The Queensland real estate market maintained its momentum during the last three months of 2012 according to the REIQ December quarter Queensland Market Monitor (QMM).
Over the December quarter, house sales activity was robust for the historically quieter last three months of the calendar year.
Compared to the same quarter in 2011 the preliminary numbers of house sales in Queensland increased by 8 per cent in the December quarter last year.
These quarterly results demonstrate that the second half of 2012 was one of improvement and is the second consecutive quarter where the market exceeded expectations.
Historically the December quarter is quieter than the September quarter but what these figures show is that buyers continue to be more active than in the year before.
There is no doubt the Queensland market is improving due to the low interest rate environment, increasing confidence levels, an element of pent-up demand, as well as a more settled economic outlook here and overseas.
A number of regions experienced a substantial jump in activity compared to the previous year and this was especially true of Queensland’s tourism centres.
The numbers of house sales were up 27 per cent on the Sunshine Coast, 25 per cent in Cairns, and 19 per cent on the Gold Coast compared to the December quarter in 2011.
When it comes to median house prices, Toowoomba posted price growth of 6.2 per cent to $308,000 over the quarter. Mount Isa also did well, recording a median price increase of 8 per cent to $370,000.
Across Queensland’s major regions, median house prices mostly posted stable prices over the quarter with some small reductions or small increases depending on the type of properties that sold over the period.
The Brisbane median house price increased 0.4 per cent to $510,000 over the quarter – the second quarter of positive price growth. The numbers of house sales also increased 8 per cent compared to the same period the year before.
And Queensland units and townhouses followed the positive lead of the house market. The numbers of unit and townhouse sales increased 8.9 per cent in the December quarter 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
The driving force behind the improving sales volumes continues to be the southeast corner.
Compared to the December quarter in 2011, the numbers of sales in Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine coasts continues to trend upwards, which partly reflects the concentration of, and demand for, these types of properties in South East Queensland.
Also this quarter, there has been an increase in the numbers of affordable unit sales across the State, especially for properties priced between $250,000 and $350,000, as buyers take advantage of some attractively-priced properties.
And Brisbane posted its second quarter where the annual median price change has been in the positive, which is another sign that prices are heading in the right direction once more.
Vacant land market
The sales of vacant land have been trending down in Queensland over recent years. To this end, there were 1,283 preliminary land sales recorded in the December quarter across Queensland, which was a reduction of 6.6 per cent on the previous quarter as well as a fall of 16.6 per cent over the year.
The Brisbane vacant land market recorded 131 preliminary sales over the December quarter and 958 over the year ending December.
The median price of vacant land in Brisbane was steady at $285,000 over the quarter however it increased 6.1 per cent over the year.
The median price of land decreased 7.7 per cent in Gladstone to $240,000 over the quarter however it posted price growth of an impressive 18.2 per cent over the year ending December.
The Christmas/New Year holiday period saw an easing in the demand for rental properties across the State, though the level of vacancies remains tight in many regions.
The latest REIQ residential vacancy rates shows that while there are typically more vacant properties available towards the end of December, most major regions continue to post vacancy rates of 2.5 per cent or less. A vacancy rate of 3 per cent is generally considered to be the equilibrium point of supply and demand.
Historically, the late-December/early-January period displays the least amount of rental activity, according to Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) data. This can primarily be attributed to the employment and academic calendars coming to an end, as contract workers and students alike return home for the holidays. But as the data also shows, this lull in activity is short-lived, with rental properties snapped up in large numbers as the New Year gets into full swing.
Queensland has once again endured the destructive force of Mother Nature through heavy rain, strong winds and subsequent flooding. Although the extent of damage will be less than what was seen after the 2011 natural disasters, many REIQ members throughout affected areas have reported damage to a number of properties from their rental roll, with some requiring complete refurbishment.