Gladstone landlords in trouble with Bechtel job losses

The boom might be over and and major job losses a regular occurrence but real estate valuers Herron Todd White believe you would need a crystal ball to predict when the Gladstone housing market would improve.

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Despite the market's decline over the past 12 months, Herron Todd White is still saying that Gladstone has a way to go before prices hit rock bottom.

According to its national property clock, Gladstone is in poor company, joining Emerald, Mackay and Rockhampton as housing markets that are "approaching the bottom".

Aerial View overlooking Kin Kora residential area, Gladstone.

Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Aerial View overlooking Kin Kora residential area, Gladstone. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong GLA040712VIEW

But Gladstone's RE/MAX sales director Shane McLeod said it was often difficult to know when a housing market had properly bottomed out until it had passed.

"The biggest indicator (of the market hitting rock bottom) is when the market shows some stability," Mr McLeod said.

"Pricing has stabilised, moving only a little (in recent months), and nowhere near the plummeting we have seen."

However, in order to "reignite" the local property market, Herron Todd White suggested in its monthly report that Gladstone would need another major project to start construction.

The report also mentioned that recent job cuts at major employers like Queensland Alumina Limited, NRG power station and Aurizon, as well as "2000 local employees working for Bechtel on Curtis Island (who will be) without work within 12 months" continue to destabilise the market.

"These job losses have had and will continue to have a direct effect on the already oversupplied property market in the Gladstone region," the report said.

"The market has now been falling for a longer period than it was increasing and the end is not really in sight."

But Mr McLeod said after dealing with the "most severe correction" he had experienced, Gladstone was getting to the point where its peaks and troughs were getting less severe.

"We've now got a combination of little projects like the biofuels project and the resort development at Rules Beach which should get confidence back into the job market," Mr McLeod said.

"If a big project was announced tomorrow I wouldn't want to see it (because) big booms and busts are not good for the city."

With house prices so low and favourable interest rates, Mr McLeod said he was seeing "a good mix" of buyers entering the market.

He said plenty of first home buyers who have their "heads screwed on right" were taking advantage of how affordable housing is at the moment.

"You've also got the old local investors who know that now is the time to buy and who aren't looking for unrealistic returns," he said. But without a crystal ball, and preferring to look at historical trends, Mr McLeod predicts the housing market will experience "slow and steady growth" moving forward.

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