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Sandgate: The original Queensland beach escape inspired by the English seaside




Before the bright lights of Surfers Paradise and the idyllic vibe of Noosa, a small bayside suburb was the top holiday spot in Queensland.

Sandgate, a suburb in Moreton Bay, 16 kilometres north-east of Brisbane, was popular among the early Europeans to arrive in the state.

Bringing their English traditions with them, a seaside holiday was high on the list for relaxation and entertainment.

Many believe the name of the area was inspired by Sandgate, which sits on the Kent coast of south-east England.


The traditional owners of the land, the Turrbal people, long inhabited the area and called it Warra, which means a stretch or expanse of water.

The wealthy escape the heat

Historian Helen Gregory said the area had “sparkling” sand and calm waters.

“Sandgate became the popular place to go, yet initially you had to be wealthy to holiday in Sandgate,” she said.

“You had to afford the Cobb & Co coach or had your own horse.

“Not everyone came to swim as many couldn’t, but the pier was built and the promenade was there and that is where they would spend their time.”


The Shorncliffe pier, although not as big as Brighton Pier in the UK, helped cure the homesickness of new locals and tourists alike.

The town was often referred to as “Sandgate, the Brighton of Queensland”.

Ms Gregory said when the railway from Brisbane was built in 1882, the area became a popular weekend destination for residents escaping the heat.

“It became more available for everybody then and guest houses appeared,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Loretta Ryan.

“Guesthouses became really popular and many still stand there today.”

New highway drives tourism

As time went on, the Bruce Highway was built and connected even more people to the region.

“Tourism became very important in the decision to establish the Bruce Highway — in its early stages it was seen as a tourist road when cars appeared in the 1920s,” Ms Gregory said.

“It helped in the development of caravanning, so caravan parks began to appear in the area too.”


Other accommodation that started to appear in the 1930s and ’40s was self-catered accommodation.

“The development of the motel came from America when motoring became the popular form of travel here in Australia; they weren’t common in England,” Ms Gregory said.

“We began diverging as the English never had self-catering accommodation; they thought that it was most unusual as their accommodation was always catered for.”

‘A picture fully pleasing to the eye’

Christmas and New Year’s was also a popular time to visit Moreton Bay.

Boating and swimming were often the chosen water sports, while dances and open-air films were also a hit among tourists.


The Brisbane Courier newspaper reported on the popularity of the area in 1907:

“Sandgate on the sea, often gay and bright and always pretty, was yesterday bubbling with life and movement.

“Thousands of trippers from the city hurried down at an early hour to enjoy the full New Year’s Day, 1907, forgetful of business cares and household worries.

“Thousands more followed during the day until it was estimated there were fully 10,000 visitors gathered at the favourite seaside resort.

“The wide sweep of the bay, the narrow strip of gleaming sand, the dancing wavelets, the green-clad slopes of Moora Park running down to the beach, dotted with thousands of picnickers, the women and children in dresses of white or pretty tints, made up a picture fully pleasing to the eye.”

Ms Gregory said when people weren’t visiting the beach, the hills were another way for early European settlers to escape the heat.

“When the British were in India, when it got very hot on the plains in India, the British went to their hill stations,” she said.


“They did that here too and went to places like the Blackall Ranges or Atherton Tablelands to escape the heat.”

Ms Gregory said although other locations became more popular when air travel and other transport developed, the area remains as a popular day trip for visitors and locals alike.


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Expert insight: Should investors buy Brisbane properties today?



Expert insight Should investors buy Brisbane properties today

With the Sydney and Melbourne property markets declining, the stability of the Brisbane property market has been welcomed by investors with open arms. Will the Queensland capital ultimately emerge as the next investment hotspot?

While Brisbane has yet to witness a stellar growth in its property market, the capital city has remained stable in the past few months as other major capital cities suffer continuous decline in property values.

As a result, a considerable number of investors are starting to flock into the Queensland capital, hoping to take advantage of the affordable entry points and consequently benefit from the eventual rise of its property market in the near future.

How exactly will the Brisbane property market be performing in the next five years?

Streamline Property Buying’s Melinda Jennison said that, in general, she’s optimistic about the Brisbane property market moving forward.

“We’ve certainly had a lot of headwinds as have all property markets now that the royal commission and the federal election are behind us, even though we still have tight lending – that’s going to continue into the foreseeable future, I think. With the second half of the year coming up, one or two rate cuts may provide further stimulus into the market.”

“Brisbane itself had a 38 per cent reduction in building commencements just in the last 12 months. We had an oversupply in the apartment market but that has been absorbed by the accelerating population growth. Vacancy rates are now declining in some of the inner city locations,” the buyer’s agent highlighted.

With good population growth and a decline in housing supply, the Brisbane property market only needs employment and wage growth to complete the ‘perfect recipe for upward pressure on prices’, according to Ms Jennison.

