With an impressive portfolio, Alex Ben has over 11 years’ experience in the property valuation arena and is an expert Commercial Valuer.
Recently appointed Director of Commercial within Opteon’s Victorian Commercial team, his broad expertise spans diverse areas. These include industrial, office, retail, residential and mixed-use developments, and residential valuations with additional specialisation in childcare and medical clinics, and food and cold store premises.
As an associate member of the Australian Property Institute and a Property Council of Australia member, Alex has held a true passion for property from a young age. With a family background in property fostering his interest, Alex has always been fascinated by property values and how they are derived.
When asked about this, Alex said,
“Being able to understand the full nature of the property and the driving forces behind its market value was something that led to my curiosity and ultimately my passion for undertaking a career path in valuations”.
With his passion for property undisputable, Alex often tells people that commercial property valuation is like putting a puzzle together. He believes there are different pieces contributing to the property’s value, which in some cases can become extremely sophisticated when ultimately determining what is driving the market value for the property.
“Each property is different, so no day is the same when valuing a broad range of commercial valuations in varying localities. This keeps the work interesting and challenging but rewarding at the same time once you’ve reached an outcome,” he says.
Alex highlighted that the industry is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace and believes Opteon is leading the way with our own data intelligence and technology products. This technological advancement allows our valuers to produce high quality valuations while servicing our clients in a timely manner and keep us at the forefront of innovation.
As the end of 2019 and indeed the decade is behind us, we look at how the second half of 2019 performed for the Gladstone property market and the positive indicators for 2020 and beyond.
A total of 25 vacant blocks of land were sold in the second half of 2019.
Up to 1,500 sqm
13 land re-sales of blocks ranging in size from 576 sqm to 1,116 sqm show sale prices ranging from $35,000 to $190,000. Suburbs include Boyne Island, Glen Eden, Kin Kora, O’Connell, South Gladstone, Tannum Sands and West Gladstone.
Eight developer land sales of blocks ranging in size from 313 sqm to 742 sqm show sale prices ranging from $56,000 to $110,000. These estates include:
- Forest Springs, New Auckland
- Hill Close, Clinton
- Little Creek, Kirkwood
- Stockwood Estate, O’Connell
- Tannum Blue, Tannum Sands
1,500 sqm + Rural Residential blocks
Three re-sales and one developer sale of blocks ranging in size from 3,682 sqm to 62,580 sqm show sale prices ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. Suburbs include Burua, Calliope and O’Connell.
STRATA – UNIT/TOWNHOUSE/APARTMENTS
Gladstone is still the most affordable strata market in Queensland as mentioned by REIQ. The segment is showing glimpses of improvement on the past few years with periodic rental increases strengthening the market.
The $400k plus segment has shown increased sales volumes with overall confidence appearing to be strengthening particularly with well-maintained properties that are showing reduced days on market and in some instances receiving multiple offers. Although sales volumes are still down on the previous years, the price quality is considered a more important metric.
Tannum Sands, with a current median of $395,000 compared to $335,000 for the 2018 calendar year, finished the year strongly with strong demand in the $600k plus segment continuing.
Calliope also performed well, with a current median of $260,000 compared to $247,000 for the 2018 calendar year. Anecdotal evidence suggests the recently-opened Calliope State High School is the driving force behind the upswing with a reduction in mortgagee in possession activity and strong increases in rental noted.
First half data as illustrated in the Gladstone 2019 Half Time Review showed positive signs. This has continued into the second half with 11 of the 13 re-sales showing price growth from 1 July to 31 December 2019. Positive statistics and a true sign the market is slowly on the rise.
