"RELENTLESS pressures" on Rocky's housing market have rendered it Queensland's cheapest, but our units buck the state trend for the better.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland's June quarter report reveals an "atypical performance" in the region's buying market, set against a backdrop of high, but declining, rental vacancy rates.
Rockhampton's low median house price of $261,750 from 125 sales, suggests the market remained relatively stagnate over the past three months; dropping 1.2% on the March 2017 quarter.
Mr Real Estate principal Jason Rayner agrees with the REIQ's "buyer's market" label, as declining demand and increased house supply drive prices and sales to the lowest level he's experienced in the industry.
He sees Rockhampton "near, at or closed to the bottom", and said as Mackay leads the way locally in housing market recovery he expects Rockhampton to follow suit within 12-18 months.
Mr Rayner said the latest figures represented a 900-sales-per-year drop compared to the "boom days" of 2007, which yielded about 1500 sales.
The local unit market, however, reveals a "remarkable" picture.
Rockhampton recorded the highest median price jump in Queensland while the majority of the state experienced a price and demand drop.
At $317,000, the median unit price has jumped 17.4% from March's $270,000.
This exceeds Rockhampton levels five years ago of $305,000 in June 2012.
It appears buyers are most keen to secure their slice of Rockhampton city, which accounted for the majority of sales in what is considered Queensland's smallest market; less than 100 transactions in the 12 months to June.
The next strongest performers in the unit market in terms of median price were Townsville (up 14%) and Fraser Coast (1.2% growth).
The rental market presents a paradox though with Rockhampton's vacancy rates the state's highest, despite rental prices dropping from last quarter across all types of dwellings.
Gladstone hasn't budged at 6.5% vacancy, while Mackay is down to 4.5%.
Rockhampton rentals appear to be headed in the right direction though, with the latest figures showing a 1.4% drop from 8.6% vacancy in March 2017, to 7.2% in the June quarter.
Mr Rayner predicts as Melbourne and Sydney's housing "rapidly" becomes overpriced, investors would look to the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Cairns before turning to other parts of Queensland, such as Rockhampton.
He said however, while capital cities continued to attract people to move in the thousands, people appeared to be leaving Rockhampton.
Jobs are the key, in his eyes, to getting them back.
REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella believes areas which don't exclusively rely on the mining sector are bouncing back quicker, but Mr Rayner believes there's potential in the industry as well as well as new ventures.
He said while large projects such as Adani's Carmichael Coal Mine would see a jump in FIFO workers, it was the smaller coal projects which employ the drive-in-drive-out workforce which steady the market.
Mr Rayner said the strong cattle industry remained a constant, but large infrastructure projects such as the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area and potential increased Defence present in Rockhampton could drive a positive shift in the market.
"If we had an injection of 2000 people tomorrow we would be booming, Rockhampton would be a gold rush," he said.
"People don't come to town unless there are jobs, and they don't bring their family unless there's that job security."
Like Mr Rayner, the REIQ said government funds would play a key role in supporting large, job-creating infrastructure projects.
The industry body pointed to the State Government's $117 million FY2018 commitment as a contributor, but stressed the Stanwell Power Station Upgrade, which supports nearly half of the proposed funding, is unlikely to sufficiently promote regional economic development.
Both the South Rockhampton Flood Levee and the Northern Access Upgrade are identified major injections into the local economy with anticipated construction start dates in the coming years.
The SRFL has secured a $25 million state commitment, $10 million local government commitment but requires the remaining $25 million from the Federal Government before it goes ahead.
The outlook of the residential property market in Rockhampton remains challenged.
The REIQ does not yet see clear signs supporting a change of direction in the cycle over the coming months.
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