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Brisbane is still the top pick for property investors despite concerns over an apartment glut, a new survey out today reveals.

The Property Investment Professionals of Australia national survey has found 43 per cent of investors prefer Brisbane above any other capital city when it comes to property.

After the Queensland capital, Melbourne is the second most popular investment destination (32 per cent), followed by Sydney (7.8 per cent).

The survey results come as financial advisory firm Ferrier Hodgson warns buyers are taking twice as long to settle on off-the-plan Brisbane units and Chinese investors are walking away from contracts.

The firm has found settlement time frames have doubled from two to four months.

In another sign of strain hitting the market, Ferrier Hodgson is also seeing foreign buyers, particularly Chinese purchasers who are unable to obtain finance from Australian lenders, rescinding contracts because of tightened lending conditions.

And at least one industry commentator is predicting Brisbane’s apartment glut to impact house prices — not just apartment prices — by around 5 per cent.

“The problem I think for Brisbane is that as those apartments in the inner city come on all at once, it creates a decline in prices, but if you’re out in the suburbs you won’t feel it,” AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver says.

“I don’t think (prices are) going to crash, but they might drop 5 or 10 per cent.

“House prices could be affected in those areas as well simply because of more competition.”

A major forecasting firm is even more pessimistic — predicting the inner Brisbane apartment market could be in for another three to four years of pain.

BIS Oxford Economics managing director Robert Mellor says the market was already experiencing price declines of 10 per cent, with the risk of another 7 to 8 per cent fall in the next 12 months.

“The worst of it’s not over and if potential buyers walk away, I suspect there’ll be even bigger price declines,” he says.

“This is a pretty significant correction and the population growth is not strong enough to absorb that at the moment.”

Ferrier Hodgson property director Campbell Gordon says the final quarter of 2017 would be crunch time for the inner Brisbane apartment market, with thousands of completed units set to hit the market and developers under pressure to settle their stock.

“The lead up to Christmas will be really telling,” Gordon says.

He says the market had held up better than Ferrier Hodgson had thought it would so far, but settlement risk was a significant concern.

Gordon says the volume of apartment settlements in the pipeline, difficulty gaining finance and nervous buyers were blowing out settlement time frames.

“Should confidence continue to deteriorate, particularly where apartment values fall by more than 10 per cent of the purchase price, then a significant number of purchasers are at risk of default and walking away,” he says in a recent report.

Place Advisory director Lachlan Walker is also seeing more instances of settlements taking longer, with developers having to send out 60 to 90 day warning letters.

Walker says while contracts were rarely rescinded, there were more cases of foreign buyers terminating contracts and losing their deposits.

“Previously we would very rarely see a foreign buyer not complete a deal,” he says.

And it’s not just new apartment projects that are expected to take a hit.

Ferrier Hodgson predicts owners of second-hand apartments are also likely to suffer.

“Owners of older stock will come under increasing pressure on the back of ample choice for renters, who are now in the box seat when it comes to selecting a rental property and negotiating terms,” he says.

“While inner city areas such as Newstead and Fortitude Valley, West End and South Brisbane will face these pressures, we have heightened concerns for developers and financiers with exposure to middle ring suburban areas such as Albion, Nundah, Cannon Hill and Chermside where significant apartment projects are completing now and throughout the rest of 2017.”

It comes as the major banks target apartment buyers in a clamp down on lending, with ANZ telling its brokers to tighten lending restrictions in more than 30 Brisbane suburbs, where unit purchasers will need a bigger deposit.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland figures show an overall decline of 2.3 per cent in the average price of apartments in the June quarter.

More than 5300 units were finished in inner Brisbane this year, and another 11,000 are being built.

Developers are offering discounts, rental guarantees and furniture packages to entice buyers, with a backlog of more than 2200 new units still waiting to be sold in some projects.

Two-bedroom apartments in The Marc Apartments project in Kangaroo Point are being marketed for sale through online property agency iBuyNew Group with a free furniture package, a one-year rental guarantee and a $5000 rebate for buyers who sign up before the end of September.


Elizabeth Tilley,, 27 September 2017