Toowoomba, located 125km west of Brisbane, has been pinpointed by estate agent John McGrath as one of the most exciting emerging regional centres in Australia.
“Right now, Toowoomba has all the hallmarks for growth.
“We believe its strong focus and investment in infrastructure, retail and lifestyle precincts will have an impact on both interstate migration and employment opportunities in the short, medium and long term.”
McGrath’s forecast comes as several multi-million dollar projects are either underway or being planned, namely the $1.6 billion Second Range Crossing, the development of the 550 hectare Wellcamp Airport Business Park; the $500 million redevelopment of Grand Central shopping centre and the transformation of the railway precinct into an urban village and parklands.
He told his Switzer blog readers that the key indicators of a hot spot are beneficial new infrastructure, redevelopment of retail centres and more lifestyle amenities.
“Toowoomba has them all,” he said adding the median house price is just $362,000 (CoreLogic).
“This affordable price point is not only attractive to the locals, it’s also attractive to tree changers, downsizers and investors.’
The median house rent is $305 per week (realestate.com.au) – a respectable yield of 4.4%.
The McGrath Toowoomba agent Toby Sandell advised that Toowoomba was at “the best point” in the cycle for buying for long-term capital growth now.
“Our local market has been subdued for the past year since the banks tightened investment lending.
“As a result, we’ve seen very few investors in the marketplace, a decline in sales volumes of 33% (APM) and the region’s average days on market has increased to 67 days (REA),” Sandell says.
“While there’s fewer investors, the flipside is we’ve seen more first home buyers and upgraders taking advantage of affordable buying and lower interest rates. There is good demand from locals for quality properties in the right areas.
“Interestingly, the median house price rose by 1% over the year despite these tougher conditions.
“The fact that the price is holding and even increasing slightly is a sign of Toowoomba’s resilience and strength.
“One reason for this is strong and stable employment with the state’s lowest unemployment figures.
“In the lead-up to Spring, we are just starting to see a few more positive signs with a bit more buyer enquiry and a few more investors from Sydney and Melbourne returning to look for well-priced homes.
“Stock is tight but we have been busy doing more appraisals for the past four-six weeks so we’re expecting that stock shortage to ease. We are currently marketing a number of high-end properties which have all attracted good numbers at opens.”
McGrath looked at specific projects.
Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport
The airport is having a positive effect on the accessibility of the region both domestically and into Asian markets. It is continuing to expand, with direct passenger flights to Melbourne and Cairns commencing in March. Several agri-based companies are setting up in the surrounding Business Park in order to take their produce directly to Asia. One of these is a baby milk formula factory – the first in Queensland, which will export directly to China.
Second Range Crossing
This new 41km road is important because it will take trucks off city streets, creating a better community amenity, while also enabling a faster trip for freight services. It will create 1,800 full-time jobs. Major construction is underway, with the peak phase expected around mid-2017, so as more workers move in during summer and into 2017, we expect to see weekly rents rise as well.
Grand Central redevelopment
Stage 1 of this massive new shopping centre should be open for Christmas retailing. The redevelopment will include a new dining precinct, department stores, supermarkets and almost 160 other stores.
Railway Parklands Precinct redevelopment
This 50 hectare site will incorporate a central park, shops, commercial and industrial facilities and residential options. The council estimates it will provide up to 3,300 jobs during construction and a further 1,800 jobs in retail and service industries. The developer is currently working with council to finalise the plans.
Super-Hot Spots within a Hot Spot
McGrath advised every city has its super-hot spots.
“Right now, most of Toowoomba presents great buying,” he said.
South Toowoomba and Centenary Heights
- Hot price bracket: $350k-$500k
- Buyer demographic: Young families wanting value for money and close proximity to the CBD
Property Observer went looking at recent sales and listings.
A three bedroom, one bathroom home in South Toowoomba sold yesterday for $390,000. The property at 209 Geddes Street (below) last traded for $104,063 in 2000.
Another three bedroom, one bathroom home at 127 Perth Street (below) has been listed with $395,000 hopes. The cottage on a generous 559 sqm parcel last traded for $259,000 in 2012.
East Toowoomba and Rangeville
- Hot price bracket: $500k-$800k
- Buyer demographic: Premium suburbs for upgrading families, although stock is very tight
Priced at $799,000, 15 Fletcher Street (below) in East Toowoomba comes with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and its own pool. The home last traded for $580,000 in 2010.
A four bedroom, two bathroom home at 10 Anderson Street (below) in East Toowoomba sold earlier this month for $696,000. It last traded for $124,000 in 1990.