By Herron Todd White
April 2020

Lismore/Casino/Kyogle Property Update

“The sugar’s only sweetness,

Salt is ocean tears

And you were my only weakness

For years and years and years

You little hardiplank cladded beauty

You were hiding in a cul-de-sac

Now my mind is gone completely

Write up and sign the contract

And now you’re mine!”

For some, the drive of owning their first home or upgrading is just like candy…something fresh and delicious.

We’ll set aside comment around COVID-19 for the moment. Despite its significance, there remains uncertainty about the fallout as at the time of writing.

For the inland areas of the Northern Rivers, including the regional city of Lismore and the nearby towns of Casino and Kyogle, the key ingredient for any real estate is generally affordability with population growth (people moving into the area) creating the demand. To score a brand new home for around $500,000 to $600,000 (Lismore City) or $400,000 to $450,000 (Casino and Kyogle) is relatively rare when considering the 30 minute drive to the coast where the prices rise exponentially for the same product.

At a time when interest rates are at record lows, one would think that first home buyers and upgraders would be chomping at the bit, especially now that lenders are fighting for more clients on their books.

As always, the level of interest rates are the catalyst for piquing interest in the general populace in these parts.

Locally, the main drivers are seen to be population growth and employment within the key industries established in Lismore City, Casino and Kyogle. What must also be mentioned is the relative steadiness in the market. Even during the fearsome days of the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 and the slowdown experienced in the major metropolitan cities of Australia during 2018 and 2019, Lismore City, Casino and Kyogle appeared to weather the storm and remain resilient. Yes, sales activity slowed, but we did not see overly significant falls in market value Lismore City has always been regarded as the commercial centre for the Northern Rivers with an array of shopping centres, cafes, local retail shops, education (Southern Cross University), banking and business centres, industry etc. The health sector has had a significant boost in the past few years with the significant upgrade and extension of Lismore Base Hospital.

These sectors provide the economic base for much of the employment in the area and opportunities for business owners, however this has been challenged of late by the increasing popularity of Ballina on the east coast.

We must not forget either the influence of the agricultural and horticultural industry that surrounds Lismore City which provides opportunities and employment as well.

Casino township has relied heavily on the abattoir that serves the wide, surrounding rural enterprises and continues to evolve into other sections of the agricultural market. Richmond Valley Council’s heavy investment in the local saleyards is a testament to the confidence in the rural sector. Other opportunities are in their infancy but are considered to be promising, such as the medicinal cannabis facility which is expected to create 300 direct and indirect jobs in the Northern Rivers region.

Further west of Casino in the rural area of Tabulam, we have a large blueberry farm enterprise which provides ample seasonal work for travellers and backpackers and the local population.

Kyogle’s established cattle grazing, dairy farming and forestry are the primary industries for the region but there is also the tourism aspect with Kyogle being known as the gateway to the rainforests and is surrounded by World Heritage listed national parks including the Border Ranges and Toonumbar National Parks.

So how does this affect real estate?. Well…where there is employment, buyers will come. First home buyers will be concentrating on price point (Lismore City, say $250,000 to $350,000; Casino and Kyogle, say $175,000 to $275,000).

Established families and business owners tend to reside in the upgraders sector and would be looking at generally a new product (Lismore City, say $450,000 to $650,0000; Casino and Kyogle, say $400,000 to $500,000).

We also note the emergence of smaller detached duplex sites with a modern dwelling or townhouse. This is becoming rather popular in Lismore City as well as Casino and Kyogle. Their main feature? They are affordable without losing too much on the quality and size of the main residence and less maintenance (lawns are shrinking!).

It will be interesting to see how the soon to be fully developed Pacific Highway will affect this inland region of Lismore, Casino and Kyogle. It will certainly make travel along the coast much quicker and safer. Will this bring more home buyers into the region? More people looking for work? Either way, all three Councils (Lismore City, Richmond Valley Council and Kyogle Council) will need to be forward thinking and prepared.

Speak with a Lismore Mortgage Broker today.

Ballina Property Update

The market drivers within the sought after coastal areas of the Ballina Shire are typically influenced by the performance of capital city markets, most notably the Sydney and Melbourne markets and to a lesser extent, the Brisbane and coastal southeast Queensland markets. Whilst the demand resulting from these capital city markets has typically been concentrated in the more desirable areas of Byron Bay and the surrounding localities, in more recent years potential purchasers have expanded their searches into the desirable areas of the Ballina Shire – most notably Lennox Head, Skennars Head and East Ballina, as well as the rural localities of Newrybar, Brooklet, Fernleigh and Tintenbar.

Population pressures have also had an influence on the Ballina Shire in recent times, with estates in Lennox Head, Ballina Heights, Cumbalum and Wollongbar catering to this demand. The supply of land throughout these localities represents good value for many purchasers including first home buyers compared to the availability of land throughout the Byron Shire. Strong rental demand is also influencing the market, especially in coastal localities, with many new builds incorporating a self-contained studio or granny flat to cater for this demand and to provide additional rental income.

