Brisbane's sales market

Choosing your neighbours – an impossible task!

Home buyers, as a group, are a judgmental mob! We’re talking generally of course, but the need to know who we might live next door to has no doubt been important to humans since caveman days. How old are they? What do they do for work? Do they have pets?

And the trusty question every agents knows they will get from 99 of 100 inner-city buyers: “How many apartments in this building are rented?”

When new ABS finance stats were released last week at least one property commentator saw a trend on investment in the numbers. RPData’s Cameron Cusher says he sees a slowing of investor demand in the stats. There’s been a lot added to the Brisbane investment pool this past year and more to come. But there may now be an easing in demand.

In Brisbane we know around 70% of all apartments are rented and we estimate more than 85% of brand new apartments are sold to landlords. Home buyers are often disappointed their neighbouring apartments are not all lived in by their owners. There are a handful of mostly high end buildings where tenants are scarce.

But the data tells you almost 3-quarters of your fellow apartment building dwellers will be tenants. Is that a bad thing? Are all home-owners quiet mice with happy smiles for their neighbours, and all tenants loud, obnoxious party animals?

Design of apartment buildings has improved enormously over the years too so the opportunity for neighbours to bug you are still there, but we’d argue they’ve reduced. Most buildings now have tight rules around hard flooring for example, to limit noise transferral. Owner or tenant, “multi-family dwellings”, as the Americans quaintly call them, do need residents to ‘go with the flow’ to some extent.

And here’s a tip for home buyers: If an agent tells you there’s all owner-residents in the building there’s a good chance they’re exaggerating/stretching/twisting/lying. Why? Because we have no way of knowing who lives in every apartment. The databases we use record only the address the home owner lived at when they first bought the property and if they’ve since moved out we wouldn’t know. Or vice versa. (If you could all just stay put that would make the data a whole lot more accurate…!)

In recent years many of Brisbane’s inner city apartments have actually seen tenants turfed out so they can be sold to owner-occupiers. So the 70% might reach 60% one day, but you still can’t choose your neighbours!