A perplexed Dixie Gibson and son-in-law Norm Self at their flood-affected home.
A perplexed Dixie Gibson and son-in-law Norm Self at their flood-affected home.

Land values 'defy logic'

A 2.7-METRE wall of flood water swept through Dixie Gibson’s Canning St property in January, yet according to the latest Queensland Government’s valuation his land is now worth $1500 more than it was last year.

How the perplexed 73-year-old asked can his property have increased in value, despite having flood water through it twice this year?

“It makes no sense,” Mr Gibson said.

“My property is worth less now, if anything at all.”

Yet figures released this week by the Queensland Valuer-General Neil Bray show almost all Warwick’s flood-affected residential properties have increased in land value by between $1500 and $5000.

The rise means the Southern Downs effectively bucks a state-wide trend, which has seen land valuations fall by up to 25 per cent in flood-affected parts of Queensland.

In contrast across the Southern Downs land values have risen at an average of six per cent since last year.

However Mr Bray said the latest government valuations had taken into consideration the recent extreme weather events which hit the region.

“Most landholders should see little difference in their new valuation, other than through normal market movement,” Mr Bray said.

“Residential land within Warwick and Stanthorpe has generally shown small increases in values.

“While sales within the townships of Allora, Yangan, Killarney, Pratten, Leyburn, The Summit, Ballandean, Mt Colliery and Applethorpe have shown moderate increases.”

Mr Bray said rural residential land across the Southern Downs had also increased by 10 per cent.

“If landholders believe their annual valuation is incorrect, or does not reflect damage caused by weather events, I encourage them to lodge an objection by July 4, 2011 with any supporting information,” Mr Bray said.

Warwick real estate agent Rob Finlay has described the increase in land values for flood-affected residential and rural residential property as “very strange”.

The LJ Hooker principal said the reality was the residential market was stagnant, while rural residential property values had fallen by between 15 and 20 per cent.

“Warwick house prices are the same as they were two years ago,” Mr Finlay said.

“While rural land and rural residential sales have been hard hit and prices have definitely fallen significantly.

“So how the government valuations can be up on 2010 figures defies me.

“Land values – especially in flood-affected areas – should definitely have come back.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham.

“I am surprised land values have increased for properties affected by the recent floods,” Cr Bellingham said.

“Some of these properties were severely inundated and I had thought the Queensland Government valuations would take that into consideration.”

Cr Bellingham urged property owners to scrutinise their valuations and prepare to make formal objections.

“I understand it is inconvenient, but I think it is important people take their valuation concerns to State Government,” he said.

“Valuations are of course the basis on which rates are levied so it is important land holders feel they are fair.”

When queried whether there was a provision within local government to offer rate concessions to local residents impacted by the floods, Cr Bellingham said it would be difficult.

“A rise in valuation doesn’t necessarily equate to a rise in rates,” he said.

“But I am anticipating there will be a significant change again this year as we work to bring a mode of differential rating into place.”

For Mr Gibson and his son-in-law Norm Self, who have spent the past two months rebuilding the timber cottage on Canning St from bare frame stage, the issue defies logic.

Mr Gibson’s house block at the lower end of Canning St jumped from $32,500 in the 2010 valuations to $34,000 this year.

“How can land that was flooded twice be worth more now?” Mr Self asked.

“There was 2.7m through the house the second time. In 1976 the water only came up to the floorboards.

“And you know Dixie couldn’t sell the place if he wanted to because no one is going to buy down here for years.”

The pair described feeling perplexed and a little concerned the unexpected rise in land valuations could equate to a rate rise.

“It doesn’t make any sense that land in flood-prone areas like this would actually be worth more after the flood,” Mr Self said.

“I can’t understand it at all.”

For more information or to lodge an objection about land valuations residents can contact their local Department of Environment and Resource Management office or visit www.derm.qld.gov.au or 1300 664 217

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