to offer incentives to make their properties more attractive,” he said.
This financial year, BIS Oxford Economics estimates about 8,300 apartments will be completed in the inner Brisbane area — a new record annual rate of apartment completions.
West End, Brisbane CBD and the Inner North areas are likely to see the highest number of apartments come to market, followed by Toowong and Woolloongabba.
“Coupled with restrictions on interest only loans (a mainstay of investors) and the Queensland government introducing a stamp duty surcharge for overseas investors, we expect to see significantly fewer projects being able to achieve the pre-sales requirements for projects to commence.
“Sharply rising construction costs have also meant that developer’s margins have been eroded, impacting the next round of projects, particularly if there is a slump in prices making planned projects no longer viable.”
The vacancy rate for the inner Brisbane area climbed to 4 per cent in the December quarter of 2017.
Queensland’s 100,000-property public housing shortfall revealed
Queensland has a severe shortage of social and affordable housing, an issue that is projected to get worse by 2036 according to new research.
More than 102,000 additional social houses are currently needed across the state, and 54,700 affordable houses are also needed with nearly 13 per cent of Queenslanders spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.
By 2036, Queensland is projected to need 254,300 more social and affordable houses – the second-highest unmet need behind NSW, the report found.
The new figures come from a UNSW City Futures Research Centre report on social housing shortfall across Australia.
Regional social housing shortfalls are higher than in Brisbane, the data shows, but Brisbane residents are slightly more likely to be spending more of their income on rent.
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said housing affordability was a “big issue” for Queensland.
“Through the Palaszczuk government’s $1.8 billion Queensland Housing Strategy, Labor is driving key reforms and targeted investment across the housing continuum,” he said.
“The Strategy commits us to build more than 1000 affordable homes for Queenslanders, as well as a further 4522 new social homes to help ensure everyone has a safe, secure and stable place to live.”
Lead researcher Laurence Troy said 22.5 per cent of Australia’s entire housing growth must go to social housing to meet demand into the future.
“Our analysis shows that the sheer number of households in rental stress across the country means that if we’re going to meet the need, at least 12 per cent of all our housing by 2036 will need to be social and affordable housing – which is a very reasonable ambition in global terms,” Mr Troy said.
“To cover the backlog of unmet need and future need in Australia two in 10 new homes will need to be for social housing over the next 20 years, and a further one in ten for below-market affordable rental housing.”
Mr Troy said the research’s financial modelling found the “best and cheapest way” for governments to meet the need for social housing was to fund it through upfront grants and low-interest government financing.
“Delivering below market rental housing through the not-for-profit sector, as opposed to the private equity model, will save $3 billion a year by removing developer mark-ups and shareholder returns,” he said.
The financial modelling was commissioned by the NSW community housing sector.
Mr de Brenni said the state government was “listening” through its recent public consultation on rental reform and was committed to investing in affordable housing in partnership with community housing, to provide more subsidied homes for low income earners.
“We heard Queenslanders are struggling to afford rental properties in the suburbs close to where they work,” he said.
“Through our Build-to-Rent pilot project, we are seeking to work with the private sector to increase the number of long-term, affordable rental properties for low to moderate income earners, including key workers in health, early childhood and hospitality.
“Internationally, the Build-to-Rent model is delivering fantastic outcomes and facilities for tenants and we’re looking to see what the market is open to delivering here.
“The pilot, if it proceeds, will see $70 million invested towards delivery of hundreds of affordable rental properties for key workers in inner-city areas where affordability has been identified.”
Mr de Brenni said the registrations of interest for that pilot had seen strong market interest, and the department was considering the responses before calling for expressions of interest.
Treasury: Negative Gearing Reforms Will Have ‘Little to No Effect’ on House Prices
Federal Treasury has delivered a serious rebuke to the Coalition for exaggerating the impact of Labor’s negative gearing and capital gains changes.
In emails released under freedom of information, acting treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer requested the department fact check the Coalition’s claims that Labor’s policies would cause house prices to fall.
In response, Treasury issued a correction: “The [s]tatement is not consistent with our advice.”
“We did not say that the proposed policies ‘will’ reduce house prices,” the email reads.
“We said that they ‘could’ put downward pressure on house prices in the short-term depending on what else was going on in the market at the time.
“But in the long-term they were unlikely to have much impact.”
Labor has jumped on the release, with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen saying that the government had been “caught red-handed” misrepresenting Treasury’s advice.
For his part, treasurer Josh Frydenberg denied that the government was misrepresenting Treasury, pointing to the Financial Review’s take on the release that changes “could” put downward pressure on house prices in the short term.
Frydenberg quoted building industry group the Masters Builders Association figures.
