Herron Todd White’s bearish August

Two weeks ago I posted an article about the vintage of the real estate market in Brisbane. While doing so I provided a number examples of recent home sales in Brisbane that were below the value of the previous transactions in order to judge which year the market had wound back to in a broad sense.  Today while reading the latest Herron Todd White “Month in review” report I realised that they has also provided a number of examples of the same.


A lacklustre end to 2010 had the optimists amongst us believing that 2011 might provide the sunshine and lollipops we’ve all been waiting for. Well the year kicked off with a bang, not a whimper as the flood waters from the west rolled through our fair city. On top of the less tangible but no less devastating effects of rate rise threats and global economic shakes, the floods pretty much put a stop to everyone’s motivation to get in on property. The result is that there were a couple of opportunists, but most took a little time to shake off the disaster and start being normal. Six months on and the non tangibles are again playing havoc and whilst the floods have left an impact, there are a reasonable number of buyers willing to risk future water flows in order to snap up relative bargains.

So our broad brush call is:

Over the past six to twelve months, most markets in SEQ have seen a 5% to 10% fall, or at best remained steady, depending on the sector.

Is that broad enough for you? let’s drill down a little.

The inner and near city semi prestige and prestige sectors have shown some pain. These are usually stalwart markets with little that can dampen buyer enthusiasm but there are some higher end vendors who are obviously smarting and willing to meet the market as a quickly as possible. For example:

  • 16 McDonald St Gordon Park – purchased Feb 2008 for $1.022M. Reported recent sale May 2011 $950,000.

It’s also worth noting that our people on the ground are reporting with regular and frightening monotony on a raft of other resales we can’t quote here. Most are showing the magic 5% to 10% fall although some are bucking the trend and dropping further.

For real hurt, look no further than the affordable investor/ first home owner market in areas such as the western corridor. This sector has taken a hit as interest rate rises put fear in the hearts of those who are borrowing on the edge. Inala and Redbank Plains are finding serious and regular falls of 20% on prices achieved twelve months to two years ago. One of our team believes we are back to the early 2007 market in some areas.

If you’re looking for something safe, your best bet right now is an inner suburb traditional cottage. Who would have thougth during the heady days of late 2007 and early 2008 you would be able to pick something up in prestige Paddington for well under $600,000 come mid 2011. This is blue chip real estate my friends, and its selling at prices not seen since early 2007.

High end units in the city have also copped a hiding. A number of resales reported in the very desirable Riparian building for example are a testament to a slow slow market. There were a few buyers who bought off the plan here and looked to have made a handsome profit on completion of this landmark building. Unfortunately for those that held on and are now desperate to sell, the bad news is that they may have lost that upside and then some. As they say, no one ever made a loss selling at a profit.

The flat line performer in the CBD (i.e. read “winner”) seems to be the well located investor end one bedders. Whilst capital growth for this stock has never been glamorous, a ready and eager supply of tenants mostly in the form of overseas students means these properties have been relatively painless in the downswing.

Mid ring property has been having its ups and downs. Family homes here had, until recently, been fairly solid but a few recent sales are now showing buyers are less enthusiastic.

Finally, large scale outer suburb projects are also on the wane. Two recent examples from north lakes in Brisbane’s north include:

  • 1 Willandra Pde – Sold in May 2010 for $575,000. now under contract but not unconditional at the time of writing for $530,000. Interestingly the owners also put in a 36 sqm Bali Hut and timber deck since their original purchase.
  • 20 Forrestal Cct, – Sold in Feb 2009 for $780k, only to be resold April 2011 for $708k. A very nice house according to our man on the scene.

I know, I know, it all reads doom and gloom and it can be too easy to blame the examples on the conservative valuers peddling bad news, but this just isn’t the case. Our city has had a pretty good run in the property game since 2001 but the soft times are well and truly upon us. While some of our valuers are reporting a trickle of first home buyers back into the market, a serious trend has not yet emerged. On the plus side, our property market is presenting some seriously good opportunities for the cashed up buyer so Brisbane is well worth a look.

Herron Todd White reports have been fairly bearish on property for over 12 months, but I have to admit this is by far the most bearish I have ever read. I actually struggled to find any residential market that was described as anything greater than “subdued”.

The full report can be found below.

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  1. Thanks DE for the report.

    If this crisis rolls on as I believe it will, and we get more unemployment which I also believe will happen the economy will shrink further. Bluescope Steel e.g. reviewing it’s Aussie operations, retailing, etc. the pressure will grow on housing, and considering we’re in the opening stages of the crisis, it’s likely we’ll see further drops.

    I’m waiting patiently…

  2. If they think a “traditional cottage in Paddington” is a bargain at ~$600K, then it just shows how totally out of whack with reality Australian real estate prices are.
    San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the US and a hell of a lot more attractive one than Brisbane/Paddington. Check out what can be had there for this sort of money:
    Of course Australia’s different, hey…

  3. Wow,the bloke who wrote this must now be in protective custody. I was in Brisbane recently asking about price falls and the RE boys got a tad het up. They don’t like talking about it at all.

  4. How typical the author has to defend himself in advance from the cries of ‘stop talking down the market’ from the RE vested interests.

    “I know, I know, it all reads doom and gloom and it can be too easy to blame the examples on the conservative valuers peddling bad news, but this just isn’t the case.”

    He should know by now that property only stops for a breather from time to time before the next surge in growth. Even more important he should be fully aware that we are different in Oz and property doesn’t go down!

  5. This is absolute rubbish. To suggest that the threat of ‘interest rate rises and global economic shakes’ are ‘no less devastating’ than natural disaster, is downright offensive.

    Never mind the other crap like the useless observation that prices are broadly down 5-10% (later qualified by mention of numerous examples of far greater declines) when you could bet your life they were predicting gains of larger magnitude, with a plus sign, twelve months ago. And the bigoted ignorance of comments like “Our city has had a pretty good run in the property game since 2001”.

    I guess I shouldn’t expect anything different from a self-interested RE ‘investor’.