Wednesday 25 August 2010

Property and economic forecasts not all that rosy for Cairns

We can expect more of the same, at least for another year. That was one of the themes dished out at yesterday's business luncheon from local business forecasters, Bill Cummings and Rick Carr in their economic and real estate review.

An annual highlight of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, the function attracted a capacity house, but I failed to spot our infamous CBD councillor - an event I assumed he would be attending.

The beautiful Lockhart room at Cairns Colonial Club, played host to the lunch that included a tasty braised caramelized "pork collar butt" - a rather poignant serving suggestion, given how much has been cut out of the Cairns' economy over the last year.

It was "one of Cairns' worst years" according to Bill Cummings.

"I said that the worst of the falls in the regional economy due to the global financial crisis had occurred." Bill Cummings told the Cairns Chamber yesterday. "And so they had, but in what has been one of the worst years for Cairns in its economic history, it has taken until recent months for any signs of an uplift to become evident."

"We need programs for a Cairns and Peninsula Australia Plan that clearly sets out this region’s potential, not just in tourism, but in agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining and address the key infrastructure needs of the region and policies to achieve its potential," Cummings said.
"One that clearly sets out Cairns’ role as the capital of the north’s most populous and fastest growing region and the city’s potential to play a wider role in the Asia Pacific region and the tropics in general."

Rick Carr, of Herron Todd White, presented his reflection and forecast of the Cairns residential property market, whilst perennial number counter, Bill Cummings reported on the Cairns economy.

Rick Carr shared the grim news we are all too aware of - house sales fell by 40%, and land by 85%, over the previous 12 months, but the property market still held a strong performance, despite the large decrease in sales.

"Sales were down substantially compared to what they had been in previous years, but property still turned over."

Cairns had endured a number of negative effects with the country's highest unemployment - which still sits just over 10% - double the national average.

Rick Carr says things could have been a lot worse.

The median house price is $355,000, and land price $163,000. Rental vacancy is now around 6% and moving upwards because seasonal and hospitality workers are not moving to Cairns, causing rent to drop by $20 a week - with some areas dropping by substantial amounts to attract renters, however these were the exception, rather than the rule.

CairnsBlog author chats with Rick Carr and Bill Cummings following their presentations to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.


Wham ! said...

Bill Cummings is last century's news. We need new business commentators with a broader perspective. Nice bloke in his day though.

Leuco Gaster said...

Wham! Bill Cummings perspective is broad - unlike most Cairns business commentators, he looks beyond the suburbs. His long years of experience in the Far North are invaluable, and cannot be replaced by pundits with little knowledge of FNQ beyond Cairns (there's a lot of it!), or who have been here for only a decade.