Brisbane's sales market, trends in Brisbane property

Are Brisbane apartments the perfect 1st home?

At a suburban BBQ the other night the group chat (predictably for these times)  turned to our soaring house prices. “It’s great for us, but what hope do first home buyers have if they can’t borrow $800,000”, said one. “Brisbane apartments are a great option”, I offered. “Really? Everyone wants a house don’t they?” came the reply.

It’s true that many of us grew up in houses. But many of those houses were also built with asbestos and we entertained ourselves with two TV channels! Times, and our housing and lifestyles, change. There’s now more than 500,000 apartments and townhouses across Queensland. Almost half of our state’s 630,000 rental homes are in a body corp. And their median price in this city is now just $437,000 compared with $731,000 for a house. So Brisbane apartments are very much the home of first choice for many buyers.

Affordability isn’t the only benefit, but the sub $500,000 apartment choices for example, are huge in our inner suburbs. For $358,000 our sales team can show you a 1 bed apartment right in the middle of our CBD, high up with river views in a modern, secure building with amenities like a pool and gym. Or for the same price you might be able to buy a run down 2 bed cottage on a busy road in Rocklea. (It’s a 12km drive from the city.)

For those who want to be within an easy walk of work, cafes, bars, shopping, theatres – it’s not a tough decision! The places we like to spend our leisure time are right outside and city traffic means nothing when you’re walking. Our inner-city’s average home has approx 2.3 residents so we often don’t need huge homes. It is true that some buyers prefer more home time and want to renovate, and spend weekends mowing and cleaning and fixing things… For the rest of us, an apartment is a nicely low maintenance option with a lifestyle that’s higher on recreation time!

But what about body corporate fees? It’s accurate to say they aren’t cheap and our last survey showed the inner-Brisbane average is around $100/week. The simplest way to compare them with expenses in a house however is this: your body corp pays for the maintenance of pretty much everything outside your front door. It includes the cleaning and electricity and insurance and gardening and pool and lifts and lobbies and carparks. And there’s even a mandatory piggy bank for the future so there’s savings tucked away for painting and gutters and all those big expenses you’re not considering when you compare this with house ownership. (There are some compliance and admin costs that you don’t pay outside a body corp.)

For a long time the real estate ads for apartments read something like this: “Ideal first home or investor”. Because apartments (formerly known as units to many) were ‘modestly designed’. Let’s just say architects didn’t win awards with them in the 70’s and 80’s! But with the rapid shift to city living of the 90’s and beyond, far more amenity and thought went into their creation. Today even the mid-price apartment market has some very appealing floorplans. So Brisbane apartments have not been the domain of just uni students and childless couples for a long time. Kids and families, empty-nesters, group households – you’ll see all of them in our city buildings.

Brisbane apartmentsSo now to a concern raised by plenty of mums and dads out at inspections with their first home buying children. Wanting the best financial future for their kids they question whether Brisbane apartment prices can ever match the growth of houses. This graph from valuers Herron Todd White charts the past 30 years of changes to each. No-one really knows what’s ahead, but history has a clear suggestion for you!




Please share your thoughts on apartments versus houses. Why do you prefer one over the other for your home?!