Top Melbourne broker moves north

It is not just lifestyle opportunities that attracted him to this market hotspot

Top Melbourne broker moves north

It has been estimated that around 47,000 Victorians have moved to Queensland since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. One of Australia’s highest-ranking brokers, Mark Davis, from the Australian Lending and Investment Centre (ALIC), will soon be joining them. He told MPA that being in lockdown for 262 days had taken its toll on countless Melburnians.

“We’ve just realised what little we offer here in Melbourne,” he said. “When you take everything away and you’ve just got the weather, I think we’ve come to the realisation there is a better place to be.”

Having lived in Melbourne for 20 years, Davis said it felt time for a change and was attracted to Brisbane for its lifestyle appeal. But sunny weather and low case numbers are not the only things that Brisbane has going for it at the moment. According to the property advisers that ALIC turns to for market updates, Brisbane has experienced consistent growth over the last three years.

“We can’t give property advice, but we head hunt the best property advisers in the country,” said Davis. “We get them to present to us every fortnight. The market’s moved about 35% in three years in the housing market in Brisbane. It’s forecast to do another 60% over five years by some of these experts.”

His observations were that the demand from interstate purchasers had led to this growth, with the top end of the market particularly impacted.

“The high-end property market up there has gone through the roof in the last 6-12 months with all the higher income professionals heading up there,” he said. “They’ve been taking all the top end properties off the market and making it very hard for the Queenslanders to upgrade properties to the better suburbs.”

Throughout the course of his own house hunting, he has witnessed properties sell for $1 million higher than the price guide, making it extremely difficult to accurately value the market.

“It’s made it really hard to get into the market for people up there,” he said. “Houses have been selling extremely quickly.

“No-one could really value properties over the last six months up there because the movement was so quick, and the uplift was so fast that it was extremely hard to understand what a true value was.”

He said FOMO was a major factor for this growth despite having slowed down somewhat over the past few weeks.

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“The New-South-Welshmen and the Victorians have gotten back into their standard lifestyle. The FOMO isn’t as drastic,” he said. “Everybody was buying up there and down here in Melbourne because the fear of missing out was that the market would keep going and they couldn’t go and spend their money interstate or overseas. Everybody was buying up there as investments, or to move up there or down here in holiday areas.

“COVID has led to the Queensland market going through the roof.”

While he made it clear that he was not a property expert and could not offer property market advice, he said it was his feeling that by the time the 2032 Olympics came around, the Brisbane property market would be within 10% of the Melbourne market.

By moving to Brisbane, Davis will also set up a Queensland office for ALIC as part of the firm’s plan to expand nationally. He said the business aimed to increase from 10 brokers to 60 over the next four to five years and triple its yearly volumes to $3 billion.

“We’re very well known in Victoria, but not that well known nationally,” he said. “We’re about to hit $1 billion this year for first time.”

After he establishes the business in QLD, the next part of its growth plan will be to open up an office in Western Sydney. He said for an investment lending firm, having a national footprint was important.

“We’re an investment lending firm and we buy nationally,” he said. “I’ve always believed you need to have a national brand. With the market forecast and with the Olympics in 2032, as a broker, having a presence in interstate markets other than the market you are currently working is critical in my eyes.”

But he said that brokers who wanted to expand to new geographical locations didn’t necessarily need to move in order to do so.

“COVID has taught us that we can do it from anywhere,” he said.

He said having buyers’ agents on the ground in each location a broker services can help when it comes to investment lending.