Hervey Bay whale

Tourism centres post healthy growth

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The REIQ March quarter median house price report has found the top performer of all major regions across the State to be Fraser Coast, which posted median house price growth of 7.8 per cent to $290,000 over the March quarter. The numbers of preliminary house sales were also up an impressive 42 per cent. Local REIQ agents say the region had benefited from a busy Christmas period as well as an increase in buyers prepared to buy due to the affordability of property in the area.

REIQ Fraser Coast zone chair Linda Bland said the March quarter has been characterised by a slight increase of sales in the $500,000-plus bracket.

“We have experienced additional demand in the upgrader market, which is predominantly coming from owner-occupiers,” she said.

“This can mainly be attributed to the softening of prices that has occurred at the upper-end of the market over recent years which is attracting buyers looking for excellent value for money.”

Buyers were generally still looking for the best opportunities available, she said, which many remaining price conscious.

“We are also starting to experience some increasing levels of confidence with many people starting to believe that the worst of the economic conditions could be behind us,” she said.

Maryborough performed well over the March quarter with its median house price increasing 3.4 per cent to $212,000 over the period.

A solid performer over the year ending March was Scarness which posted median price growth of 5 per cent to $308,750.

The second best performer over the March quarter was Cairns, which recorded median house price growth of 4.5 per cent to $350,000. Local agents say the region now represented excellent value with demand increasing, especially in the upper end of the market.

REIQ Cairns zone chair Greg Clyde-Smith said the market was finally starting to see the re-emergence of confident buyers – however over the March quarter, it was the up-graders at the prestige end of the market that were the most dominant.

“Sales in the $500,000-plus bracket were up compared to the previous quarter, while the affordable end languished somewhat,” he said.

“Access to finance from banks is behind the shift, with banks appearing to prefer clients with greater equity and serviceability, while loan applications at the affordable end are falling over on bank valuations.

“As a result, first home buyers are struggling to get their foot in the door. And while investors are only just re-emerging, it is a marked improvement from 12 months ago when there was none at all.”

Mr Clyde-Smith said he expected property prices to remain stable for the foreseeable future, while sales activity should gradually return to healthier levels.

“All of this does however hang on the need for further interest rate cuts – without which the wind will be taken out of property market sails once again,” he said.

“A more favourable Australian dollar will also provide further stimulus for the Cairns tourism industry and, in turn, the economy and property markets.”

Nicola McDougall, Media and Communications Manager, REIQ