Annabel Bowles

Tropic Now journalist

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Heads up house-hunters: now's the time to buy


It’s now cheaper to buy a property than it is to rent in Cairns. 

For house hunters – particularly first home buyers – the financial planets have aligned.

A combination of factors and market forces is fuelling strong sales activity in the Far North, including low interest rates, upward pressure on rents due to record low vacancy rates and a treasure chest of potential government grants on offer.

According to the latest Cairns Watch report by Herron Todd White, sale volumes for houses and units in Cairns have "regained the levels that were in existence prior to COVID-19," leading to faster sales periods and a small rise in prices.

Check out Tropic Now’s special report below comparing the cost of renting vs buying in five suburbs across Cairns, or dig into our story on Cairns’ record low 1.5% rental vacancy rate.



Five properties that are cheaper to buy than rent

Tropic Now has crunched the numbers on five properties in a range of suburbs across Cairns.

And it's clear that the time is right to buy a home or apartment – particularly for first time buyers with access to a range of government grants. 

The figures below are based on realestate.com.au median house and apartment prices in each suburb. Mortgage repayments are calculated using Cairns Bank's fixed rate of 2.99% and based on principal plus interest repayments over both a 30-year and 25-year loan term.

We've also incorporated some government fees and charges and a 10% deposit into the figures below.

Unless you're a first home buyer who's eligible for the Federal Government's First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, you'll also need to factor in the cost of mortgage insurance if your deposit is under 20% of the purchase price.


3-bedroom house in Edmonton

Listed for sale at $319,000

Rent

$365/week

Mortgage

$285/week over 30-year loan term

$321/week over 25-year loan term

3-bedroom house in Smithfield

Listed for sale at $370,000

Rent

$425/week

Mortgage

$333/week over 30-year loan term

$375/week over 25-year loan term

2-bedroom unit in Manoora

Listed for sale at $155,000

Rent

$283/week

Mortgage

$139/week over 30-year loan term

$156/week over 25-year loan term

1-bedroom unit in Cairns North

Listed for sale at $142,500

Rent

$290/week

Mortgage

$127/week over 30-year loan term

$143/week over 25-year loan term

4-bedroom house in Trinity Beach

Listed for sale at $510,000

Rent

$500/week

Mortgage

$461/week over 30-year loan term

$519/week over 25-year loan term


Cairns Bank CEO Peter Phillips told Tropic Now “a number of planets have aligned” to create an ideal market for buyers, particularly first home buyers. 

“Just buy. It’s an ideal time right now, due to a combination of things," he said.

“Interest rates are relatively low, rent prices are relatively high, and then you have the government incentives too. 

“Houses are still quite affordable in Cairns, and the main challenge is probably finding the right house and getting in in time."

Mr Phillips advises those who are thinking about taking the leap into homeownership to come into Cairns Bank and have a chat. 

“A number of people are just not certain whether they’re able to do this, but it’s not as scary as it seems if you’ve got the right advisors,” he said. 

“We can explain to you what you need to do, so you can go out into the market with confidence and find the house that you want and that you can afford.”

Botanica Property Group Director Robert Wallace also told Tropic Now “there’s never been a better time to buy a house in Cairns.” 

“Those wanting to buy their first home would be crazy not to take advantage of all of the government incentives at the moment, like HomeBuilder and the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme,” he said. 

“We’re taking calls daily from people in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities wanting to move to a regional area.

“They’re also seeing that properties in the Cairns market are selling very quickly, with lots of local people also wanting to buy their first home here.”