It’s amazing how just a little bit of extra research could literally make you hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra equity or profit when it comes to investing.

By Lauren Day

Investing isn’t rocket science, it just requires a bit of work. Those who do a little extra research could soon find their properties easily outperform the market, creating more equity or, for those who choose to sell, more profit. The capital city markets are rising across Australia. It’s an exciting scenario and, with interest rates so low, a fantastic time and opportunity for many of us to buy.

There’s an extra bonus when it comes to buying in Brisbane ­– a market which hasn’t yet quite taken off at the same rate as Sydney or Melbourne, but one that’s definitely rising.

At the moment, a draft new City Plan has been sent to the Queensland Government for final approval. It could take several months but once it’s given the go ahead, the plan will be returned to council and a commencement date will be set.

This plan has now been changed quite a few times. Initially, anyone who owned a block about 400 metres from a train station or shopping centre had the capacity to develop on their block, with low density housing lots proposed to change from 400 square metres to 300 square metres, provided there was a development application.

The big secret is now this: only blocks within 200 metres of a shopping precinct that’s more than 2000 square metres can potentially have a zoning change from 400 square metres to 300 square metres in an area zoned low density residential. Gone are the train stations and bus stops ­– in future it will be about where the little hubs with the newsagencies and bakeries are placed.

It’s a massively exciting plan because hardly anyone knows about it. Even most real estate agents aren’t aware of what’s around the corner, or, to take a pun quite literally, ‘in store’ for the market.

That’s why I’m now on the lookout for something on a 600-square-metre block, close to a shopping section or strip of more than 2000 square metres. So it has to be a ‘cluster’ of shops.

In the Brisbane suburb of Graceville, which is located on the southside and considered a nice residential area and popular with families, blocks that are more than 800 square metres in size always sell for a premium, because everyone knows they can be divided into two 400 square metre lots.

But no one realizes that properties on 600 square metre blocks might also have the potential to be subdivided and developed, provided they’re close enough to a little shopping section.

That’s why I was thinking about buying this:

I’m told it sold for $561,000. Take a look at the block and you will realize that the house sits perfectly to one 300 square metre portion. It has that magic number too of being more than 600 square metres in size – the block sits on 602 square metres of land to be exact.

The next step is to click on the map and zoom in to find the shopping area. It’s so close yet so far away – 166 Graceville Avenue has that little section of shops needed for development.

To the naked eye, it looks like this property would easily come within 200 metres of a shopping centre and it has that beautiful, corner block.

But unfortunately, the new City Plan says property must be within 200 metres of walking distance to a shopping strip, not as the crow flies. This property ended up being about 400 metres.

I’ve checked this with development company PRO Town Planners and the exciting news is that there’s still hope when it comes to property near shopping strips.

“As soon as we go away from codes, it becomes an impact assessable application,” they recently told me.

“This makes it harder to get through but there are still a lot that are approved. We just argue that, although we’re not in the 200-metre zone, we aren’t far off and then try to throw a few more points in if possible. For example, if someone nearby has done it or it’s in a well sought after location, etc.”

So you see, property investing is so much more than just buying ‘the property’. Location is paramount. In future, I’ll be looking at for properties on 600 square metres and close to shopping areas. We’re not talking massive shopping complexes either – simply a shopping area more than 2000 square metres in size. When you think about it, that’s not a hard ask – all those little strips you see with a milk bar, newsagency and small butcher probably easily make that size in Brisbane.

This property in Coleman Street, (if only it had been within 200 metres!) would have been perfect – a corner block, and all ‘house’ to one side.

Whoever jumps on this rule as soon as it’s approved by the State Government and then council has the potential to make a quick buck for doing nothing more than about 30 minutes of extra work. All it takes is finding a block and checking the plan. If you can’t understand it, it’s so easy to call a development company to find out.

Imagine how massive a 600-metre block will seem in 20 years down the track. In Sydney, for example, anyone who has a house on more than 150 metres of land is considered to be living on a huge block. Over time, it’s easy to see how blocks will become smaller and smaller. All you have to do is hold the right block and then sell or develop at the right time.

API will be sure to update readers on this exciting City Plan and announcements as they occur down the track. As for now – I’m no developer or financial planner but it seems like a no brainer to start looking for sites on corner blocks, or properties on blocks with a frontage of 15 metres or more, close to small shopping areas around Brisbane.

Lauren Day is the deputy editor for Australian Property Investor magazine.

© Australian Property Investor magazine – Reproduced with permission.


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