AS THE real estate market across Australia struggles to recover from the global financial crisis, Gladstone has been highlighted by market experts as the top investment location.
The inaugural Fast 50 report by Smart Property Investment, which was released yesterday, said although forecasts for Australian house prices remained lukewarm there were still strong investment opportunities for investors with the nous to sniff out the right pockets of the market.
The report highlights the top suburbs tipped to deliver investors the best capital growth in 2012 and beyond, with resource towns in Queensland making up a significant proportion of the suburbs listed in the report, with 11 local suburbs making the influential list.
Gladstone was the standout suburb, identified by three of the seven real estate experts who collaborated with Smart Property Investment to formulate the report.
The report identified a strong resource industry and impressive population growth as contributors to significant investment returns in our major industrial township, with high capital-growth prospects, low-level risk, low vacancy rates, high per capita incomes and a shortage of housing compared to demand, all contributing to its investment appeal.
Hotspotting director Terry Ryder earmarked Gladstone as one of his top selections.
"Rents have shot up in Gladstone but prices haven't yet moved a great deal," Mr Ryder said.
"The early influx of workers on the $100 billion or so in new industrial projects has started to impact and this will gather serious pace in 2012."
The Bowen and Surat Basin regions and their neighbouring areas also featured strongly in the Fast 50, with Moranbah, Dysart, Chinchilla and Roma making the list.
Woolloongabba was the only Brisbane suburb to make it into the report.
The Fast 50 hotspots were selected based on a range of key indicators, including
population growth, demand for housing, income levels, employment, vacancy rates, previous capital growth and current gross rental yields.
Editor of Smart Property Investment Phillip Tarrant said the 2012 Fast 50 proved there were still plenty of opportunities on offer for astute investors.
"Capital growth is no longer a given when it comes to investing in real estate, but that's not to say it's not achievable either," he said.
"We're moving into a new era for property in Australia and investors will need to do their homework and buy strategically in order to secure the best returns."
Mr Tarrant said the 2012 Fast 50 highlighted the need for investors to look outside capital cities.
"Strong, diverse regional centres are proving a very popular choice among the experts, largely due to their lower buy-in costs and more attractive rental yields - as well as great potential for price growth," he said.
There's money to be made here if you know the market
FIFTY could be the lucky number for Gladstone investors, after the town topped Australia's Fast 50 suburbs list.
Serial Gladstone investor Paul Horsington thinks so, after investing $50,000 into a Gladstone property in 2001 and making 12 times that amount since.
"If you are smart there is money to be made in Gladstone," he said.
Mr Horsington, who lived in Calliope until 1997, has invested in four Gladstone properties in total as well as a block of land.
His latest investment is under construction but he is expecting excellent returns.
"We will sit on what we've got," he said.
"It looks like there is plenty more growth."
Mr Horsington has a good perspective on the boom in Gladstone after moving to Darwin and witnessing the growth a large town underwent thanks to the LNG industry.
"Gladstone jumped three times as much as Darwin did," he said.
Professionals Gladstone property consultant Shaun Noonan said the property market in Gladstone at the moment centred around out-of-town investors.
Mr Noonan said locals were less likely to invest because they saw where the town was just a few years ago and do not expect the region to continue growing at such an exceptional rate.
However, Mr Noonan said he disagreed with that view as he has seen this growth before during the recession of 1991.
"Australia was doing it tough and our prices rose and that was only with two chemical plants under construction," Mr Noonan said.
With the number of plants planned for Gladstone now, "I am a firm believer that history repeats itself", he said.
Fast 50 suburbs
The suburbs in Queensland identified as Australia's Fast 50 include: