It’s business as usual for the real estate market of Hamilton Island, just weeks after the devastating Cyclone Debbie swept through at 270km/h.
While the damage to the island was significant and will take up to five months to completely repair, and the flagship six-star Qualia resort will be closed until July, the market appears to be returning to its pre-cyclone buoyancy, says Hamilton Island Real Estate agent Nick Chapman.
Chapman, on April 7, sold the first apartment within the popular Oasis complex to come on the market for more than 12 months.
“Our inquiries are almost just as strong as prior to the cyclone,” he says. “When we contacted our prospects to let them know no one was concerned, their response was that it is such a beautiful place, the island clean-up was on track and they were still keen on getting into the market here.”
The chief executive of Hamilton Island’s owner, Hamilton Island Enterprises, backs him up.
“I have 14 conveyancing contracts to sign,” says Glenn Bourke. “We are quite a resilient island; we are a community rather than a resort, which gives us the impetus to recover.”
Before Cyclone Debbie, Hamilton Island’s real estate market was on an upward trend. Momentum had been gathering since at least 2015, resulting in the best conditions since the global financial crisis.
“The market has been going really well,” Hamilton Island Property Sales principal Wayne Singleton says.
“We’re experiencing a short supply of stock and it’s been a very active few months. Sales are up 40 per cent on last year and starting to get price growth.”
At the close of summer, the real estate office showcased prestige listings, holiday lettings and more affordable lifestyle getaways, as well as bold red “sold” stamps.
Few listings were left under $1 million and three blocks of land were sold since July 1, after no transactions for three years. At the pointy end, genuine offers were finally starting to trickle in.
“Anything below $1 million is definitely our strongest area and that’s your easy investment with 5 per cent-plus net returns. That’s where the emphasis is; it’s affordable and returns are really strong,” Singleton says.
“The land sales are a sign of confidence; it shows people aren’t frightened to buy a block and build. We’re also getting firm offers on the top end and inquiries are coming through, but until we get that sale and money in the bank, it’s hard to say much about that sector.”
Indicators remain strong elsewhere on the island, providing buoyancy and a boost in confidence.
The low Australian dollar and a rise in domestic visitors has filled rooms across the island’s major hotels. Hamilton Island reports occupancy rates reached a record high of 93.2 per cent in October last year.
Those who picked the upswing, such as long-term island developer Nigel Moore, have reaped the rewards.
Hidden Cove, Moore’s new development, is on schedule to open in September after losing just one gutter and half a sheet of plaster during Cyclone Debbie. For Moore and the builders, the project’s survival is testament to the build quality.
It is the first major project to be built on the island since the fallout from the financial crisis. All 22 apartments have been sold, including a $3.15m four-bedroom beachfront bungalow, which signalled 20 per cent price growth since the project was launched in October 2015.
It has buoyed other patient long-term landowners, whose plans are gathering momentum on the island’s prestigious northeast side, according to Ray White Whitsunday agent Anita Edgar.
Having worked three weeks straight because of demand, she says the island’s gradual growth is having a positive flow-on effect for the entire island. “Certain areas of the island are better than others,” Edgar says.
“But in the last six months, we’ve seen an increase in prices up to $1 million and now we’re seeing movement from $1 million and up to $1.8 million.”
Edgar attributes the strength to an influx of Sydney and Melbourne investors, many of them being pushed out of other regional holiday-maker spots and looking for value and returns.
“That’s where most of our buyers are coming from; they see real value, the potential for capital growth and their returns are huge compared to the city,” she says.
The recently listed, award-winning Solis, a three-bedroom masterpiece at 4 Plum Pudding Close, that carries $15m expectations, will be the market strength’s greatest test. Its slimline concrete rooftop ponds and water features have caught the eye of national and international potential buyers, Queensland Sotheby’s International Realty owner Paul Arthur says.
The house designed by Renato D’Ettorre has three ensuite bedrooms, three pools, a gym and an outdoor fire pit terrace.
“Solis was developed and built with an open chequebook and it is one of, if not the best property on Hamilton Island,” Arthur says.
“I think its significance is what it represents: the time, energy and effort that’s been put into developing a property of this scale and architectural brilliance.”
Additional reporting: Lisa Allen
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