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How many high-rises does the Gold Coast need?

By Andrew Bell

As we've discussed in a series of recent articles, the Gold Coast is facing a very interesting few years on the property front. This has been spurred by an extended period of growth both commercially and in terms of the region's population, which has resulted in a very high demand for homes in prime areas. Coupled with a relative lack of readily developable space, it appears more than likely that the price of land will shoot up at some point in the near future. 

This is great news for those who already own real estate on the Gold Coast, or are planning on getting into the market in the next few years. Longer term though, the situation may make it much harder for residents or investors trying to find their way onto the property ladder. With less properties to go around, prices will increase, which could well price certain demographics out of owning their own home. Fortunately, there is a solution to the problem of less space – building up. 

Units in high-rise apartment buildings are something that we've discussed before, but from the development side of things, how many will there be to go around? Perhaps more importantly, which complexes are worth looking at for buyers?

Living the high life

The Gold Coast has always been something of a mecca for high-rise residential buildings, with a distinctive skyline that boasts some of the tallest towers in the world. For a great example, look no further than Q1 – the Southern Hemisphere's tallest livable structure, and one of the largest and most impressive in the world. This is just one of the countless skyscrapers adorning the region's most popular areas to live. 

Part of the reason for the popularity of high-rise living is the relatively small area that the Gold Coast's most desirable post codes cover. In fact, the city itself is only a little larger than 185,500hectares, compared to nearby Brisbane, which is more than three times as sprawling. Simply put, there just isn't enough room in highly valued areas like Surfers Paradise for everybody who lives there to own a standalone home. High-rise buildings are the answer, but when it comes to choosing one to buy in, there are a few very important factors to keep in mind.

The right high-rise

So, if you're looking to buy a property in one of the Gold Coast's largest buildings, where do you start? Well, regardless of whether you're looking for a home or an investment, the first thing that you'll want to consider is the future of the structure itself. Many of the older towers in the region were built back in the booming 1970s, and as the years have gone by, several have been struck by a condition known as 'concrete cancer'. 

This is when steel begins to rust inside the concrete, completely undermining structural integrity. This results in the need for incredibly expensive renovations to be carried out, and in some cases, the building itself can't be saved. This has happened as recently as 2013, when the Iluka Surfers Paradise high-rise had to be demolished as it was beyond saving. Accordingly, it's a better idea to stick to the newer developments, which provide more security for your investment. 

A great example is the 55 floor, 550 apartment Sundale tower – set to open in September this year – which will be the tallest building in Southport. With a two-bedroom unit on level 24 costing $595,000, the prices are around the same as a similarly sized home, but with the added convenience of apartment facilities and even a Woolworths supermarket in the retail area. Many more similar buildings are set to see completion in the coming years, just as property prices will be starting to spike.

With more people looking for a reasonably priced way to get into the market, the answer to 'how many high-rises does the region need?' may well be 'more'.

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