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Affordable Housing, Economy

Cheap houses selling fast in Sunshine Coast’s ‘northern suburb’

Droves of Sunshine Coast home owners – attracted by homes often half the price – are pulling up stumps and buying in Gympie, local agents say.

The latest Domain data shows that in the Wide Bay-Burnett district town housing values are up 14 per cent since 2014.

Moreover, its cheapest 25 per cent of house sales have risen in value by 13 per cent in the past five years.

While it’s hardly bad news, what it means is that Gympie’s median house price is a budget-friendly $330,000 – almost 46 per cent less than the Greater Sunshine Coast region’s median house price of $610,000.

Data puts the coast’s median unit price at $430,000 in March this year.

These stark price gaps are not lost on coastal residents who, fed up with increasing traffic and booming population sizes, are “finally discovering us”, said Clancy Adams of LJ Hooker Gympie.

Mr Adams reports he has been selling three-bedroom “character” houses in the 20,000-strong town, in need of full renovation, for around $200,000 in under three weeks since the May federal election, and similarly sized houses in better condition for the mid-$200,000s.

“It [Gympie] has always been here and people are getting tired of the congestion on the Sunshine Coast and searching for affordability,” Mr Adams said.

Gympie’s housing is more affordable but it is still a commutable distance from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, agents say. Photo: Tom Grady Real Estate

“They are saying, it [the coast] has changed, that it is not the lifestyle they bought into 20 years ago, and with the [Bruce Highway] bypass meaning 45 minutes to Noosa Heads, two hours to Brisbane, it is only 20 minutes extra for people commuting these days.

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“[Gympie] is pretty much being seen today as a northern suburb of the Sunshine Coast.”

Mr Adams reports “there are still a few cheapies around” and investor yields remain unaffected: still 5 to 6 per cent on average.

About $500,000 will buy one to two hectares with four beds, two baths, a double garage and a possibly pool in Gympie municipality, about 40 kilometres northeast of Noosa Heads, he says.

“They [Sunshine Coast buyers] are selling their four-bedrooms on 400 square metres for about $400,000 and reinvesting here for not much more than half that price,” he said.

“Even if they buy and know they have some updating ahead, they are still well in front.”

Houses like 51 Clematis Street, Gympie, are being snapped up by out-of-town buyers. This property is listed for sale for only $249,000. Photo: Century 21 Platinum Agents

According to Domain sales figures, houses in Gympie’s lowest percentile (house sale prices in the bottom 25 per cent of total sales) sold for a median price of just $260,000 between October 31, 2018 and April 30 this year.

Properties under $250,000, which includes houses and units, currently make up a third of all sales.

Total listings dropped by 5.4 per cent in the past six months, with house listings decreasing by 10.6 per cent and house sales falling by 23.5 per cent.

Greg “Bert” Gilmore of Tom Grady Real Estate in Gympie agrees the cheaper stuff ($180,000 to $200,000) doesn’t last too long, although housing in the early $300,000s had not seen any change.

“People from the Sunshine Coast love buying up here right now because they cannot get anything near the coast any more,” Mr Gilmore said.

“I had a nice open house just recently for a three [bedroom] by three [bathroom] and three groups, all from the Sunshine Coast, came through.

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“In terms of motivation, it is a bit of buy to live in and a bit of rent out. But it is still a buyers’ market overall.”

Greg ‘Bert’ Gilmore says houses at the lower end of the market in Gympie do not stay on the market for very long. Photo: Tom Grady Real Estate

Local sources tip construction on the fourth and final stage of the four-lane 62-kilometre bypass – which will link Curra with Woondum – will start in early 2020.

“This four-lane bypass has and is going to make a bit of a difference,” Mr Gilmore says.

Billy Mitchell, principal of Century 21 Gympie, told Domain it had been a fantastic year and “surprisingly” upbeat since the election.

“Anything in that low $200s market will be sold in under 45 days; even 30 days,” Mr Mitchell said.

Asked why lowest-priced houses were moving so fast – and who was buying – he also credited the region’s four-lane highway, and affordability.

The Mary River town also claims a virtually non-existent rental home vacancy rate.

“The [buyer] drive is coming from the Sunshine Coast plus we are less than an hour to Tin Can Bay, to Hervey Bay, and under two hours to the Brisbane Airport,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I really think it is all about affordability in the past two years, when you consider the Sunshine Coast market and ours.

“Of course it depends on where you work, but if you are travelling for 40 minutes to get to work and can buy a nice family house, three or four-bedrooms on a quarter-acre block, sell up your Sunshine Coast home and have $200,000 left over to stash in your kitty – look, it is a pretty compelling reason to do so.”

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