Flooding in eastern Australia prompts property investors to ask ‘relevant’ questions

When floodwaters began to recede in southeast Queensland, estate agent Daniel Burrell noticed a dramatic change in the queries of potential investors.

“It started to raise the questions, ‘This flood? Is it in a flood zone? What happened in 2022? What happened in 2011?'” Burrell said. .

“They even go back so far now, just asking about properties and what happened to them.”

The Toowoomba estate agent said that although the town has escaped major flooding this year, the issue has become a major concern for buyers not only concerned about potential damage but also the cost of insurance in flood-prone areas.

“Not having to worry about getting insurance that can handle the floods or making sure they have enough money to cover them… that’s reassuring for them,” Mr Burrell said.

Boycotted areas

The flood is also changing the preferences of interstate buyers looking for property in Brisbane, as two major floods in 11 years have given them pause.

“Two weeks ago they were saying, ‘I’m fine with it being low risk. [flood] area,” said buyers’ attorney Wendy Russell.

Buyers’ agent Wendy Russell says she expects buyers to avoid flood-prone areas in the short term. (Provided: Wendy Russell)

Climate risk analyst and managing director of Climate Valuation, Karl Mallon, said that with extreme weather events becoming more frequent, “savvy shoppers” were now starting to “ask very relevant questions”.

“They want to understand the impacts of climate change on a property, whether it’s flooding, sea level rise, wildfires.”

Mr Mallon said buyers concerned about natural disasters should ask some questions.

“Is it in a floodplain? How often does the flood return? Is the building high above the ground? When was it built? he said.

A flooded street in Milton in Brisbane
There are calls to help people in flood-prone areas adapt to climate change with more frequent flooding.(ABC News: Michael Lloyd)

Climate Change Concerns

CoreLogic property data analyst Eliza Owen said that based on the 2011 floods in Brisbane, property prices are likely to fall in the short term.

But climate change could further exacerbate buyers’ worries.

“And, of course, that’s one of the implications of climate change, so I think these kinds of events have the ability to really change demands the more frequent they are.”

CoreLogic's head of research, Eliza Owen, stands outside in a street.
Eliza Owen, Head of Research at CoreLogic.(ABC News: John Gunn)

Mr Mallon said once the cleanup is complete, authorities should also think about what should happen to people whose homes were uninsured.

“We really should be thinking about grants to retrofit these buildings to be climate change ready.”

Investor demand

While investors might avoid flood-prone areas for the time being, Ms Russell had doubts about how long that move would last.

“There are still a lot of investors looking to buy in Brisbane. The Olympics have been a huge driver for investors,” Ms Russell said.

“I believe in the future people will forget and then it will be business as usual with the property.”

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