Change is waiting in the wings for the Sunshine Coast property market.
Change is waiting in the wings for the Sunshine Coast property market. Erle Levey

How house prices have changed in your neighbourhood

ALMOST 200,000 extra residents will call the Sunshine Coast home by 2041, placing the real estate market firmly in the crosshairs as the biggest business in our region for at least the next two decades.

Challenges await as we are forced to accommodate new faces, an increase in housing density inevitable according to industry insiders.

SCOTT SAWYER looks at how the the future of the Coast property market will look and how far we have already come.

From Noosa to Caloundra, here's the state of play for an industry that - for many of us - represents the single largest investment of our lives.

REAL estate is about much more than property for Noosa agent Tom Offermann.

The man with arguably the best surname in the business on the Sunshine Coast has been in the industry since the mid-1980s.

After three decades in the game it would be easy to become complacent or jaded, but not for Mr Offermann.

He said it was the relationships and human connections that still gave him the most satisfaction.

Rubbing shoulders with some of the truly elite doesn't hurt either.

Aside from the way listing properties had changed - he remembered the days where 10 agents would put a sign on a property, fill the centre console with keys and drive buyers around half a dozen potential properties - he said there'd been a gradual change in the Noosa market.

PROPERTY KING: Tom Offermann talks with bidders at 36 Banksia Tce, Noosa Heads.
PROPERTY KING: Tom Offermann talks with bidders at 36 Banksia Tce, Noosa Heads. Erle Levey

A slow refinement of the market, from a smattering of architect-designed homes in the 80s, the market brimming with low-set, brick homes, had delivered more mature homes with designer and architect-designed homes now commonplace.

Three bedrooms was standard, four a luxury when he started out and two bathrooms was about the maximum for a home.

Ensuites and double garages are now almost a benchmark.

"It's been a very gradual transition from the quality of product in the mid-80s to now," Mr Offermann said.

He said the rise of the internet had made real estate a lot easier, especially given many of the properties he marketed were taken to a much broader market.

"Noosa's a fairly sophisticated market because it attracts people from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and often from the more elite areas of those cities and they often have higher capacity to buy, so essentially they will pay more and expect better quality," Mr Offermann said.

He said buyers also came from Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and other overseas destinations.

"We've got to cast a very broad net," the Tom Offermann Real Estate principal said.

Home to musicians, business icons and sporting heroes, Mr Offermann said it was the people that made his job so interesting.

"We sell properties but we're meeting people, we're dealing with people," he said.

"You get to meet people that in other areas you'd never hope to meet."

He's on personal terms with a number of billionaires, deals with three former international number-one tennis players, including Pat Rafter and Thomas Muster and dines with national sporting heroes.

"It's not only the wealthy... but interesting people who've made very big contributions to society," Mr Offermann said.

So does Noosa's prestige insulate it from trends and fluctuations experienced by other markets?

"No, I think the tide carries all ships," Mr Offermann said.

"Definitely the post-GFC period was very difficult because the buyers had run for cover and so many clients were forced to sell for less than what they paid for their properties.

"It was a tough couple of years."

But, he said, the market had recovered and was buoyant at present, the Noosa market tending to recover slightly slower than other markets but stayed stronger for longer when other markets started to decline.


FOR 29 years Vicki Stewart has helped people realise their property dreams in Mooloolaba.

From entering the market to downsizing or selling out and securing an upgrade, Ms Stewart's seen it all.

She said everything had changed over the past almost-three decades, including the way listings were secured.

"There was no such thing as exclusives back then," Ms Stewart said.

She remembered the first time she discussed a small-lot subdivision, an idea relatively unheard of in the days of larger, family home blocks.

"Someone came into my office and said they had four blocks that were 313sq m," Ms Stewart recalled.

"I laughed and thought, 'they can't possibly have blocks that small'.

"The quarter-acre block and white picket fence is a thing of the past now."

