Proposed Maroochydore CBD.
Proposed Maroochydore CBD.

The shape of things to come

IT'S not just the type of property you buy that is important but where it is and how you use it.

In his South East Queensland Market Outlook property analyst Michael Matusik predicts that detached prices should rise on average about 5% across the region over the next 12 months. Vacant land values are expected to rise a similar amount.

The Sunshine Coast, like the Gold Coast, are expected to exceed the wider trend with Moreton Bay, Brisbane North and Brisbane West having better than average prospects.

The Matusik report comes at the same time as demographer Bernard Salt has tipped a huge increase in the Sunshine Coast's population from around 350,000 today to 550,000 in 2040, with young families and children among the fastest-growing demographic groups.

The report by Bernard Salt, The Activated City: Imagining the Sunshine Coast in 2040, found the younger demographic was being attracted by its entrepreneurial spirit, 'hipster' culture and connectivity.

Mr Salt said the region was set to become the home of nimble businesses, tech-savvy Millennials and young families in a major transformation set to reinvent its leisurely seaside image.

Direct flights from Maroochydore into Asia are expected from the expanded Sunshine Coast Airport from 2020 and will see the region become as connected to Asian markets as it is to the rest of the country.

Significant economic and social shifts triggered by the creation of the new CBD at Maroochydore, the expanded airport and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital will accelerate in the coming decades.

"The results will be a Sunshine Coast that is not just bigger, but also younger, more highly educated and entrepreneurial," Mr Salt said.

"The city is being 'activated' by investments in infrastructure such as its new hospital precinct and the building of an international airport runway.

"The development of an entirely new CBD in the heart of the Sunshine Coast at Maroochydore will provide a vital ecosystem in which business, as well as leisure and the arts, will thrive."

This enthusiasm by younger generations to make the Sunshine Coast their home is being reflected in the property market.

Volume of sales continue to rise on the Sunshine Coast, according to Michael Matusik's report, forecast to be up 14% on 2016 and to lead the state along with the Gold Coast and Ipswich.

Yet stock has declined and this limits buyer choice that leads, in some way, to price growth. The number of dwellings available throughout South East Queensland is down 4% on the same time last year.

Yet the Sunshine coast is forecast to be down 12%.

The average time a property is on the market is expected to drop again this year.

Apartment prices on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast are the only areas expected to show growth, even though it is modest.

Population growth, while still robust, has eased across South East Queensland in recent years yet Brisbane's middle ring suburbs are growing faster than projected. We are seeing a shift in thinking. People are less likely to travel, particularly by car. Public transport is coming into play, including bikeways and pedestrian access. There has been a shift in the dynamics, with strong growth in the numbers of people downsizing and/or retiring.

It's the baby boomers that drove the market at the turn of the century and now they are looking for different types of housing. The trend is set to accelerate over the next 10 years.

There is a shifting buyer demand towards more compact dwellings. And these will be close to shops and services, transport nodes as well as natural attractions such as beaches, mountains or rivers.

While much of South East Queensland residential market is improving, the strength of the recovery is somewhat milder than most cycles. It does not have the market grunt that has been experienced in Sydney and Melbourne. The reasons could be employment prospects, increasing housing supply and restrained interest from overseas.

The Sunshine Coast continues to have tight rentals, low unemployment and reasonable housing supply - something that should continue as major developments roll out over the next two decades.

While there has been some buyer transfers to the Sunshine State from southern states, especially Sydney's western suburbs as people cash in on profits, the magnitude remains slight compared to the mid-late 2000s when Queensland was in the midst of a resource-based boom.

Housing types have changed so that we now have traditional detached 21%, small homes or dual-plus living 27%, townhouse or infill apartments 30%, mid to high-rise apartments 12%.

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