Buy land for the price of a holiday
LAND parcels for the price of a holiday are on offer just outside Brisbane, and expat Aussies are snapping them up.
The islands of southern Moreton Bay are a $4.95 ferry trip from the mainland, with 600sq m blocks starting at $15,000 on Russell Island, and savvy investors from as far as Abu Dhabi are buying their own piece of paradise sight unseen.
But demand is outstripping supply on the islands which will push property prices higher.
Already Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island has seen a 46.6 per cent increase in median house prices in three years and real estate agents on the southern islands say overseas interest is growing.
"A lady in Abu Dhabi just bought an investment property on Lamb Island," Harcourts Living real estate agent Chris McGregor said.
"She's originally from Brisbane and she may come to the island in several years.
"And I just had an offer on a property on Lamb Island from someone in Tassie. They are looking for a cheap house to move in to and bought it sight unseen for $140,000."
Neighbouring Macleay Island is having a building boom with real estate agents estimating around 50 new builds are under construction on the island.
"We're getting quite a lot of retirees coming up from down south," T. Barclay Real Estate agent Sally Kuroczycki said.
"They've bought something here, they've got change and go travelling. They can lock it up and off they go. Or people might buy now and rent it out for later."
But it's not just a bargain that is driving expat interest in Moreton Bay.
The tourist hub of North Stradbroke Island, which attracted 375,000 visitors last year, has also seen an increase in overseas buyers in the past three months.
And while median house prices at Point Lookout have almost hit $1 million, new developments are being bought off the plan in a sign of strengthening up-market demand.
"It's an emotional destination," Dolphin Real Estate's Olivia Cole said.
"Lots of people grew up here and are now coming back. They've holidayed and are buying a property for their family so the tradition carries on.
"And we're seeing expat buyers from Hong Kong, Singapore and London that we haven't seen before wanting to buy their special piece of Straddie."
Sydney-based Edwina Cobon has been coming to Straddie since she was a teenager. Her mum and dad's holiday unit at 4/6 Cumming Pde, Point Lookout has just hit the market with Chris Ransley of Ray White North Stradbroke listing the house for $920,000 on one of the highest parts of Point Lookout.
"We grew up in Port Macquarie (NSW) but we would come here for holidays and stay at the resort, and then mum and dad bought this place 20 years ago," Mrs Cobon said.
"Since I've had kids we've got good friends from Barcaldine in Central Queensland and we meet on the island for a holiday. It's the halfway point."
The Redland City Council and the Queensland Government are working toward a $34.1 million upgrade of the ferry terminals throughout the southern islands to improve facilities for the locals and to support day visitations and tourism.
At the Redland Bay Marina ferry terminal information desk, French-born Helene Grillot, is bemused by island property prices.
"If this were Europe, the islands would be more expensive than the mainland," Ms Grillot said.
"Just because you cross the water here, land is so cheap."
Robert Baxter blew in to Russell Island 16 years ago when a storm swept his catamaran down the bay from Bribie Island.
He fell in love with the place and built a five-bedroom home for his family and now he's transferred to a one-bedroom house on Macleay Island.
"Now the kids can't stay with me, but I have family on Macleay anyway," he said.
Also catching the ferry this week was film industry storyboard artist David Russell, who worked for George Lucas on the 2012 war film Red Tails, and sculptor Masha Marjanovich. The artistic couple are currently living on the Gold Coast while they build on one of the islands.
"The Gold Coast is getting crowded," said Mr Russell, who has lived at Broadbeach for 20 years.
With land parcels at Broadbeach Waters selling for more than $800,000, the $30,000 investment to secure a prime island location in Moreton Bay was too tempting.
"The islands are ideal locations … and there's a lot of creative people out here," he said.
"The shoreline can be overpriced but I like the more aesthetic interior."
On Macleay Island, the three-bedroom, brand new house at 249 High Central Rd is an entry level property at $225,000.
High Central Rd turns into Kate St and is the spine of Macleay Island, running its 6km length.
Further down the road, Joselyn and Steven Broomfield are selling their two-storey house at 151 Kate Street for $389,000.
Mrs Broomfield used to commute from Macleay Island to Toowoomba for an 8.30am start when she worked in merchandising for Bunnings.
"It's just about time management, working out the ferry times," she said.
The house with views of Cow Bay (named after the sea cows that live there) and North Stradbroke Island from the front balcony, while the rear deck looks across to the mainland.
In the dress circle location of Beelong Street, is the executive waterfront residence of 119 Beelong Street at $695,000 with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and an open plan studio with separate kitchenette downstairs.
The view is across azure blue waters to North Stradbroke Island.
"All the islands have a different character," Sally Kuroczycki said from Macleay.
"Russell Island is a whole lot bigger, it's slightly cheaper and the infrastructure is not as advanced as here.
"Then we're the next biggest. We have amazing infrastructure with the golf course, bowls club, restaurants, two supermarkets. There's not much we haven't got. And there's not a house on the island that doesn't have resident curlews.
"Lamb Island is very pretty. It's quietly ticking along, there's a kiosk and an indoor bowls club, but not a lot of infrastructure.
"And then there's Karragarra, more expensive. There's no infrastructure on the island, two main roads, and that's the way the locals like it."
It's on Karragarra that Queensland's first driverless bus will be trialled for a six-month period starting in November.
"We're feeling in the area that something is brewing, there's more interest around at the moment," she said. "It's a good time of year."
But she said island living is not for everyone.
"If you need a big shopping centre, and you need to shop every day and visit a different coffee shop every day, it's not going to work for you," Ms Kuroczycki said.
"Here there is peace and tranquillity, and no stress."
Homes on Karragarra, Macleay, Lamb and Russell islands must have their own effluent disposal system and the size of the system will determine the number of bedrooms allowed in each building.
Dwellings under 60sq m must be assessed under the Amenity and Aesthetics Policy and their position on the block must be assessed by the Redland City Council.
The Redland City Council said Point Lookout has a unique character and the City Plan has specific building design outcomes that need to be checked before designing begins.
Originally published as Buy land for the price of a holiday