She felt some previous developers had erred in looking for maximum yield with smaller units on a block, saying buyers now were prepared to pay top-dollar for a spacious apartment.

Stewart Property's Vicki Stewart at the office in Mooloolaba in 2015.
Stewart Property's Vicki Stewart at the office in Mooloolaba in 2015. Erle Levey

A shortage of land left in Mooloolaba was one of the biggest challenges facing the market, meaning return and repeat business had become all the more important and it was now where 90% of her business was generated.

"The waterfront in Mooloolaba, it's a finite resource because they just can't make any more of it," Ms Stewart said.

Reflective of that scarcity, she said a recent waterfront property had sold for $1.15 million, the new owners planning to knock the home down and rebuild.

"I remember listing one for $48,750 in the 80s. It recently had an offer of $1.25 million," she said.

"Who said real estate wasn't a good investment," she said with a laugh.

The Global Financial Crisis was well-publicised and its effects were long-lasting.

Ms Stewart said she thought the GFC had shown just how over-extended people were with multiple properties purchased and the years after had seen buyers much more conservative in what they were willing to commit to.

That's not to say properties aren't snapped up extremely quickly.

"We had one on the net at 5.30am on Saturday, by 5pm we had a contract at full listed price, $680,000 for a 45-year-old, three-bedroom home in original condition," Ms Stewart said.

That scarcity of land coupled with major projects like the University of the Sunshine Coast when it was built in the past and the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital would help safeguard local property prices.

"I can't see the market going backwards because there's no land left (in Mooloolaba)," Ms Stewart said.

It's not just real estate sales that have transformed through the years.

Ms Stewart recalled when she started rentals were available for $120-$200 per week.

Now properties were being advertised for up to $1000 per week and they were having no trouble renting them to high-quality tenants.

"The rental market is just amazing," she said.

She said a lot of owners were looking to sell for around the $1.5 million mark and downsize into a $700,000-$800,000 property still in Mooloolaba, tipping the rest into their superannuation.

She had also seen an increase in inquiries for the service of buyer's agents as people looked to get into the Coast market which is tipped by some, including McGrath Estate Agents' John McGrath, to rise.


IAN Black's been with Day and Grimes in Nambour since 1986 and has plenty of experience selling hinterland property.

While the property type in-demand on the coastal fringe may have shifted towards lower-maintenance, smaller-scale and higher density he said for the most part hinterland buyers were chasing a green change.

He lamented the current approach to hinterland development which he said was simply 'big block' residential developments placed on a more rural setting, failing to deliver what hinterland buyers really wanted.

"There's no rural atmosphere," he said.

"A lot of people are taking them up but a lot, if they had the choice would (prefer a quarter-acre, half-acre or even two or three-acre blocks).

"When they do come up they're pounced on.

"There is a demand for people wanting a definite, rural atmosphere."

He said he had one or two inquiries a week about the availability of large-block, hinterland properties.

He said buyers were now giving up on the idea of having a little slice of the farm life and he was disappointed that the council hadn't done more to encourage that type of development.

"There is not enough small parcels of land in the near hinterland with a genuine rural atmosphere," Mr Black said.

"It will be urban sprawl."

While he hadn't seen the same shift in buyer's needs as coastal agents, he had notice a dramatic change in the way properties were marketed in the region.

He said the basics of marketing properties were unchanged, but people's abilities through the internet to access property had changed the agent-buyer relationship completely.

Day and Grimes owner Ian Black at the Coes settlement housing development near Nambour in 2009
Day and Grimes owner Ian Black at the Coes settlement housing development near Nambour in 2009 John McCutcheon

He said the rise of the internet had placed added pressure on photography to capture the eye instantly.

After 40 years in the real estate game the changes may have caught some on the hop, particularly the change in buyer-agent dynamic, which he said used to enable more connection before the rise of the internet.

"There's no relationships these days really, people just go through a schedule of OFIs (open for inspections)," Mr Black said.

He says the vendor-agent relationship was now more important than ever.

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