“If Labor’s policy is in place you’ll see 32,000 fewer jobs and 42,000 fewer homes being built.”
House prices hit spending
It has been a difficult week in economic policy, with GDP figures released on Wednesday revealing that the economy has slowed significantly, entering a “per capita recession” for the first time in 13 years.
Retail trade figures for the March quarter were also sluggish, with falling house prices impacting wealth and spending.
RBA governor Philip Lowe highlighted the link between the two at the AFR annual business summit on Wednesday.
“The evidence is that a tightening in credit supply has contributed to the slowdown in credit growth,” Lowe said.
“The main story, though, is one of reduced demand for credit, rather than reduced supply.
“When housing prices are falling, investors are less likely to enter the market and to borrow. So too are owner-occupiers for a while.”
Queensland to rank among best state markets in 2019
Queensland’s housing markets are expected to rank among the best performing across Australia during 2019 as they have the key factors that drive growth – liveability, affordability, booming infrastructure and enhanced economic prospects.
The Sunshine State leads the nation when it comes to confidence in residential property, as the gears shift from recovery to rising prices.
The NAB Residential Property Index recently tipped Queensland house prices will grow the fastest of the nation over the next two years.
The survey of more than 300 property professionals confirmed rising sentiment around the Queensland markets. And these property professionals also saw Queensland leading the way when it comes to rental growth.
South East Queensland is tipped to be the prime beneficiary of Sydney and Melbourne’s property slowdown, with the state possibly set to return to its place as Australia’s No 1 destination for interstate migration, as more families and downsizers from the southern cities cash-in for a lifestyle in the sun.
2018 saw strong price growth across Queensland, from suburbs of Brisbane to the coastal localities.
Economic growth and jobs now assisting the property market’s performance as Queensland emerges from the shadow of the mining downturn.
It is the value gap between the East coast capitals that makes the move compelling for many.
The value gap is the largest it has ever been between Brisbane and Melbourne and the largest in 15 years with Sydney, according to CoreLogic.
A typical house in Brisbane is around $393,000 cheaper than Sydney and $227,000 cheaper than Melbourne, with Brisbane’s median sitting at $542,000.
Observers suggest this affordability, coupled with positive economic signs, means Queensland is primed for future growth.
The increasing opportunity to work remotely, having set up a home business, or taking up a new job in Queensland is a do-able option.
Brisbane’s median house price sits at new highs, after posting a 2.3 percent increase in the September quarter, with the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) CEO Antonia Mercorella saying the strength of growth proved that Queensland real estate was a good investment and could be relied upon to deliver capital growth.
“While other markets around the country are struggling in the face of tightened lending criteria and cooling investor appetite, the southeast corner of Queensland continues to deliver steady, sustainable growth,” Mercorella said.
“Queensland’s economy is proving itself to be a good performer, against a backdrop of national gloom, with new jobs bringing population growth and demand for housing.”
The REIQ found coastal Queensland locations ranking as the state’s strongest performers during 2018.
These included Mackay’s housing market which has come back from the mining downturn to post 5.6 percent annual growth in its median house price, according to the REIQ’s late 2018 figures.
“We are confident this growth can continue for the moment,” the REIQ advised.
The region has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.3 percent, while the population is growing as jobs attract workers back to the region and the rental market is one of the tightest in the state with just 0.9 per cent vacancy.
With a $340,000 median house price, Mackay is still one of the most affordable coastal districts, with prices still at levels below the peak of the mining boom five years ago.
The tightening of bank lending standards has been seen across Queensland, as noted by the latest SEQ report by Ray White on house and land sales.
Despite this there has been an increase in house and land package prices, up 7.8 percent in Brisbane, up 5.05 percent on the Gold Coast sales and 4.99 percent on the Sunshine Coast where house and land package are a popular way to create a new start.
Estate agent John McGrath noted recently that Queensland’s top two regional performers were the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast due to rising demand from interstate home owners and investors.
One of McGrath’s pinpointed suburb’s to look out for in 2019 was Pimpama, in the northern part of the Gold Coast.
Pimpama recorded Queensland’s fastest population growth at 31 percent in FY17, with many enthusiastically buying or building brand new homes.
“Pimpama is affordable with a median house price of $475,000 and is located within the rapidly developing northern Gold Coast region along the M1 corridor,” McGrath said.
The $100 million Pimpama City Shopping Centre opened in 2018 and the $56 million Northern Gold Coast Sports and Community Precinct is set to open in 2020.
There’s also plans for a new train station to better connect Pimpama to Surfers Paradise.
The economic forecaster BIS Oxford Economics concluded Brisbane will lead the mainland capitals with price growth.
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