Sunshine Coast’s red-hot housing market hits tipping point


This view from Ocean Street, Maroochydore is not dissimilar to some of the quieter areas on the Gold Coast. Photo: Chris Nyeste

The Sunshine Coast housing market has never been so vibrant.

With rental availability at nearly zero, the building market in a frenzy and development happening at fever pitch, analysts are saying the coast is Australia’s number one region for value increase.

USC’s In-Depth team looks behind the statistics to discover what such rapid expansion means for the Sunshine Coast.

Tight rental market keeps landlords happy

By Louise Nilsson 

A crisp sunrise over First Bay, Coolum Beach. Photo: Louise Nilsson

As the Sunshine Coast’s population continues to rise it creates an extremely tight and competitive rental market which favours landlords but threatens the housing stability of renters.

The absence of COVID-19 cases on the Sunshine Coast throughout 2020 and the increase in people who can work remotely has given city dwellers a new incentive to relocate here.

Sunshine Coast community boards on Facebook have been flooded with posts by residents who can’t afford their increased rent prices, are struggling to get a spot in rental viewings, or cannot compete with people who are paying several months’ worth of rent upfront.

Code Property Group principal Candice Gillies said the rental market is incredibly tight across all areas of the Sunshine Coast.

“I don’t think anyone recalls the volume of inquiry we are seeing at the moment,” she said.

Gillies said it began halfway through last year when Victorians started to see a prolonged lockdown period and Sunshine Coast residents were out of their lockdown.

“We started to see a spike at that stage of southerners looking to move here semi-permanently,” she said.

“The influx of people definitely benefits landlords. They’re achieving high rents and zero vacancies which means we’ve got really happy landlords.”

Although the rental market is good for landlords, it puts many residents in a dire situation that has seen more people turn to community housing as an alternative.

Coast 2 Bay is a community housing provider which manages roughly 1000 properties across the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay.

Half of these are community housing and the other half are affordable housing under the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Coast 2 Bay chief operating officer Lee Banfield said the current housing market is tough for many locals.

“We have been having a lot of conversations with people who would not normally be looking for social housing as a solution … you know they are working, they can’t get into the market,” Banfield said.

“People are ringing up looking for solutions and we don’t have them.”

Banfield said that many rentals are disappearing out of the market as owners begin renovations on their properties.

“Owners have been returning to properties where they have rented them out for years because they have been living elsewhere; they’re now returning to the coast and renovating properties and moving back into them.”

Saskia Anderson, 23, had to move out of her house in Sunshine Beach for a similar reason.

“I recently had to move out because the landlord wanted to redevelop the property … our resigning of the contract was rejected unfortunately like many people I know,” Anderson said.

Anderson has resorted to living in her car. Luckily she has found somewhere to live through a house-share website, however, the place isn’t available for another month.

Anderson is also halfway through her semester studying online at the University of Melbourne.

“It’s hard to be focused while I don’t have a stable living situation but it’s pretty much my only option at the moment.”

Sunshine Coast locals reveal how the boom is affecting their lives (video by Mia Ludwig)

Boom in building delays owning dreams

By Mia Ludwig

Aldomi Homes under construction in Aura’s new suburb Nirimba.
Photo: Mia Ludwig

All young adults dream of the day they can wake up with the security of their own home and freedom to live without a lease. For many of those people, the reaction to COVID-19 gave them the perfect opportunity to fulfil that fantasy that once seemed unreachable.

The Federal Government introduced a $25,000 grant for people building in June 2020.

This grant coupled with the $15,000 first homeowners’ bonus was enough to make any young person grin – it seemed too good to be true. With the introduction of grants amid the pandemic, land sold fast. Neither builders nor buyers could keep up with the boom of interest in the housing market.

First-home buyer Alise Fox and her husband bought their land before people became desperate for housing.

“There were quite a few delays in the build … land has been selling out since we bought,” Fox said.

“It was perfect when we got the ball rolling, I had just finished university and had stable employment. It’s really cool to be living in something we designed ourselves.”

Fox and her husband received both the first homeowner and builders’ bonuses which meant they could design and fulfil the dream of their ideal home in Burnside. The developing suburb is set to house 87 more properties.

“We like that a lot of people our age seems to be building there as well so we’re looking forward to the community that will develop,” Fox said.

Aura Property real estate agent Kingsley Ellmer described it as the perfect storm.

“The grants sparked the market, it became crazy because of COVID,” he said.

“The market went into a frenzy.”

Stockland’s $5 billion Aura development is one of the biggest building hotspots in Australia.

It plans to house 50,000 residents once construction is finished. By June 2020, it had welcomed 5000 people and 10 families have been moving to the area each week on average since then. Developers and builders are finding it difficult to stay ahead of the booming housing market in developing suburbs like Aura, Burnside and Harmony.