Where to invest

As there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy for investing in property, Ms Jennison highlights the importance of understanding the investor’s personal goals before ultimately jumping into a purchase.

What type of results do they want—rental yield, capital growth, or a balance of both? How can they get their considering their personal and financial capabilities and limitations?

Moreover, investors are encouraged to study the fundamentals that will drive growth into their assets over the long-term.

Ms Jennison said: “We love trains and sub-train line locations, but Brisbane is very widespread and we don’t simply buy in all train line locations.”

“There are blue chip suburbs and the fringe suburbs just on the outer areas of those blue chip locations – the train lines there, that’s where we’re certainly looking at right now… Where there’s price disparity between one suburb and the next, there are certainly opportunities for investors there.”

Apart from train stations, investors are also advised to look out for ongoing and upcoming infrastructure projects in the area, which could ultimately spur growth for investment properties.

In Moreton Bay, for instance, the new campus of the University of Sunshine Coast is expected to improve the housing market conditions across The Mill at Moreton Bay, the new destination with the university at its core, and, ultimately, the entire Moreton Bay region.

Stage one of the campus, which will be located adjacent to the Petrie railway station, is set to be completed in time for the first semester of 2020.

“We feel that Moreton Bay will gentrify quite quickly with young university students moving in, so we’ll see the types of accommodation gradually change over time to suit their preferences. There’s lots of opportunities within the area and the region as a whole because of this gentrification.”

Finally, rezoning may also spur growth in certain property markets across Brisbane in the near future.

Local councils often rezone land to assist in the planning for future growth. Rezoning, therefore, typically occurs around growth corridors or areas where the population and infrastructure spending has been rapidly increasing.

“A lot of the land has been rezoned and we’re certainly still finding great opportunities in that region for investors that are in the $500,000-price point. If we were to categorise investors in Brisbane based on price point alone, that would definitely be our preferred location right now.”

“Were not going Logan or Ipswich for the simple reason that property investment is all about supply and demand—the availability of future supply of land in the Moreton Bay region is a lot more limited than it is when you go west towards Ipswich or when you go south towards the Gold Coast,” Ms Jennison explained.

At the moment, Brisbane is ripe with off-market opportunities, which puts investors who engage property professionals at an advantage.

Property professionals with local knowledge of the markets could serve as the perfect guide and ‘insider’ as investors try to navigate the real estate landscape, especially in changing markets such as Brisbane. Thus, investors are strongly encouraged to engage field experts, where appropriate.

“We’re certainly getting a lot of off-market opportunities presented to us as we get an influx of interstate investor activity… There’s some great buying opportunities across Brisbane, and we’re achieving yields of upwards of 5 per cent right now.. Even up to 5.5 or 6 per cent per annum,” she concluded.




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Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market



Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market

The average number of days on market has edged upwards as the housing sector weakens, reflecting tougher finance conditions, fewer buyers and a longer period of negotiation before vendors achieve a sale.

But with the federal election now behind us, what will be interesting is seeing how the flow on effects impact on consumer sentiment.

For now, Corelogic research analyst Cameron Kusher says current conditions still see buyers’ in the driver’s seat.

“The rise in time on market is a symptom of higher supply, with advertised stock levels across the combined capitals are at their highest level for this time of the year since 2012, and lower demand reflected in capital city settled sales down 16 per cent year-on-year,” Kusher said.

Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market 1

Across Sydney, properties were typically taking 62 days to sell in April this year, while in regional NSW properties were taking 76 days.

“At the same time a year earlier, Sydney properties took 31 days to sell and regional NSW properties took 50 days,” Kusher said.

Over the past three months, Kusher says Melbourne dwellings have typically taken 43 days to sell compared to 27 days over the same period in 2018.

“Although days on market fell over the past month in Melbourne, properties are taking longer to sell than in recent years while in regional Victoria there has been a recent spike in days on market,” Kusher said.

Over the past three months, Brisbane dwellings are typically spending an average of 60 days on the market, in comparison to 34 days for the same period last year.

Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market 2

While in regional Queensland time on market has increased to 77 days, up from 47 days.

“Although values have declined over the past year in Brisbane and regional Queensland it has been a much more moderate decline than in Sydney and Melbourne,” Kusher said.

“Despite this fact, there has been a sharp spike in days on market highlighting that selling conditions have become much tougher despite values having only fallen moderately.”

Adelaide properties currently take 54 days to sell, up from 45 days for the same period a year ago.

Canberra’s days on the market has risen from 31 days a year ago to 52 days. Perth properties typically take 62 days to sell, up from 48 days.

And Hobart’s hot market typically takes 32 days, up from nine days to sell this time a year ago.

While Darwin properties currently spend 77 days on the market, compared with 67 days a year ago.





