INTERSTATE investors have snapped up $10 million worth of new homes in the Reeves Estate.
The council-owned subdivision was first placed on the market in September 2010, but sales of the 51 lots were slow, with just three selling.
However, in August last year, Gold Coast development firm Real Gold Pty Ltd purchased 15 of the lots and has since bought another 12.
A quick Google search reveals Real Gold has an office in Mudgeeraba, but there is no contact number listed for the business.
Real Gold is reportedly part of Members Alliance, a property investment company with offices in each of the major cities.
The new homes are being built by Neil Lyford of Image Building.
He says all 27 of the four bedroom homes have been sold for between $350,000 and $370,000, with the first 10 already under construction.
Mr Lyford, who has worked as a builder for more than 27 years, said the quick take up of the homes was due to a chronic under supply of contemporary family homes in Gloucester.
He said there was strong demand for property in the region - underpinned by the growing mining and resources sector.
“There has been very little new product of this calibre introduced in Gloucester in recent years, despite solid demand due to the mining and resources boom which has really put the Hunter Valley and surrounds on the map for investors,” he said.
“This new residential enclave is one of the largest new housing developments taking place in Gloucester, and as such it has attracted the interest of purchasers from as far afield as Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
“While all homes have sold to interstate investors, the properties were designed with owner-occupiers in mind and when we start the tenanting process in the coming weeks I expect that locals will jump at the opportunity to live in a brand new home.”
But the construction of the new homes has raised the ire of many in the Gloucester community, not least those already living in the Reeves Estate.
Phillip Schulz and his wife Kerry spent months agonising whether to purchase a block in the estate.
“After much deliberation and consideration we bought a lot in Reeves Estate which was advertised to us as Gloucester’s newest premier housing estate and built our dream home,” Phillip said.
“We expected that Reeves Estate would develop slowly into a fresh and vibrant area with quality homes as the other new housing estates around Gloucester have.
“We only recently found out that council started looking for developers to buy lots in the estate, to cover loan commitments, soon after we purchased last year.”
Mr Schulz said it was only the start of the problems.
“We were initially told by council that 15 house and land packages were being developed, which we had no objection to,” he said.
“On investigation, we found out these were in fact investment properties for rent.
“The number of rental properties then escalated to 27.
“We have serious reservations about the current activity and where Reeves Estate is headed. We have been trampled over by the building company involved.
“We moved to our new house the day they started construction and it has been an absolute nightmare since.
“We have 11 houses being built around us with a 60-day completion timetable.”
Commenting on the Advocate’s Facebook page, another resident Adam Wade expressed his fury over council’s handling of the matter.
“What studies have they done on the impact that this could do to Gloucester? None. Have they done a feasibility study? No. What type of people will fill these homes?” he wrote.
“They just want to solve a money problem … but will destroy Gloucester, this estate and the families that have already made their homes there in the process.”
Council held a special meeting to address some of the community’s concerns on July 31.
It resolved to postpone further sales in the estate until it could confirm the quality of the housing being constructed, variations in design plans and whether it could be engaged as the certifying authority.
Mr Schulz said there were also concerns about the safety of some of the work sites in the estate.
“They park semi trailers in our street for three days at a time blocking one lane of traffic,” he said.
“We receive no help from council because the builders are using private certifiers from Forster.”
In a report to councillors, general manager Danny Green said the meeting had been called after council became aware of rumours of low income housing being constructed at the estate.
“At the special meeting … citizens presented in opposition to allowing the balance of the lots to be optioned for further land and house packages,” Mr Green wrote.
“Councillors resolved to postpone further sales in the estate until we can confirm the quality of housing constructed, variations in design plans and whether council can be utilised as the certifying authority.
“Legal advice confirms that council is not able to discriminate between buyers as the offer and acceptance dictum operates. We would therefore need to cease sales to everyone and not just the developer.
“We could, however, allow no further options to be approved to the developer. The developer has advised that this would not enable him to package appropriately, that he therefore would not put such packages together with the result that sales would cease.”
Mr Green has recommended councillors agree to the offer of Real Gold and place call options on the balance of the unsold lots in the Reeves Estate for a period of 120 days.
Mr Schulz said council had abandoned the three families already living in the estate.
“We’re not happy that the families who purchased lots from council in good faith are to be encased by 48 properties in a rental village,” he said.
“Our property value has already plummeted. Two of the councillors at the special meeting felt council had a moral obligation to us, after advertising the estate as a premier housing estate, but all the other councillors present seemed to have no concerns for our situation.
“We want council to block the sale of the remaining lots, to at least give Reeves Estate the chance to re-establish itself into a ‘normal’ small country town housing estate.”
Builder Neil Lyford said the first 10 homes in the development were expected to be tenanted within the next month.
“The homes will be leased on the open market, with all applicants considered,” he said.
“The properties feature a choice of nine different designs which will appeal to a wide range of tenants.”
The remaining 17 homes are currently with council for development approval and are expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Mr Lyford said all the homes were brick veneer with four bedrooms, a double lock-up garage and open plan living spaces, along with outdoor entertainment areas.
The homes are expected to reap about $340 to $360 per week in rent for their owners but Mr Schulz is not so certain.
“What have they told their investors? What mining and resource boom? Hunter Valley mining is in decline,” he said.
“Will locals jump at the chance of paying rents of $350 per week?”