Angie Zigomanis | 5 November 2012

Inner-Brisbane apartment market dominated by investors with 20-something tenants

BIS Shrapnel is currently working through its Inner Brisbane Apartments 2012 to 2019 study, a look at the demand and supply prospects for the inner-Brisbane apartment market. A detailed picture of demand is required to determine whether the current supply pipeline can be met. Following are highlights of the inner-Brisbane apartment population using the newly released 2011 census data.

Occupants in inner-Brisbane apartments are heavily skewed into the young adult age groups, being dominated by those aged 20 to 39 years old. At the youngest end, many are likely to be students at tertiary institutions, while those who are older are typically employed in Brisbane CBD or CBD fringe locations.

The age profile of the apartment population has changed little between the 2006 and 2011 census, although the most prevalent age cohort increased from 20- to 24-year-olds to 25- to 29-year-olds. This suggests that some of the younger apartment occupants are remaining living in the inner city.

Age profile of apartment occupants, Inner Brisbane, 2006 and 2011

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The inner-Brisbane apartment market is dominated by investors. At the 2011 census, 58% of apartments were owned by investors and were rented out. Some 11% were reported as unoccupied. While some of these unoccupied dwellings are vacant and available for rent or sale, or by occupants who were away on census night, the majority are likely to be “lock-up and leave” – apartments owned as a second home by an owner living elsewhere, or as a long-term speculative purchase.

Just under a third of apartments are owner-occupied (32%). The majority of these are apartments with a mortgage (being purchased) rather than fully owned.

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The age profile differs according to tenure. Renters are likely to be younger, dominated by those aged 20 to 29 years old. Those aged 25 to 29 have the greatest prevalence in being purchased (with a mortgage) apartments, while there is also a higher prevalence of all age cohorts 30 to 64 years old in being purchased apartments than occupants in inner Brisbane overall. This would suggest that there is some element of renters moving through to owner occupation. Occupiers of fully owned apartments are dominated by those aged 55 years old and over, indicating empty-nester and retiree households.

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Younger couple without children households, younger single-person households and group households comprise well over half of households in inner-Brisbane apartments. There has not been a major change in household structure between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, although only two household types have recorded an increase in their share of total households – younger couples without children and family households with children. Given the apparent propensity for the young adult population to remain in inner Brisbane, some component of the growth in share of family households with children could be coming from those forming families while living in inner-Brisbane apartments.

An analysis of the 2011 census data indicates that full-time tertiary students comprise 17% of the inner-Brisbane apartment population. Most of the media focus on students living in inner-city apartments has been on overseas students.

While overseas students comprise the majority of tertiary students living in inner-Brisbane apartments, local, Australian-born students still make up a significant 38% of the full-time student population.

While the above provides a broad “top level” analysis of occupiers of inner-Brisbane apartments, the profile of demand varies across inner-Brisbane locations. The occupier profile of the CBD, Southbank/West End, Fortitude Valley, Bowen Hills, etc, regions differs widely and product has to be tailored to that demand. The identification of this localised demand, as well as it outlook for rents, prices and new dwelling activity, is one of the aims the upcoming BIS Shrapnel Inner Brisbane Apartments 2012 to 2019 study.

Angie Zigomanis is senior manager of BIS Shrapnel.


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