Here is a range of settled sales of dwellings that had sold within three years prior.
|Address||Purchase price (2019)||Purchase price (prior)||Latest % change||*Comments|
|102 Barney Street, Barney Point||$130,000||$150,000 (Aug 2017)||-13.3||Nil|
|18 Harmony Drive, Clinton||$161,000||$151,000 (June 2019)||6.6||Nil|
|23 Paterson Street, West Gladstone||$184,000||$105,000 (Jan 2019)||75.2*||Full internal renovation|
|3 Bellemere Court, Boyne Island||$190,000||$197,500 (May 2018)||-3.8||Nil|
|33 Beltana Drive, Boyne Island||$225,000||$190,000 (Jan 2019)||18.4*||Minor internal renovations|
|36 Mars Crescent, Telina||$249,000||$180,000 (Sep 2016)||38.3*||Minor internal renovations|
|7 Canal Street, Calliope||$261,500||$226,000 (Sep 2018)||13.6||Nil|
|15 Mellefont Street, West Gladstone||$262,500||$230,000 (Aug 2018)||14.1*||Minor internal renovations|
|5 Palm Court, Clinton||$287,000||$230,000 (Feb 2017)||24.8*||Minor internal renovations|
|8 Sovereign Court, Clinton||$307,500||$302,000 (March 2017||1.8||Nil|
|27 Bloomfield Street, Calliope||$343,000||$339,000 (Feb 2019)||1.2||Nil|
|5 James Court, Telina||$425,000||$415,000 (Jan 2017)||2.4||Nil|
|2 Sarah Court, New Auckland||$615,000||$612,500 (Jan 2019)||0.4||Nil|
Overall positive statistics and an indication the market is slowly on the rise. 84% of re-sales showed an increase on their prior purchase price.
Rents are still rising! Bringing relief to long-term investors, if this trend continues, the likelihood of new investment in 2020 would not be surprising due to the more attractive yields that would be on offer.
The general residential rental market, for both units, single unit dwellings and townhouses, in Gladstone is shown in the below table.
|Median Rent||Median Rent||Median Rent||Latest % Change|
|Price $||Price $||Price $|
|Quarter 17||Quarter 18||Quarter 19||Quarters 18-19|
|1 Bedroom Flat||125||130||157.50||21.1%|
|2 Bedroom Flat||140||170||180||5.9%|
|3 Bedroom Flat||185||215||235||9.3%|
|2 Bedroom House||160||187.50||190||1.3%|
|3 Bedroom House||182.50||220||240||9.1%|
|4 Bedroom House||240||270||300||11.1%|
|2 Bed Townhouse||130||150||190||26.7%|
|3 Bed Townhouse||190||215||240||11.6%|
The foregoing figures show a strong increase in the Gladstone residential rental market over the past year, with the rental value of a benchmark four bedroom dwelling up approximately 11.1% and the three bedroom townhouse up approximately 11.6% over the same period. Official statistics released for the December quarter in 2019 indicate the vacancy rate for residential property has decreased to around 2.1%.
The overall strengthening of the rental market can be put down to several current factors impacting the market including:
- Improved conditions in the local economy
- Limited number of new dwelling approvals
- Reduction of rental stock as properties sell predominately to owner-occupiers
- Affordability in comparison to other Regional QLD rental markets
Years of rental decline caused by an oversupply of both dwellings and strata properties has appeared to reach somewhat of a turning point; with affordable prices, steady rental increases, a moderate vacancy rate, capital growth potential and a reasonable yield paving the way for some investors to consider Gladstone as an investment destination once again.
COMMERCIAL/ RETAIL/ INDUSTRIAL
There were three vacant possession sales of commercial/ industrial properties in the second half of 2019. They are:
|13 South Trees Drive, South Trees
Classification: 3 – Industrial
Site Area: 4051 sqm
Building: 296 sqm
Distance: 9.9 km
Living: 296 sqm
Sale date: 02/09/2019
Summary: This property is located in an established commercial area at South Trees, within 8km of the Gladstone CBD. The property comprises a detached, circa 1990’s industrial building with a total lettable area of 296 sqm on a site of 4,051 sqm.
|43 Toolooa Street, South Gladstone
Classification: 211.3 – Office and Dwelling (single occupancy)
Site Area: 759 sqm
Distance: 9.4 km
Living: 121 sqm
Sale date: 31/07/2019
Summary: This property is located in an established commercial area at South Gladstone, within 1km of the Gladstone CBD. The property comprises a detached, circa 1970 commercial building with a total lettable area of 121sqm on a site of 759 sqm.
|153 Auckland Street, Gladstone Central
Classification: 2- Commercial
Site Area: 415 sqm
Building: 268 sqm
Living: 268 sqm
Sale date: 31/12/2019
Summary: This property is located in an established commercial area at Gladstone Central, within 1km of the Gladstone CBD. The property comprises a detached, circa 1980 retail shop with a total lettable area of 268 sqm on a site of 759 sqm.
