Fears of property 'bubble' looming in some markets

THE housing investment boom that drove up property prices in Mackay and Gladstone is now looming for the Southern Downs and Toowoomba, with property experts warning of a possible bubble.

New regional data from Australian Property Monitors shows increasing house prices in Warwick and Toowoomba, a trend APM senior economist said was driven by "good value" in the area.

In the year to December 2013, median house prices in the Southern Downs region increased by more than 10% to $265,000 and those in Toowoomba went up by 7.8% to $345,000.

The Rose City's market is building on the perception that it is more affordable than its Toowoomba neighbours, APM senior economist Dr Andrew Wilson said.

"It's being looked at as an affordable option to the Toowoomba market, which is moving from being the most affordable of all Queensland regional markets," he said.

"The question is whether Toowoomba will move too far ahead."

But he said Toowoomba was certainly strengthening.

"There is a lot of investor interest in the Toowoomba market because it is the gateway to the Surat Basin," Dr Wilson said.

"It's perceived now as an investor hotspot - I'm not sure if that's a great positive given the experience of Gladstone."

The price for a house or unit in Gladstone has tumbled between 8% and 17% in the past year as its market overheated by billions in gas infrastructure now continues to cool.

In Mackay, median house prices fell 2% while unit prices fell by more than 12%.

In the coalfields shire of Isaac, west of Mackay, house prices dropped by almost 22% from $397,000 down to $310,000. These were prices long inflated by the huge demand created by the resources industry, be it gas development in Gladstone or coal mining in Isaac and Mackay.

The now-calming prices of Central Queensland's mining provinces once drove locals from their home towns as they were increasingly priced out of the market, the effect of a "property bubble".

These areas will be reinvigorated as the Galilee Basin west of Mackay and Rockhampton evolves into an enormous new mining hub.

Gympie, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast regions are likely to improve as they follow the lead of Brisbane, an investment darling with house prices still below its peak of 2010.

House prices on the Sunshine and Gold coasts are also to improve as they are dragged along by Brisbane's momentum.

MEDIAN house prices in Dec 2013 and (Dec 2012)

  • Southern Downs: $265,000 ($240,000) +10.4%
  • Toowoomba: $345,000 ($320,000) +7.8%
  • Bundaberg: $291,000 ($287,000) +1.4%
  • Fraser Coast: $295,000 ($300,000) -1.7%
  • Gladstone: $420,000 ($460,000) -8.7%
  • Gympie: $280,000 ($293,750) -4.7%
  • Ipswich: $320,000 ($308,000) +3.9%
  • Isaac: $310,000 ($397,000) -21.9%
  • Mackay: $412,000 ($420,000) -12.1%
  • Rockhampton: $335,000 ($325,500) +3.1%
  • Sunshine Coast: $460,000 ($448,500) +2.6%

Topics:  property southern downs toowoomba warwick

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