An outside perspective on Cairns

It was nice this week to see the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) flag waved a little higher here in Cairns with REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella attending as keynote speaker at the Cairns Chamber of Commerce’s October Luncheon.

As lovely as it was to have a visitor after far too many events postponed or cancelled in 2021, it was also good to get a more objective, outside view of what’s happening in our market in comparison to the rest of the State.

On the positive front, the excellent activity we are seeing across the housing market is bearing out in the statistics, with the median house price for Cairns as a whole rising from circa $400,000 five years ago (and $415,000 12 months ago) to over $460,000 now. That’s a clear 10% increase – which is something we haven’t seen in a very long time. Half of all property sales across our region were above that mark, and in the case of some suburbs, significantly so.

Palm Cove, by the way, is far and away our most valuable suburb, with a median house price north of $800,000 – which funnily enough is higher than the median price for Brisbane as a whole.

Time on market is also down (time from list to sold), with this now just 29 days on average.

The figures for our local unit market however show minimal change year on year, and a marginal backwards step compared to five years ago. Interestingly enough, while the image of units might be one of waterfront high rises, the median unit price remains in the low $200,000s – indicative of the more common low and medium rise apartments across our region.

Time on market has reduced significantly though, which can often be a precursor to growth, and having seen a number of apartments sell recently and achieve new price benchmarks along the way, there may yet be blue sky ahead in this sector.

High insurance costs remain a limiting factor, though with the government’s reinsurance scheme set to expand in 2022, we may see these costs begin to reduce, increasing the appeal of apartment living and allowing for greater price growth – particularly given the strong rental yields consistently being achieved – with a unit that sells for just over $200,000 being regularly able to achieve a $350 per week rental.

Stock remains tight, so for those thinking of selling, timing is still in your favour.