Step right up: Property spruiker hits streets

A New Farm real estate agent is stopping people in the streets in search of potential buyers, in a desperate attempt to curb a slump in Brisbane’s unit and townhouse market.

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"Do you want to buy an apartment?" LJ Hooker principal agent Brett Greensill asked a passerby on Brunswick Street.

"It’s fact, buyers just aren’t as thick on the ground and it’s getting harder and harder to sell," Mr Greensill said.

In sharp contrast to the market high in last year’s first quarter, demand and price growth has slowed, leaving properties stranded on the market for more than three months in inner-city Brisbane suburbs.

Hiking interest rates, volalility in the stock market and trends in overseas’ markets have deterred buyers according to figures released by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ).

REIQ figures released today indicated a 1.5 per cent drop in median unit prices between January and March this year.

"We have had an apartment in Newstead Terraces on the market since January and over that time the price has reduced from $500,000 to $485,000 and finally to $450,000," Mr Greensill said.

However REIQ chairman Peter McGrath said current figures reflect historical averages for the year’s first quarter.

"Brisbane is coming down off a high, so to speak … the market is simply returning to normal," Mr McGrath said.

Yet Mr McGrath conceded investor demand has cooled recently as servicing increasing loan repayments becomes more difficult.

"Investors appear to be staying out of the market until rents reach a level where they match the increase in interest rates and they are confident that the market has definitely stabilised," he said.

The trend has been felt hardest within the CBD, where apartments in complexes on Charlotte Street have remained unsold for four months.

"It is taking 30 days longer to sell inner-city apartments because investors are bowing out," LJ Hooker Brisbane Central principal agent Alexandra Rutherford said.

Prices have been scaled back accordingly Ms Rutherford said.

"We have had apartments priced at $480,000 reduced to $460,000 and some reduced to $420,000."

However, Mr McGrath warned real estate agents against judging the current market against last year’s anomoly.

"I don’t think some agents realised how good it was last year, thinking. it could last forever. Now we are just moving back to a more traditional market," he said.