By Bob Wilson, 10th August 2007North Queensland’s “capital city” is maintaining its reputation as a consistent performer, with the residential market strong in both Townsville and its twin city Thuringowa.
In Colliers International’s Townsville Residential Research Report, all investment indicators are labelled “strong”, “solid” or “robust” and all are trending upwards - with the exception of comparative affordability, which is tracking sideways.
Colliers believes the Townsville housing market will continue to be influenced by the region’s solid economic performance, jobs creation, comparatively affordable homes and quality of life.
Townsville was once considered the poor cousin to Cairns, which is generally dependent on the fluctuating fortunes of domestic and international tourism. These days Townsville has a diversified economy, with industry, mining, port activities and tourism enhancing the city’s place as North Queensland’s finance and administration centre.
Employment is strong across all sectors and average weekly incomes are higher than both the Queensland and Australian averages. This city of 103,000 people (up 2.3% in 2006, double the national growth rate) is forecast to grow to 139,000 by 2026.
Townsville is strategically well-placed to compete with Gladstone as the state’s main centre for minerals processing and export. The Queensland Government this month announced a major infrastructure plan which would drive Townsville’s $1 billion port expansion and enhance the city’s industrial development plans.
The Northern Economic Triangle Infrastructure Plan (2007-2012) envisages an economic powerhouse including Mt Isa, Bowen and Townsville as the State’s centre of minerals processing, industrial development and horticultural production. (Predictably, however, the State Government is expecting the private sector to stump up funding for low emission energy generation.)
Colliers International’s report shows that median house prices increased 17% to $310,00 in Townsville and 13.7% to $290,00, in Thuringowa in the 12 months to March 2007. Strong price increases since 2001 came from a low base, however, and median prices are still lower than all Australian capital cities except Hobart. For this reason alone, the property market should remain strong, despite the recently announced 0.25% increase in interest rates.
Growth in median house prices has been particularly strong in those Townsville suburbs rated as affordable, including Deeragun, Mundingburra, Hermit Park and Kelso, all of which improved by 22% to 24% in the year to March 2007. The Colliers report observed that the median house price in South Townsville had almost tripled in value in the past five years. Median house prices in Garbutt and Currajong, to name two, increased from $95,000 and $105,000 to $252,750 and $270,000 respectively since 2001. The best performing suburb (South Townsville) enjoyed a 187% gain from $110,000 to $315,750 over the same period.
Kirwan is also a “hot” suburb, according to PRDnationwide research which shows that 348 houses were sold in the six months to March 2007. Research analyst Dean Dederer says the median house price jumped 13% to $327,000 in Kirwan as a result. Kelso, one of the affordable suburbs, was not far behind, with 158 house sales.
Acreage property achieved price growth of 22% in the year to March 2007.
Townsville is attracting the big money also, with hillside suburbs like North Ward and Castle Hill and waterfront properties in Douglas, Annandale and the Upper Ross achieving six-figure sales. The Townsville Bulletin reported that up to 2005 there had been only 20 sales of $1 million+ residences – but last year alone there were 18 sales in this category, with prices as high as $2.25 million.
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