Cairns is a relatively new city and most of the building happened in three distinct phases
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Phase One - This would have happened in the very late 1970’s and early 1980's. The unit blocks that were built were either single level or two storey. They tended to be on smaller blocks, and I will guess that at this time there were a lot of Duplex pairs that were built.

These are concentrated in Edge Hill mainly. We personally have just one property in Edge Hill, and it is one of our least favourite ones. Some of the reasons include - the height of the ceilings. They are built to 12 blocks high, where as the standard is now 13. This means if you are a tall person, you don't want to be putting your hands in the air whilst the ceiling fan is on. The plumbing and wiring is now 30 plus years old and many need to have this upgraded. The kitchens and bathrooms are original, and you can't really get away with just changing the taps and handles to make it pretty.

The body corporates generally didn't start to collect money for future works until the mid-1990's and by this stage many were 20 years old and had not much done to them. It is a constant battle at the property we own to balance collecting enough levies and improving the property. Although Edge Hill is a very popular suburb as it has the Botanical Gardens and the Village - the rents aren't higher. In fact, sometimes it is actually lower than the high-density places we have in Manunda.

The next building phase was between 1988 – 1995, and this was your bomb proof but certainly not pretty developments. This includes the houses you will find in White Rock, Woree and Brinsmead to name a few. These were constructed with besser blocks and most of them finished to a budget finish - the besser blocks weren't rendered internally or externally, the kitchens and bathrooms were basic in design and fit out and the fixtures and fittings were cheap.

The unit developments of this era were mainly in the 5km CBD circle. This is up to Edge Hill, around to Whitfield and south to Woree. There were some developments at the northern beaches and some further south down to Edmonton, but the bulk were in the Manunda, Manoora and Whitfield area. These were up to a maximum of three stories high. The size ranged from a simple 4 pack up to 45 units. There were also some duplex pair developments that were done but if they could squeeze more onto the block - they did.

During the rise of the last property cycle, the units that were built in the first and second building phase were pretty much bundled together and sold for about the same price.

The last building phase happened between 2003 - 2008. This was cut short by the GFC - it literally ground to a halt overnight and the rest is history. These developments were nice and on a much bigger and grander scale. We had the development along the northern beaches, the Esplanade in the City and other inner-city suburbs. We also had the mega developments like The Lakes Resort and Cairns One. Housing was also on a much grander scale and to a much higher specification. There were very few small developments and even fewer duplex pairs. I guess the economies of scale just weren't there.

Obviously, there were slight differences for location and fit out but generally this would be the price near the peak of the market in 2008:

  • Studio Apartments - $80 - 100,000 - this is the small ones at Chester Court, Jensen Street and even the motel style units at Anderson Road
  • Bedsit Units $110 - 115,000 - this is the type that can be found at 85 Birch, 93 Birch and 55 McCormack Street
  • One-bedroom units - $150 - 170,000 - the better the presentation the better the price
  • Two-bedroom units - $220 - 240,000 - I know it is difficult to believe but you really couldn't buy a crappy one for $200,000
  • Duplex Pairs - $500,000 plus. Yes, these are the same duplex pairs I wrote about recently that if you shopped around you could buy for $400,000 and under
  • Houses - $300,000 plus. This would be for a basic three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in the not so good areas

Now to put this into context for today’s market as it stands in December 2019:

  • Studio Apartments - $65 - $75,000  if you hunt around you may even get one lower  ​
  • Bedsit Units $85,000 - but the sellers are now holding out for $90,000
  • One-bedroom units - $905- $105,000 - but a one bedroom loft townhouse that is bigger is $125,000
  • Two bedroom units - $95 - 140,000 - there is potentially $100,000 capital gains to be made  ​
  • Duplex Pairs - $300 - $450,000 - We sold one in Manoora for $410,000 recently
  • Houses - $250 - 300,000 - this is for your basic home in Woree, White Rock, Manunda, Manoora etc


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