McGrath bets on Brisbane boom

Real estate agents based in south east Queensland should brace for an onslaught of interest nationwide over the next three years, without the snatch-and-grab mentality and white loafers reminiscent of the slick quick-buck 1980s Gold Coast development.

Baby boomers and empty nesters are choosing to move up as far as Brisbane, ignoring the trendy shores of Byron Bay in preference of using the cash from the sale of Sydney or Melbourne homes to re-invest in living comfortably.

Byron Bay, according to real estate mogul and CEO of McGrath Estate Agents John McGrath, is still an amazing place for a sea change but it doesn’t have the infrastructure or employment levels of Brisbane or the Gold Coast, nor a major international airport. In an exclusive interview with Real Estate Business, Mr McGrath said if a city was to be picked on the verge of a boom, he would put his investment dollars in Brisbane.

“During the global financial crisis Queensland was hit harder than most parts of Australia and the floods made an additional challenge and drove very little recovery growth in terms of prices,” Mr McGrath said.

“The three or four major hubs – Brisbane, Gold Coast, Toowomba and the Sunshine Coast – are all areas that represent value today when compared with neighbouring capitals. The baby boomers and empty nesters have woken up to this and said ‘wow’. They are selling their million-dollar houses and moving to the Gold Coast and re-investing in real estate, and the south east Queensland area is proving just too good value.

“Investors are staying closer to the CBD and looking at unit options and apartment investments in suburbs like New Farm and Fortitude Valley as a growth market with a good rental yield. Those considering retirement and who are priced out of Sydney and Melbourne are looking at houses out in the suburbs.”

Mr McGrath’s positive sentiments were reflected in recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, stating Brisbane has recorded the greatest increase in dwelling approvals over the year, driven by the demand for units.

A spokesperson from Harcourts said a lot of development is going on around Brisbane, with investors from overseas and interstate looking around Bayside – a stone’s throw from the central business district.

“We are also seeing demand for larger blocks on two titles being subdivided and unit blocks being built in central Wynnum and Manly,” the spokesperson said.

“We are seeing demand from developers for these types of blocks which are close to transport, amenities and the waterfront.”

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