austalian property market expert explains how brisbane real estate median values overtook melbourne
Several key factors led to Brisbane median house prices overtaking Melbourne’s. Image: Canva.
  • Capital growth in Brisbane has grown substantially since Covid hit.
  • Significant population growth has been forecast.
  • The 2032 Olympics are drawing keen investors to purchase a property in Brisbane.

Interstate migration has gained in popularity since the pandemic when remote working started to become the norm, and people were given a hard blow to realise they should prioritise their lifestyle options over work commitments.

Since March 2020, Brisbane’s capital growth exploded to 50.2%, being fuelled by population growth and more affordable housing opportunities. At this same time, Melbourne was taking a huge blow in its popularity due to the extended lockdowns, and rising unemployment when restaurants and cafés (which Melbourne is famous for) were forced to shut their doors – some permanently.

By the end of 2023, Brisbane finished the year with a rise in the ranks to be the third highest median dwelling value among the capital cities at $787,000, ranking behind Sydney ($1.128 million) and Canberra ($843,000), and only beating Melbourne at the post by a fraction ($780,000).

But when it comes to comparing Brisbane and Melbourne, we must take a deep dive into the characteristics of their property markets and then you will notice a lot of dissimilarities across the markets that make them particularly hard to compete against one another.

Property structure

When looking at the types of properties that make up the markets, Brisbane and Melbourne properties are very different. Although both cities are known to have a large supply of units, Melbourne has a higher proportion of units (33.8%) compared to Brisbane (25.6%) which will bring down Melbourne’s total median dwelling price across houses and units.

Therefore, although Brisbane’s total median house values have overtaken Melbourne’s this does not necessarily mean it will be cheaper to buy a property in Melbourne, particularly if you are looking for a house.

Supply

At the end of 2023, new listings in Brisbane had declined by 9.8%, with total listings down by 18.3%, compared to the same period 12 months prior, according to CoreLogic.

With a limited supply, the property market in Brisbane would be changing to a seller’s market whereas, historically, Brisbane was known for its oversupply of apartments. Due to a lack of new builds, the oversupply in Brisbane has now turned tables and prices that were stagnant for some time are now showing potential.

Investors choice

Brisbane is rising in popularity, particularly for investors who are flocking to buy a property as dwelling values are rising. The annual change in dwelling values in Brisbane as of 31 December 2023 was 13.1% trailing second behind Perth which saw 15.2%, whereas Melbourne was only 3.5%.

Brisbane has seen robust job growth throughout 2023, which relates to strong property demand and confidence in the markets for investors.

The 2032 Olympics are drawing keen investors to purchase a property in Brisbane in the hopes that the future growth of the market will yield good returns. With an influx of investment activity, Brisbane has become an investor’s choice.

When markets have a high proportion of investors, you must take some caution. Ideally, you want to buy into a market with a high proportion of owner-occupiers because this is what will drive up prices. The risk of buying in an investor’s market is that when the market declines, all the investors may choose to exit the market at once which impacts your sales value.

The persistent demand, coupled with a smaller inventory, has led to increased competition among buyers, forcing prices to rise, however, not uniformly across Greater Brisbane.

Cost of living

If you are looking to live in Brisbane or Melbourne the cost of living would be a high consideration on your list. A comparison done by Budget Direct on the cost of living in Brisbane versus Melbourne showed that consumer prices in Melbourne were 3.2% lower than in Brisbane. This includes grocery prices which are 1.66% lower in Melbourne, however, if you choose to eat out, restaurant prices are 0.68% higher than in Brisbane.

Leisure activities were also more expensive in Melbourne with cinema tickets, gym memberships and tennis court rentals all proving to be more costly.

The overall result is that Melbourne dwellers will have a local purchasing power of 1% higher than those living in Brisbane.

Due to the high migration into Brisbane, demand for housing is at some of its tightest levels.

Renters have experienced prolonged pressure with a streak of rental rises now with record high rental prices that showcase a serious lack of supply of rentals on the market, resulting in rental vacancies at an all-time low.

What will the future hold?

No one has a crystal ball and can guarantee how the property markets will perform.

One thing we do know is that Brisbane has not reached its full potential yet.

The Queensland Government has forecasted that by 2046 an additional 500,000 people are to move into the Brisbane City Council area alone, increasing the population to 1,721,000 and a total of 2.2 million people to call south-east Queensland home projecting the population to reach 6 million people by 2046. This has resulted in the Queensland Government allocating $88.7 billion to a four-year state-wide building program.




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