Southern buyers forcing up Cairns house prices with record number of million-dollar sales


Property prices in the once-affordable Far North Queensland city of Cairns are now reaching into the millions, thanks to an influx of new residents from southern states.

There are more than a dozen homes currently on the market for well over the million-dollar mark in the city.

It’s a phenomenon the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) says hasn’t been seen in the region for more than a decade.

Zone chairman Tom Quaid said a waterfront home at Port Douglas recently sold for $8.25 million and another home in the Cairns suburb of Redlynch Valley was currently listed for $3.25 million — a record for the suburb. 

Mr Quaid said the prices were due to several factors, including the number of families moving to the area from southern states and to low interest rates.

Underwater lighting on a blue pool alongside an outdoor covered patio with palms in the background
This property at Redlynch Valley in Cairns is listed for $3.25million, a record for the suburb. (

Supplied: Sotheby’s International Realty


“Cairns has managed to avoid the vast majority of issues that other cities and states have had with COVID,” Mr Quaid said.

Mr Quaid said it was a situation that hadn’t been seen in the region since before the 2007 global financial crisis.

Modern kitchen with stone benchtop, fancy light fittings, ceiling fan and low-line windows overlooking a densely treed valley
This $3.25million home overlooking the lush Redlynch Valley in Cairns is set on acreage and includes a chicken pen with ‘eight clucky hens and a rooster’.(

Supplied: Sotheby’s International Realty


“A number of homes are now selling for north of $2 million,” he said.

“When you look back five or six years, you would only see maybe one a year.

“We’re also seeing prices in the very upper range in Cairns of more than $5 million, which is something that hasn’t been seen in a decade.”

Real estate agent Barbara Wolveridge recently sold a waterfront property perched high on a hill in Port Douglas for $8.25 million.

She also has a home coming up for sale at Mooroobool for $7.8 million and has just listed a home at Redlynch Valley in suburban Cairns for a suburb record of $3.25 million.

“Cairns is still very good value compared to the capital cities, [such as] Sydney and Melbourne,” Ms Wolveridge said.

Vacancy rates at all-time low

Rental vacancy rates in Cairns have dropped to an unprecedented low of 0.8 per cent in Cairns, according to the REIQ.

Mr Quaid said it was the “tightest he’d ever seen it”.

A two-storey hillside home with slanted roof overlooks the countryside out to the ocean. It has a narrow pool in the foreground.
This hillside home with uninterrupted views at Redlynch in Cairns is listed for $2.15million.(

Supplied: Belle Property


“We have scenarios where people are offering to pay six months’ rent in advance in order to secure a property,” he said.

Mr Quaid said it was not unusual to receive 30 to 40 applications for a single property and more than a dozen people show up for an inspection.

Push to move there but where to?

The burgeoning high-end property market is a welcome highlight in a tourism-reliant region hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the March quarter, the city’s unemployment rate was 6.5 per cent, a rise of 1.3 per cent over the year.

Cairns residents were some of the biggest subscribers to the federal government’s JobKeeper welfare program that ended in March

Since then, it’s been the target of aggressive tourism and jobs campaigns by the Queensland government, including the Holiday Dollar voucher scheme, the Work in Paradise campaign and the “Good to Go” flight discount pitch.


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