Builder and founder of Aldomi Homes Paul Stit has been struggling to keep up with the demand for houses since 2020.

“It’s had a reverse effect because now we’ve got too much on. Suppliers are finding it difficult to supply us with materials so the usual 12 to 14-week build has gone up to a 16 to 20-week build,” he said.

The clock has run out on the grants now, with the last builders’ grant ending at the end of 2020. Yet the demand still hasn’t dropped.

“People are lining up to buy, but there’s no land available,” Stitt said.

Real estate agencies on the coast are up against a growing market and people eager to get their hands on new designs. The agencies’ doors are also being flung open by the influx of southerners moving here.

According to Loan Market mortgage broker Lynne Goss, there has been a substantial increase in people applying for building loans. She said first home buyers are the largest group of people who are becoming mortgagees.

With the huge number of people wanting to build or buy, the Sunshine Coast’s median house has increased by 19.4 per cent since the beginning of 2020 to a staggering $770,000 in May 2021. That’s why people like USC science graduate Fox can afford houses in the region, but that’s why the housing shortage began.

In the 2016 Census, Burnside  had a population of 2406 people in 2016. That has since grown to 19156 in 2020 and continues to flourish as more houses are being built. Yet land on the Sunshine Coast is expected to run out in approximately 2.3 years in July 2023 according to an IN QUEENSLAND report.

Queensland’s  Minister of Tourism Industry Development Stirling Hinchliffe said people from Sydney and Melbourne have been rushing to secure land in Queensland which may account for the shortage.

The Sunshine Coast was also ranked number one in Australia’s regions for property value growth.

With the Coast’s positive reputation for the “sunny side of life” and cheap land and housing prices from $480,000 fin some areas, it’s the optimal time for people all over Australia to start crafting their home in the coast’s developing suburbs.

Stitt doesn’t see the demand dropping any time soon.

“Lots of southerners are wanting to come up here now,” he said.

“They’re buying them off the internet and they haven’t even seen the house.”


Concerns coast lifestyle will change in development push

By Chris Nyeste

Some buildings along Maroochydore Beach already exceed the proposed height of future high-density housing. Photo: Chris Nyeste

As the Sunshine Coast’s population is set to grow by 200,000 over the next 20 years, how the Coast’s housing capacity will grow alongside it is being hotly debated.

Specifically, suggestions that high-density housing will be built throughout key areas of the Sunshine Coast have many people worried for their relaxed way of life, not wanting to see their home turn into another Gold Coast.

Division 4 Councillor Joe Natoli is voicing his concerns on behalf of a community he feels is fully behind him, saying the push for high-rise developments “will change the lifestyle” on the Coast.

“People do not want the Sunshine Coast to develop,” he said.

“People love what we have here.”

Councillor Natoli also believes that one of the many virtues of the coast is that the lifestyle is such a “point of difference” from other urban centres.

These concerns may be for nothing.

According to the Sunshine Coast Council’s FAQs on the proposed Mass Transit development, seeking to provide new public transport options to coast residents, there are no plans for significant high-rise developments.

The same information however does suggest increasing housing density across Maroochydore and the coastal corridor.

Most of the local council seems to support proposed changes to housing and transport, with Councillor Natoli being one of the only official voices opposing it despite what he believes to be massive internal support from the council.

“I think it was predetermined by the time I was elected,” he said.

Projections by the Queensland Government Statistician Office (QGSO) indicate that between 2016 and 2041, an additional 92,000 homes will need to be built.

Over 50,000 of these are expected in the coastal corridor and Caloundra.

According to the Sunshine Coast’s Mass Transit Project Team, more than one-quarter of new residents will be wanting to reside along the coastal corridor, and increased housing density along this area is essential to maintaining the Coast’s natural beauty.

In what seems to be a contradiction of Councillor Natoli’s view, the council’s Draft Analysis Report indicates a desire to keep the aesthetic of the coast, and “Support the wider image of the Sunshine Coast as a generally low-key lifestyle location”.

Additionally, there seems to be no suggestion of high-rise buildings changing the unique natural skyline of the coast.

Selected planning options shown to the public do not include housing that exceeds eight or nine stories in the extreme.

Many buildings in Maroochydore and along the coastal corridor already exceed this limit.

Until June 22, 2021, the Sunshine Coast community is being allowed to voice their concerns with proposed development and planning changes.

Regardless of density, data by The Real Estate Institute of Queensland shows Noosa has become Queensland’s most expensive area, joining the likes of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, while the Sunshine Coast’s prices have jumped almost 25 per cent.

Changes are coming in the Sunshine Coast. What’s yet to be seen is how the public opinion is taken into consideration and what change, if any, there will be to the coast’s seemingly idyllic lifestyle.