It’s the vibe: With or without the Comm Games, the Gold Coast is flourishing

The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre is seen at Southport on the Gold Coast, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. The Aquatics venue will host swimming and diving competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games which will be held April 4-15 next year. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING satsep23cover – THE NEXT 100 GREAT THINGS IN TRAVELIn 1997, a classic line was coined in the closing scenes of the movie The Castle, when Denis Denuto said: “In summing up, it’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe and aah, no that’s it, it’s the vibe.”

Twenty years later, real estate agents are making a case about a new “vibe”, this time to describe the Gold Coast, which, all jokes aside, will likely give new meaning to the word when it plays host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in a matter of months.

As a property market, it has once again outperformed just about every other region in Queensland, with Domain Group data showing the median house price has grown by nearly 8 per cent in the past year to a new median of $615,000.

That’s nearly double Brisbane’s growth of 3.6 per cent, putting the Gold Coast’s median only $40,000 behind Brisbane’s.

It’s unit market, the largest in Queensland, has defied trends throughout the rest of the state, growing by 3.7 per cent to a new median of $420,000 – making it one of the most expensive unit markets in the state.

Real estate veteran and CEO of Ray White Surfers Paradise Andrew Bell has worked through four boom and busts on the Gold Coast and says that right now, the vibe on the glitter strip couldn’t get much better.

“I don’t know about a vibe,” he laughed. “It’s even more than a vibe. There is a definite degree of confidence and an air of positivity – prosperity – pervading the coast.”

As it moves in to 2018, edging closer to the long-awaited and highly-anticipated Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast is poised to unleash its natural beauty and spectacular coastline on to a world stage.

But Mr Bell says that while the Gold Coast’s success may have started with the Games, it won’t end there.

“It’s not about a 10-day sporting event,” he said. “Yes, the Games will provide a window to the coast for the rest of the world but it will continue to go from strength to strength long after the Games is over.”

Mr Bell said the Gold Coast’s success goes back to when the city won the rights to host the Games, and Jupiters Casino (now called Star), had to make good on a promise they’d made to spend $345 million to rejuvenate the hotel.

“Certainly, there was a significant turn around from then,” he said.

“Jupiters spent a couple of hundred million more than that in the end. Then, across the road, Pacific Fair saw it happening and thought ‘we’d better not get left behind’, so they spent $800 million rejuvenating it.”

The significant projects began rolling in, one after the other, most notable the extension to the light rail system.

“I could name work after work that started to pump money into our region. We’ve been enjoying the ‘Commonwealth Games effect’ for five years,” Mr Bell said.

“So for people to say that there will be a ‘Commonwealth Games effect’ just next year for the Games, they’re wrong. This prosperity has been emerging over a number of years.”

Interstate migration, particularly from Sydney, is up. A renewed local economy means more jobs, which is what was stopping people from Sydney and Melbourne from moving to the coast before, Mr Bell said.

“We’ve really broadened our economic base – we’re not just a tourist centre, we’ve got genuine long-term jobs,” he said.

“In the past here were no jobs for them but now there is, which is why we’re getting an inflow of interstate migration. There’s this really positive attitude towards the Gold Coast – and we haven’t even had the Commonwealth Games yet.

“We’ve got some of the best schools and universities in the country. A lot of people in Sydney in particular, and to a lesser degree Melbourne, have reached that point where they’ve gone ‘this is crazy’. For $1 million, you can buy a substantial property on the Gold Coast and have a beautiful lifestyle.”

Not surprisingly, the positivity has spilled over into the local property market. Moreover, its growth has been measured and sustainable, rather than morphing into a boom situation.

“What I love most is we’ve remained a sustainable market. We’ve been growing at a great rate, but a sustainable rate. We’re nowhere near a bubble; it’s a great, sensible market,” Mr Bell said.

“I’ve been through booms and busts and I hate them. If we had seen surges in prices there would have been a reason for it. There’s been no suburbs that have had prices that have gone up as a result of a direct association with the Games. People have handled it well.”

Mermaid Beach has been the jewel in the Gold Coast’s crown this year, recording the strongest growth for houses. It’s median price is up by nearly 10 per cent, according to the REIQ, reaching a median of $1.53 million.

Even better, the Gold Coast property market has managed not just to survive the slow down in Chinese investment this year, but flourish in spite of it.

Earlier this year the federal budget slugged foreign buyers with steeper charges on purchases and new fees on property left vacant for six months or more.

These measures were taken after the FIRB annual report revealed Chinese buyers led a 19 per cent jump in residential applications, equating to a peak of proposed investment worth $72.4 billion for the 2015-16 financial year.

Mr Bell said the Gold Coast had handled the slow down well, with the exodus of foreign buyers revealing the strength of the local and interstate market.

“I think we were less aware of the local market before then. Sydney in particular, in the last four months, has been an incredibly strong market,” he said.

“There’s certainly been less foreign buyers but we haven’t suffered for it. It hasn’t knocked prices around.”

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the Gold Coast’s growth surge was helped along by a boost in tourism numbers.

“Tourism is one of the largest contributors to Queensland’s gross state product [GSP], with almost 8 per cent of GSP coming from tourism,” she said.

“This is roughly $25 billion in the year to June 2016, which means when that sector grows it offers employment opportunities and this attracts workers who need somewhere to live.”

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