Luxury waterfront properties to be auctioned after residents dodge rates

Almost $19 million worth of properties, including luxury waterfront residences, will be auctioned by Gold Coast Council as a “last resort” to recover owners’ unpaid rates.

Many of the properties have been owned for decades, back when they cost as little as $50,000 to $400,000, but market valuations show they now could be worth seven-figure sums.

In a public notice, the council has scheduled 22 properties, including ocean-view apartments and canal-side family homes, for auction at a Southport conference centre on November 3.

A notice of auction is the last step in a six-stage process, including written reminders and phone calls from council, and contact from a debt recovery agency, to obtain rates that have been wholly or partly outstanding for up to three years.

The list of properties, from Mermaid Waters, Broadbeach, Hope Island, Burleigh Heads, Surfers Paradise, Clear Island Waters, Coolangatta and more, has been published on the council’s website and was last updated on October 14. Nine has chosen not disclose the street addresses.

A Mermaid Beach house, in a street just back from the waterfront, is also on the public notice for a scheduled auction. (Pricefinder/Domain)

Domain’s Pricefinder data for each of the residences shows the total estimated worth, based on current market conditions, is $18.937 million.

However, would-be buyers are warned they will not be able to inspect the homes because council does not have possession and, under the terms, they will be auctioned “as is”.

According to the council notice, the auctions will go ahead unless the owners pay the amount in arrears. However, if an owner clears the debt, including any costs incurred, the auction will be withdrawn. For that reason, council advises – in the fine print – that anyone interested in purchasing a property to check the list closer to November 3.

Conditions of sale includes that the buyer is responsible for gaining vacant possession, council can set a reserve price and also ask buyers for evidence of their capacity to pay.

Gold Coast Council said in a statement to Nine that an auction “is always used as a last resort for the City to recover overdue rates and charges”.

“The owners of the land involved in this action may feel as if they are being adversely impacted,” the statement said. “However, ample opportunity has been provided for the owner to satisfy the overdue rates and other ratepayers of the City can feel assured that that Council is diligently collecting overdue rates and charges.”

Homeowners are able to meet obligations up until the last moment to prevent a sale.

“Once Council resolves to sell the land, the owner has up to the date of the auction to make payment in full to stop the property proceeding to auction,” the statement said.

Council told Nine that since August last year, 158 properties had been identified for public auctions due to unpaid rates, but only 33 progressed to advertising stage and just two went under the hammer.

Some of the properties are in luxury locations by the water, but were not purchased for seven-figure sums. However, they could be worth that much now. (Pricefinder/Domain)

Among the homes scheduled for the November 3 auctions, in the auditorium at the SCC Conference Centre in Southport, is a Coolangatta apartment which has been owned by a couple for 42 years.

A waterfront house in Bundall, owned since 1993, cost $325,000 but is estimated to be now worth $1.85 million, Pricefinder valuations shows.

A residence on a 4000-square-metre block in Nerang has been held for 32 years.

A Hope Island waterfront house is one of the properties on the list with the shortest period of ownership. The home cost $1.139 million five years ago, before the owners fell into arrears with council.

A Broadbeach apartment on Oracle Boulevard, a buzzing dining precinct by the ocean, bought for $540,000 is estimated to be worth $1.24 million after 16 years of ownership.

According to the Queensland Ombudsman, councils can recover outstanding rates through legal proceedings and may auction a property if the rates have been unpaid for three years.

The ombudsman also advises that councils can provide payment plans and so residents should immediately contact their council if they are having trouble paying their rates.

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