These sales show a range of $608 psm to $1,570 psm of Lettable Area and $44 psm to $518 psm on a Site Area Improved basis, and a range of analysed yields of between 7.45% and 10.92%.
Therefore, limited information to report on in this segment overall. A handful of developments however are underway, including a new service station on the intersection of Hanson Road and Yarroon Street, and the ongoing stages of East Shores. Stage 1 earthworks of the Philip Street Communities and Families Precinct are well under way. A number of other potential developments have been mooted in the local media in recent months, including a bowling alley at the Central Lane Hotel and a cinema at the Yaralla Sports Club.
Opteon’s local expert
For further insights into the Gladstone property market, contact our local expert:
AAPI CPV Certified Practising Valuer
M 0448 666 333
P 1300 650 346
Josh commenced his career in Rockhampton as an Assistant Valuer with Opteon; in this time, he assisted Senior Valuers with a diverse range of valuation assignments including in the residential, commercial, industrial and retail sectors.
Josh has had experience across a diverse group of property markets throughout Central Queensland and is currently based in the Opteon Gladstone Office.
Associate of the Australian Property Institute
Certified Practicing Valuer
Bachelor of Property
Areas of expertise
Local Consulting & Advisory
In October, Opteon brought together 140 of our key leaders and people for a two-day conference focused on strategies to bring the very best in property advisory services to our customers, now and into the future.
Over the two days, CEO Chris Knight spoke about his vision for the business, and Chief People Officer Di Nadebaum launched our new Vision and Values. Other sessions included a deep dive into Opteon’s digital future, an update on our international growth and a panel interview with some of our key customers facilitated by Chief Customer Officer Gabrielle Gauch.
The program also included sessions on the key elements of our growth strategy including Government (presented by Rob Tot, GM Government & CAMA), Distribution Strategy: Growing Market Share, Revenue and Profitability in the Australia and NZ Markets (presented by Scott Chapman, GM Distribution and Property) and a comprehensive analysis of our IT security framework presented by CFO James Harkness and IT Director Ben Kent.
GM – Operations Simon Spong talked about the importance of our single operating system which benefits customers at every step in the valuation process.
Using the in-house expertise of Lego Master Henry Pinto, our group broke into smaller teams to construct high-value Byron Bay properties using Lego. Our valuers demonstrated keen industry knowledge, creating some truly memorable structures, with local property market insights provided by Byron Bay Director Matthew Tall to help with the judging.
Another important element of the conference is celebrating our people and their incredible efforts over the last 12 months. From our award winners to our emerging leaders, Opteon is home to some of the best and brightest minds in the property industry in Australia and New Zealand. This annual event allows us to recognise our talent and build connections that support our service offering.
Throughout the conference, the focus of the event remained firmly on our customers. A customer-centric organisation, Opteon is always working to accelerate solutions that benefit all our customers, in every industry and market sector. As we continue to build on our success, we look forward to an exciting year ahead.
Australia and New Zealand’s largest independent property advisory firm Opteon has acquired U.S. appraisal management company Apex Appraisal Service (Apex) which manages property valuations across all 50 U.S. states.
Opteon’s move into the U.S. market follows an extensive analysis of operators across the U.S. property valuation and valuation management market.
Apex was selected as the ideal partner for Opteon, with an innovation mindset aligned to Opteon’s ambitious vision for the future of property valuation services.
The acquisition marks a significant milestone in the ongoing success of Opteon, which has grown substantially over the past five years and offers commercial, agribusiness, residential and government property valuation, advisory and specialist property services with coverage over 95% of Australia and New Zealand.
An innovator in the valuation space, Opteon has developed a range of proprietary products that will provide Apex with a competitive advantage in the U.S. market, which is facing challenges regarding the future of valuations and the impact of automated valuation models (AVMs), changing regulation and a lack of new talent entering the field.