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What the federal election result means for the property market



What the federal election result means for the property market

A shorter, shallower property price downturn could be on the cards on the back of the Coalition’s victory at the polls, experts say.

But the long-term prospects for first-home buyers are less certain, with changes to investor tax concessions off the table for the foreseeable future.

Following months of uncertainty about the impact of those tax changes, which had led to greater wariness in the cooling market, experts are becoming slightly more bullish, revising their views on property prices, market activity and first-home buyers.

Property prices

“It’s pretty clear to us that the bottom [of the market] is just around the corner,” Commonwealth Bank senior economist Gareth Aird said. “We had a 15 per cent [peak-to-trough price forecast] and we’re almost there now.”

With reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax off the table, a likely interest rate cut on the horizon and a scheme to encourage first-home buyer activity, Mr Aird said, it was reasonable to think prices would not fall much further.

He expected prices to bottom out late this year, but noted it would not be a sharp recovery due to tighter lending standards.

“[It’s likely] the market will bottom out earlier under a Coalition government then Labor, but with [potential] rate cuts on top, you’ll never be able to tell,” he added.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver and Domain economist Trent Wiltshire both also expected the Coalition’s victory, combined with expected rate cuts,  would see the downturn bottom out earlier.

Dr Oliver, who has been predicting a peak-to-trough decline of 25 per cent for Sydney and Melbourne, said price declines were likely to be closer to 20 per cent now.

“Some of threats to property are starting to abate,” Dr Oliver said. “Affordability has improved … and the uncertainty about negative gearing and the capital gains tax has been removed. Tightening of credit conditions won’t get much worse, and at the same time we haven’t seen the panic-selling.

“The fact support is on the way for first-home buyers … along with RBA interest rate cuts, means the market could end up bottoming sooner.”

With a Labor government quite widely anticipated, Mr Wiltshire said, changes to negative gearing — and the potential price falls it could bring — had already been partly priced into the market. 

“This effect will be unwound, so the peak-to-trough price falls will now be probably smaller than thought prior to the election,” Mr Wiltshire said. 

“It’s more likely that prices will bottom out in 2019, [earlier] than if Labor had won,” he added. “But prices still probably have a bit further to fall and the market remains pretty weak.”

Market activity

Regardless of the outcome, Mr Wiltshire said market activity was always likely to pick up post-election as buyers and sellers would have more certainty on housing policy.

“If Labor [had] won, we might have seen a bigger spike in market activity in 2019 as investors would have tried to buy before the negative gearing change, but then there might have been a weaker 2020,” he said.

He is now expecting a more gradual pick-up in prices, with both first-home buyers and investors to drive market activity on the back of the Coalition’s policies.

“Sellers will then respond to buyer interest, there might be a few people who were thinking about selling who have held off [until now],” Mr Wiltshire added.

What the federal election result means for the property market 2

Ray White chairman Brian White said buyers and sellers would be relieved to know where they stood now the election was over.

“[In the lead-up] people were saying ‘let’s sit on our hands and just wait and see what’s happens’,” Mr White said. “That waiting is finished and I think there’s a big chance that confidence will get a nice boost, as we’ve seen already in the stock markets.”

While he is not expecting to see a rush to market, he believes there will be a boost from buyers and sellers who had been waiting on the sidelines.

“I’m confident the market will now improve, because of the stronger [market] curiosity exhibited by the community, which has been reflected by increased auction attendances,” Mr White said.

“People are all wanting to know what’s coming … I believe we’ll look back and sees this period as the bottom of the market.”

McGrath chief executive Geoff Lucas agreed the government’s win would inject confidence and clarity back into the market.

“Conversely, if Labor [had] won and the negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms had passed, it is possible that the current downturn would have been exacerbated,” Mr Lucas said. “At the least, it would have created confusion, concern and uncertainty. “

What the federal election result means for the property market 3

First-home buyers

Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount would have removed concessions for investors, creating a more level playing field for first-home buyers.

The changes aimed at improving housing affordability will not go ahead under the Morrison government. Instead, first-home buyers will have access to a loan scheme — also backed by Labor — enabling them to purchase property with a 5 per cent deposit. 

Dr Oliver expects the policy will bring forward some first-home buyer activity, but that its impact will be limited as it is capped at 10,000 loans a year and requires a higher debt-to-income ratio.

He expects the government will morph the scheme into a grant, which could provide more of a stimulus to the lower end of the market.

While he would not advocate for grants in a booming market as they could further drive up prices, Dr Oliver said it could help in a cooling market when there was concern about the wider impact a downturn could have on the economy.

Mr Wiltshire expected the scheme would have a small but not-insignificant impact and encourage some first-home buyers to get into the market earlier.

However, he noted a Coalition government also meant first-home buyers would not benefit from improved affordability off the back of cuts to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.



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