Lennox, Ballina are hot spots
By Luke Prendergast
SOMEONE has let our secret out in Queensland.
They've found out Lennox Head and Ballina are among the nation's real estate hot spots.
Queenslanders are hopping over the border as frequently as that other invasion from the north, the cane toads.
Rose Wanchop, of Red Rose Realty in Byron Bay, this week got as many Queenslanders inquiring about North Coast property as she has had over the past six years.
Melissa Wright, from Lois Buckett Real Estate in Lennox Head, reckons half her inquiries and a quarter of her sales come from north of the border.
Not all reach this level but, virtually across the board, estate agents in Lennox Head and Ballina agreed yesterday that around a quarter of their inquiries come from Queensland.
"Quite a few from the Brisbane area have been inquiring and coming in. In fact more so than from Sydney," Ms Wright said yesterday. "I've made quite a few sales to out-of-towners."
Ms Wright said Brisbane and Sunshine Coast buyers saw the local market as still affordable, and were buying properties in order to rent them out for a few years before moving in.
"I'd say around half of them (inquiries) actually at the moment are from up north," she said. "I wouldn't say that many for sales. A quarter of them maybe."
Keith Jones, the principal managing director of PRDnationwide in Ballina, sold a $500,000 unit to a Queensland man last week.
"A lot are looking to get into the better end of the market, with beachfront or waterfront properties," he said.
"Also the major developers, the big multinational companies, are looking at what they can get for the future.
"The word's out that Ballina and Lennox Head are one of the hot spots in the national market."
Mr Jones said between 15 and 20 per cent of his inquiries, and about 10 per cent of his sales, were coming from Queensland.
"Especially the South-East Queensland market with all the inherent problems they're getting up there with water and the social implications. They're discovering the 'Queensland beautiful one day, perfect the next' thing isn't quite what everyone wants.
"They're discovering they can come back over the border and still be two hours away from Brisbane. It's very popular with baby boomers, and will be more so once the bypass is finished at Brunswick Heads in a few months."
Peter Savage, from Century21 Real Estate in Ballina, is another who attributed the increased interest from the Sunshine State to bypass works on the Pacific Highway at Brunswick Heads and Tugun in Queensland.
"That is making everything so accessible and I think they love to come to this part of the world," he said. "They love the beautiful beaches and we've got the airport here as well."
Michael Shay, of LJ Hooker Ballina, said that with the trip to Brisbane likely to be cut to around one hour 40 minutes after roadwork's were complete, interest was high from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
"They like to come down to our quieter area," he said. "They're buying substantial properties too: Commercial and residential. I made a very good sale last Thursday.
"I can see it growing more over the next 12 months with Brunswick and Tugun opening."
Greg Larkin, of Ballina Independents, said: "We've sold quite a bit to Queenslanders lately, probably 25 per cent."