Coffs Harbour Property Update

The main driver of the Coffs Coast market is population growth. The continual growth can be attributed to the traditional housing market role (attracting families and retirees from the greater Sydney and metropolitan areas further south), combined with the many natural assets, relatively diverse industrial base, growing health and education sectors plus transport infrastructure such as roads, airport and rail link. This means the area is not entirely dependent on tourism which makes it a less risky investment with a higher liveability factor than some other coastal towns.

The proposed Pacific Highway bypass which is expected to start by the end of 2020 will have a significant injection into the local economy and increase short to medium term rental demand.

The region to the south of Coffs Harbour encompassing Urunga, Valla, Valla Beach, Nambucca Heads and Macksville have all experienced a surge in activity over recent years driven by the Pacific Highway upgrade between Warrell Creek and Raleigh seeing strong rental demand and buyer demand under $650,000.

Another area of strong performance is the historic rural township of Bellingen being popular with Sydney and greater metropolitan buyers looking for the green change. In general, the Coffs Coast has seen strong performance in all sectors of the market, not being isolated to any particular locality or product type. There is a diverse type of product available from suburban family homes to prestige beachside properties or rural lifestyle options from small acreage close to town to larger rural holdings all within a 45 minute drive of Coffs Harbour.

The region is seen as a solid investment opportunity offering diverse property outcomes supported by a range of lifestyle choices, services and good regional access. The strong levels of demand from buyers has been driven by investors and owner-occupiers looking to take advantage of these lifestyle factors, consistent long-term capital growth, expanding work base and strong rental returns, all of which are underpinned by the low interest rate climate experienced over recent years.

Speak with a Coffs Harbour Mortgage Broker today.

Albury Property Update

The Albury-Wodonga region boasts around 110,000 people, enjoying one of the most vibrant cross-state regions combining all the Murray River has to offer and beyond north and south of the New South Wales and Victorian borders. The drivers of the property market are affordability, access to finance, lifestyle, tourism and the buoyancy or otherwise of the Melbourne property market. Different purchasers behave and benefit accordingly.

First home owners have options due to a good supply of existing entry level stock and competitive house and land packages from a range of builders in new suburbs on both sides of the border. Similarly the upgrading or relocating family in the region can buy existing stock, build or in many cases buy to occupy and also purchase an investment property, often positively geared. As the regional property market has proven to be a long game, the downsizers, whether local or relocating, receive the benefit of long term growth and a good choice of lower maintenance homes with room for the van or golf buggy.

Over the past few years, both Albury City Council and Wodonga City Council have undertaken large scale redevelopment projects aimed at revitalising city centres and involving the community in local events, the idea being that the cross city vibe should be complementary rather than us and them. Wodonga is certainly gaining ground with strong sales activity and good growth as locals and visitors alike tap into the north-east offering.

The local outlook is much the same as the attitude of the region, positive, proactive, productive and steadily more diverse. It is all here bar the beach and people tend to focus on the things they can change, which from a property perspective is the ability to move within the market and invest further in the market.

TNo one external big picture factor dominates as low volatility goes hand in hand with stable markets, however as we reach submission deadline, the effects of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic may reach and influence all drivers of all markets.

Tamworth Property Update

The two biggest drivers of the Tamworth market at the moment are the historically low interest rates and the drought, which despite recent rain has on-going impacts. The past few years of drought have put a strain on the town’s water supply which despite recent rain has not increased by any significant amount. After having been on water restrictions for over 12 months, residents are wondering whether or not there is a long term solution for the future with Tamworth’s population expected to hit 100,000 by 2040. While there are plans in place with a new dam and pipeline underway, confidence will remain low until these projects are completed. The economic effect of the drought saw less money coming into the property market which resulted in a slow-down. Tamworth as a whole did not see a decline in property values, but we did see an increase in days on market, where houses that traditionally sold in one to two months were taking three to four.

It is not all doom and gloom for Tamworth as the city still offers plenty of appeal for residents, with strong employment opportunities, relatively cheap housing and good services and amenities available. Tamworth is a major regional centre and offers quality schools, good health services and a large pool of employment opportunities with blue collar, white collar and everything in between catered for. On top of this, a modern four-bedroom, two-bathroom, brick veneer dwelling can be had for under $400,000 (depending on the suburb), making Tamworth very attractive to those finding themselves priced out of the larger cities. This combined with recent rain and low interest rates has local agents reporting less days on market for sales and more buyer enquiry than experienced in recent months (prior to the rain). This higher buyer interest has not yet resulted in an increase in house values.

The government’s First Home Super Saver and First Home Loan Deposit schemes have seen first home buyers become more active in the Tamworth market. Along with the low interest rates we are seeing more people selling to first home buyers and then upgrading, typically leaving South Tamworth, West Tamworth, Hillvue, Oxley Vale and Westdale and moving to Calala, North and East Tamworth, Moore Creek, Daruka and newer parts of Hillvue. Increased confidence in the local economy after the recent rain as well as low interest rates suggest that these trends will continue in the short to medium term. This may be thrown completely out of the window with the current COVID-19 pandemic, but excluding this we expect a slight increase in the property market over 2020.  

Speak with a Tamworth Mortgage Broker today.

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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is correct at the time of publishing and is subject to change. It is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, Smartline recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Smartline recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.