International growth was identified as a key strategic goal for Opteon three years ago by CEO Chris Knight.
“We are excited to have chosen Apex to help bring technology-driven valuation management solutions to the United States,” said Knight.
Apex will retain existing leadership and key people including Chief Executive Officer (Americas), Gabriel Hern and Chief Operating Officer, Greg Bernstein. Tim Hamilton, former president of Apex, will form part of Opteon’s newly created U.S. advisory board.
“Apex has been looking for ways to address the challenges of our market,” said Hern.
“Now that we are teamed with Opteon, we can finally see the future of the valuation industry in the U.S.”
With the changing real estate landscape in America, the partnership seeks to provide U.S. customers with faster, higher quality valuation management products and services.
“We are very familiar with the unique challenges we face in this market and have carefully chosen a forward-thinking U.S. partner,” said Knight.
For media enquiries contact:
Marketing Manager, Opteon
+61 419 096 970
The intense media scrutiny surrounding beleaguered Opal Towers and Mascot Towers has highlighted some broader issues in the development of high-rise apartment buildings, and with some 140,000 apartments currently planned or under construction across the country, the impact for the property industry is predicted to be significant.
A Deakin University report published in June this year revealed a significant number of defects in apartment buildings across Australia, including at least one defect in multiple locations in 97 per cent of the buildings examined in New South Wales. Victoria followed with 74 per cent and Queensland with 71 per cent.
This report, along with the Shergold Weir Report Building Confidence – Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia, highlights the considerable challenges with far-reaching consequences for the property industry and the way it is regulated.
The ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday 19 August examined the stark differences between Queensland and NSW building product laws. In 2017, NSW Parliament watered down a draft bill that, following in QLD’s footsteps, was designed to ensure that every person involved in a building’s construction can be held legally responsible for the products they use. According to Four Corners, the bill was significantly changed because Cabinet was worried more regulation could slow down the construction business, and some 80 clauses were pulled out of the bill, including the definition of a non-conforming building product.
The reports determine that it appears that, in some cases, Australia’s apartment buildings are being impacted by a combination of poor-quality building products, inadequate governance, questionable engineering design, high-profile architects removed from projects as soon as sales start to come in, and the privatisation of the building surveying industry.
Another emerging concern is the role of Strata Insurance companies, who are starting to pull back on insuring these types of properties given the current levels of building defects. There are also some reports that insurance companies are refusing to cover claims relating to defects and are pushing the onus back onto the builder. In cases where the builder is no longer active, the responsibility for repairing defects then falls back on to the owners corporation.
There are also reports of developers creating one-off entities to build a development, with the entity ceasing operations after completion. This can leave owners in a precarious position having no recourse if there are structural issues or defects with the property. The owners corporation may be forced into raising special levies to cover the rectification works which not only puts them out of pocket for the repairs but also (if the levies are high) negatively affects the market value of the apartments. We have seen numerous examples where buyers are not willing to pay market rates for an apartment in a building where it is known that special levies will need to be paid in the future to fix defects.
It is becoming clearer that there is a growing public stigma in relation to this class of property – especially in areas of high density, new/modern developments. If not resolved in a timely, cohesive manner by all relevant stakeholders, this could lead to wary consumers and in turn would likely equate to downward trending values in this market sector.
Over the past 19 years, over 650,000 apartments have been constructed across Australia. The coming year will reveal a lot about this market sector. As the largest property valuation advisors in Australia, Opteon’s data bank of over 10,000,000 property attributes, images and historical records enables us to continue to provide accurate, evidence-supported valuations to our customers.
As buyers respond to changes in apartment building valuations, we hope that this will propel the industry to work collaboratively through the current challenges to help overcome the concerns of the market, building a stronger future for housing to support Australia’s ever-growing population.
Opteon is continuing to closely monitor this sector and will provide further insights over the following months.
To discuss any of the issues surrounding apartment building valuations, please contact:
Scott O’Dell AAPI CPV
Regional Director – Residential
02 8973 2900
0408 422 556