Report shows the CQ towns bouncing back from mining bust
AN INFLUX of retirees, young families and people looking for an affordable home is driving property confidence in the Central Highlands the likes of which haven't been seen for many years.
Although the latest REIQ figures have shown an alarming 91.4 per cent drop in Blackwater's median sale prices over five years, a flurry of sales in recent months is indicating a sustainable turnaround in a market hit hard by boom and bust mining cycles.
Blackwater copped the hardest hit according to the figures, but other mining-based towns also showed the stark reality of the resources downturn.
Over five years, median sale price in Moranbah has dropped by 77.4 per cent, Emerald by 50.4 per cent, Gladstone by 38.9 per cent, and Mackay by 25.1 per cent.
By comparison, Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Emu Park have fared well only falling by 11 per cent, 5.9 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively.
Yet in some quarters, the new year is looking more positive.
Jason Campbell, principal of Emerald and Blackwater Real Estate, said dozens of sales in the past months had boosted the confidence of everyone around Blackwater and Emerald.
In contrast to previous booming periods where the market has been boosted investors looking to make a quick and easy return, Mr Campbell said this upward trend seemed to offer a more sustainable future.
While there have been some speculative investment purchases, Mr Campbell said the bulk of the buys were made by owner/occupiers.
Blackwater has been deeply impacted by the casualisation of mining jobs and workers camps, with long term residents fearing it could become a ghost town.
But according to CoreLogic RP Data, there have been 17 sales in Blackwater since the start of September.
Mr Campbell has also recently made two residential sales around Emerald well over the $1 million mark, following a number of sales above $600,000.
The major influence according to Mr Campbell has been affordability.
"We've had numerous retirees moving to the area who haven't lived here before," he said.
"There's been a new push with jobs, a lot more jobs created in the area and therefore the vacancy rates in rentals have dropped dramatically and pushed people back into purchasing property.
"There's been a lot of owner/occupiers who are genuinely living and working in the area.
"Those that are working are going away from that drive-in-drive-out or fly-in-fly-out and moving their families back into the area."
The number of people looking for a tree change in their retirement has surprised Mr Campbell, but he said the appeal was obvious.
Still close to major centres like Rockhampton, but with a small country feel, Mr Campbell said Blackwater allowed people to buy a good value house and still enjoy retirement.
Last November, Wesfarmers, the company that owns Blackwater's Curragh mine, chose not to renew the leases of 44 houses.
However, Mr Campbell said this had little influence on the improved market.
He said those properties, while good value, were only leasehold and buyers were favouring freehold opportunities.
As well as a higher number of sales, Mr Campbell said houses were selling at higher prices.
It's a trend he believes can be sustained throughout the new year.
"With the amount of sales that have occurred, we have cleared quite a bit of stock from the property market," he said.
"Less stock obviously forces up prices with supply and demand.
"So it's not going to be a dramatic bump back to the old levels in a hurry, but a steady increase over the next 12 months."
"It certainly got out of hand during the boom and unfortunately that's the cycle that Blackwater has always had. Hopefully it doesn't get back to those levels because it does make it unsustainable."
- 21 Kendrick Circuit, Blackwater sold for $195,000 on December 6 after just 27 days on the market. It's a modern, four bedroom home with two bathrooms and double lock up garage.
- 16 Oliffe St, Blackwater, a three bed home with open plan living, sold for $87,500 on November 23.
- 76 Arthur St, Blackwater sold for $75,000 on November 15. It's a three bed home with air conditioning.
- 7/17-19 Sandalwood St, Blackwater sold for $80,000 on November 3. This double storey townhouse has two bedrooms and open living.
- 161 Opal St, Emerald sold on December 16 for $165,000. Four bedroom home featuring an in-ground swimming pool.
- 29 Lorraway St, Emerald sold on December 15 for $120,000 after just 22 days on the market.
- 30 Wright St, Emerald, a brand new four bedroom home, sold for $410,000 on November 27.
- 17 Vicki Close, Emerald sold for $245,000 on October 30.