Bowen Basin housing withstands tough year

THE floundering economy had a surprisingly small impact on Bowen Basin house prices in coal-rich towns with homeowners, investors and coal companies keeping faith that coal prices, and the booming basin, would return.
Bowen Basin housing withstands tough year Bowen Basin housing withstands tough year Bowen Basin housing withstands tough year Bowen Basin housing withstands tough year Bowen Basin housing withstands tough year

HOME building approvals have fallen for the sixth month in a row, recording a 6.6% decrease in September

Angie Tomlinson

Despite the struggling economy, investors and coal companies have held their ground in the Bowen Basin’s coal towns with prices still climbing, albeit slowly, from the September 2008 to the September 2009 quarter.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, house prices in the Central Highlands region climbed 4.1% for the year to September 2009, while coal-centric towns in the region – Blackwater and Emerald – climbed 5.7% and 5.2% respectively.

The small but steady growth over the year only experienced one negative quarter – June – which fell 1.1%.

In the Isaac Region prices climbed 15.5% over the year despite an 11.6% fall in the June quarter. Clermont was down 5.1% but Dysart jumped 21.6% and Moranbah 20.5%.

Isaac Regional Council chief executive officer Mark Crawley told ILN he saw little change in the house prices over the past year, but the rental market was impacted as the majority of layoffs during the downturn sat with contractors.

“The impact was that some of the rents came down a little – in places like Moranbah they were up to $1800 per week. Rental prices are starting to creep back up again now though,” Crawley said.

According to figures from, the median rental rate for the September 2009 quarter in the Banana shire was $320; Central Highlands $450; Dalby $280; Isaac $850; Mackay $390 and Roma $287.

Little change in house prices means Bowen Basin towns are facing the same dilemma as during the boom. The issues of unaffordable housing , especially for lower-paid workers in the service industry, keeping up with housing demand and town infrastructure still exist.

Crawley said in an attempt to keep up with demand, the Isaac Regional Council had released a 346 residential subdivision in Moranbah. He said all the available lots had since been sold and houses were already being built.

He said the developers were a mixture of property investors, mum and dad investors, and people buying a family home.

The council has also completed two affordable housing projects, with 45 units already occupied.

Another affordable housing scheme is also being developed for the Nebo community targeted at the lower income service industry.

The council isn’t the only organisation developing housing. BMA has kept up with housing and accommodation developments in Moranbah and Dysart.

In October last year, subdivision works in Moranbah were completed and contracts have been awarded by BMA for construction of 80 new dwellings, including a mix of houses, duplexes and units in several areas of Moranbah.

BMA said development in Dysart was underway on land on the eastern side of the town. An 84-lot development is being subdivided, with expected completion next month.

Development of an additional 180 rooms at the Dysart Single Persons’ Village is expected to be completed by August 2010 and an additional 60 houses are expected to be provided to BMA employees by June 2011.

“Through its accommodation program, BMA is actively attending to housing needs for its employees. BMA is actively addressing accommodation issues related to demographic changes and current operations, and a range of activities are also underway to ensure there is enough accommodation to meet future needs,” the company told ILN.

According to median house prices for the September quarter were the highest in Isaac at $405,000, closely followed by Mackay at $390,000, and trailed by Central Highlands at $340,000, Banana $285,000, and Dalby and Roma both on $245,000.

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