Elliott Heads farmland will be developed into the planned community of South Beach

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It’s one of the last coastal suburbs in Queensland where you can buy beachfront land for under $300,000.

Just a four-and-a-half-hour drive north of Brisbane, Elliott Heads in the Bundaberg region is known for its sweeping white-sand beaches and idyllic weather.

But the seaside haven that is home to 1,160 people is set to undergo a major makeover that has been going on for decades.

Elliott Heads is ready for major residential development.(Provided: Mark Hummer)

Work has begun on the $2 billion planned community of South Beach, the brainchild of local macadamia farmer John Manera.

“It took me over 27 years to accumulate this land, and when I bought the last farm, I thought maybe I could do something for the community here one day,” he said. he declares.

An aerial view of a small seaside town surrounded by paddocks.
Elliott Heads farmland will be subdivided into a planned community of 2,000 lots.(Provided: Marc Hummer)

This dream is becoming a reality, with preparatory work beginning on the first stage of the development of 2,000 residential lots.

Residential lots were selling from $224,000 and South Beach development manager Helen Blackburn said they were going fast.

“We released the first step to sell plan in December last year and we sold [out] in one day, so 33 lots sold in one day,” Ms Blackburn said.

“We then released stages two and three in February of this year and sold 101 lots in one week… so it just got crazy.”

elliott directs manera and blackburn
Farmer John Manera and South Beach Development Manager Helen Blackburn at the groundbreaking ceremony.(Provided: Marc Hummer)

The master plan – which appears to have the support of local residents – includes zoning for a shopping district, a 320-lot retirement village and a retirement home to be developed in the coming years.

“It took about 17 years to get to this,” Mr. Manera said.

“The goal is to do something for the community and make everything work, make everyone happy.”

He said the most important thing to him was for the younger generation to have a place to “have a good life and a good time”.

The large scale of development would also create more jobs in the region.

Aerial drone shot of coastal community and blue sea water
Elliott Heads is on the coast, southeast of Bundaberg.(Provided: Marc Hummer)

Ms Blackburn said there had been a lot of interest from buyers further south.

“There are a lot of people moving here from the Sunshine Coast…they found Elliott Heads was the next Noosa for them,” she said.

“It’s a quiet little village and it’s beautiful here, you know your neighbors and you can go down to the beach… it’s idyllic.”

A changing market for the regions

Data released by CoreLogic showed regional house prices fell 1.5% in August.

Chief researcher Eliza Owen said the fall was linked to a rise in interest rates and the behavior of capital markets.

“It’s really the effect of rising interest rates that is starting to impact people’s ability to borrow and their willingness to pay in different parts of Australia,” Ms Owen said.

“The fact that we have seen three successive rate hikes of 0.5% means that this is going to start having an impact on these markets quite quickly.”

While the fall in house prices may pale in comparison to the 41% rise felt after the pandemic, Ms Owen said it was a sign of what was to come.

An aerial view of homes along the shoreline.
Data from CoreLogic showed regional home prices fell 1.5% in August.(Provided: Marc Hummer)

“It’s not unusual for capital cities to be a bit of an indicator of what’s going on in the region,” Ms Owen said.

“Regional markets generally lag capitals in reaction to interest rates, as they are generally not as expensive as what you see in capitals.”

According to some forecasts, prices could fall by 20% next year.

But AusWide bank chief executive Martin Barrett said regional towns would not see the same declines as capital cities.

A man stands smiling with a jacket over his shoulder.
Martin Barrett does not think that regional areas will be so hard hit by falling house prices.(Provided: Auswide Bank)

“I expect property prices in Bundaberg to stabilize, but I don’t expect Bundy prices to contract materially,” Barrett said.

“The reason is that we have a strong rental demand.

“We also have house prices that remain relatively low compared to many places in Australia and especially those major capitals.”

Ms Owen said that despite the market lagging behind capital cities, people in regional Queensland could expect property prices to continue to fall as long as interest rates continued to rise.

“For some of these smaller markets, you can expect a more reasonable drop, given that their slower prices generally make them slower and more stable,” she said.

“Overall, I think house prices are going to keep falling as long as we see upward swings in the cash rate, and the cash rate should peak in early 2023 at this point.”

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