Year-round sunshine, sultry temperatures, palm-fringed beaches. Who amongst us hasn’t dreamed of swapping out city life for the tropics? Well for many of those locked-down in the southern states during Covid they’ve been busy making this a reality – snapping up properties across Far North Queensland’s loveliest beach suburbs.
For the past few months increasing numbers of interstate buyers have been seeking out property in the relatively ‘Covid-free’ haven of Cairns and its beachside suburbs, particularly the pretty tourist town of Palm Cove 30 minutes north of the CBD.
Belle Property Cairns Principal, Nicholas Slatyer, has been at the coal face of this wave of new demand for local property, which is dramatically pushing up prices in what were once affordable beach enclaves.
“With its climate and lifestyle Queensland has always been an attractive place to live and visit, but this year’s round of Covid lockdowns definitely brought forward people’s plans to relocate and embrace the Queensland lifestyle year-round.
“With people in locked-down areas able to work remotely full-time, and better able to save due to the curtailment of travel and entertainment spending, many have fast-forwarded the sea change they’ve dreamt of, with the option to relocate somewhere less affected by Covid an added bonus.
“I would estimate the majority of buyers – 60% – are from Victoria , with 20% from New South Wales and the rest a mix of locations,” Nicholas explained.
With buyers wanting properties they can move to and work remotely from, or as future holiday or retirement accommodation, this has led to the local market booming. The median for a 4-bed house in Palm Cove is up a huge 38% in the last 12 months alone.
“For many buyers an on-shore vacation home gives them certainty for future holidays. Currently, domestic travel is a much more predictable option over international travel which is only just starting to re-emerge,” added Nicholas.
Many of the holiday homes being purchased are houses, traditionally a slower market compared to apartments, but which is now coming into its own as Nicholas explains, “Historically the house market hasn’t been such a star performer for investment returns, but with buyers increasingly purchasing for lifestyle instead of investment, we are now seeing the house market really hit its strides, especially around the Palm Cove area.”
Southern buyers might be increasingly keen to get into the Cairns market, but with border restrictions in place many have had to take a leap of faith and buy sight unseen. Which has meant getting creative with showcasing properties remotely, as Nicholas explains, “We’ve been helping those in lockdown purchase remotely using photos, videos, and facetime walk-through tours. Some were more comfortable than others buying sight unseen, such as buyers who hadn’t visited the area in 20 years or so but still remembered it fondly.”
The buoyancy of the market is echoed in some of Belle Property Cairns’ recent sales, such as 5-11 Peacock Street, Trinity Beach which sold for $2.5 million after a three-week campaign; ‘incredibly quick for the area’ notes Nicholas. Located on an impressive 4,911m2 block, the 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom property boasts spectacular views and is only metres from beach.
Also falling into the multi-million bracket is Lot 9, 63 Foley Road, Palm Cove, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house featuring guest wing, home theatre, gym and resort-style tropical pool; its new owners paying $2 million for the property set on an elevated 2,590m2 block.
Staying in Palm Cove, vendors of a three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouse have walked away happy following its record sales price of $2.4 million. The 268m2 apartment occupies an entire floor of a boutique block of only three dwellings, guaranteeing its new owner total privacy when taking in the uninterrupted ocean views.
With the demand from metropolitan Australians for regional property showing no signs of abating, vendors of luxury property in Far North Queensland look set to continue enjoying big digit results according to Nicholas.
“Never before have we seen this level of interest in our market from the southern states. What we’re seeing is definitely a departure from the norm, but a welcome one for many vendors who are achieving what would have been unimaginable sales prices 18 months ago,” said Nicholas.