By Herron Todd White
July 2020

Lismore/Casino/Kyogle Property Update

Little has changed from 12 months ago in terms of what one can score with a lazy $700,000, however the mixture of product may have varied slightly, particularly in the more regional areas of the Richmond Valley and Kyogle Council areas.

For example, consider the following:

Ten $70,000 (or less) steep timber vacant 40 hectare bush blocks in the rural localities of Drake or Tabulam; or

Five $125,000 to $135,000 standard vacant residential blocks in Casino or Kyogle. These would be relatively flat but may be slightly more than $125,000 individually, so a package deal of say five at the nice round figure of $130,000 each would be hard for a vendor to pass up in the current subdued market thanks to COVID-19.

Alternatively, secure a near new, four-bedroom, two- bathroom dwelling with a double garage for around $450,000 to $500,000 and throw in an original two-bedroom,one-bathroom brick unit with carport for circa $150,000 to $200,000.

There are not too many residential properties within Casino or Kyogle township that would use up the whole $700,000 in one transaction, however those that do are typically found in the nearby rural residential estates and usually deliver the full quota of features including air-conditioning, good quality appointments, pool, established landscaping or a full renovation

These rural residential properties are generally in close proximity to the town centres of Casino, Kyogle and Lismore City. Typically, such properties would comprise lots ranging in size from 4000 square metres to five hectares.

Semi-remote rural localities with properties on lots from 40 hectares to even 100 hectares may be purchased for under $700,000 and still provide semi-modern homes with established ancillary improvements. However, distance and maintenance of the land are factors that any potential purchaser must consider.

Within Lismore City, the lazy $700,000 is somewhat more restricted in its purchasing power, however opportunities still abound. Good quality level vacant residential lots are around the $250,000 to $285,000 mark in the new, developing residential estates… so buy two and possibly use the balance as a deposit for a house to be built on each of the lots, or maybe use the balance to purchase one of the steeper vacant blocks for around $125,000 to $135,000 (just keep in mind that your building costs will be significantly higher!).

It is still possible to find two residential house properties for around $350,000 each, however they are likely to be located in a flood prone area, need some cosmetic attention or front a busy road.

There are a number of two-bedroom, one bathroom, brick and tile residential units with single carports available within reasonable proximity to shopping and educational facilities in Lismore City which have an expected price range of $185,000 to $225,000 and attract a rent of around $250 to $275 per week.

Failing that, and if you so wish, $700,000 would go a long way to fully, or near fully, acquiring a brand new four or five-bedroom, two-bathroom, double garage residence in the modern residential estates of Goonellabah or Lismore Heights (where most of the new build action is) with pool and established landscaping. The rental assessments can vary widely depending on features, but expect something in the order of $550 per week.

At present, the market is still in the early stages of recovery from COVID-19, however there are encouraging signs with genuine enquiry improving (as real estate agents advise) and if you are one of those in the fortunate position of ticking all the boxes for the lender as a first home buyer or investor?? Wow! When are you ever going to get a better chance to buy real estate at ridiculously low interest rates which are unlikely to rise for some time yet as the powers that be try to kick start the economy from out of the doldrums?

Speak with a Lismore Mortgage Broker today.

Byron Bay Property Update

The recent relaxation of travel restrictions and gatherings in public has given the Byron Shire a much-needed confidence boost. Although any tangible improvement in the local economy is yet to be realised in the property market, local agents remain optimistic about the long term growth of the property market in Byron Bay and surrounds and this leads us to consider where it is possible to park $700,000 on a property in the Byron Shire at present.

If Byron Bay is your cup of tea, then count out the $700,000, raid the kids’ piggy banks and check under the couch for any loose change, because you are going to need it. Whilst it is not quite that bad, the options are pretty restricted within Byron Bay proper. Most properties start at prices well above $700,000 but if that is the limit of your budget, it is still possible to pick up an early 1990’s threebedroom townhouse on the north-west edge of town in the $650,000 to $700,000 price range. However, instead of a gentle stroll to the beach with a towel draped over your shoulder, it will be necessary to purchase a bike and ride the ten minutes to the beach instead.

Looking elsewhere in the shire, the pickings become a little easier at Ocean Shores which offers reasonable proximity to beaches, albeit of a less well regarded standard than the acclaimed beaches of Byron Bay. Nevertheless, it is possible to find a wider choice of property in Ocean Shores that includes a sprinkling of detached, older style houses and relatively modern townhouses and villas.

Further afield, Mullumbimby offers a small opportunity to find an older style cottage but with the proviso that additional funds would be required to carry out update works as $700,000 will only buy the most basic standard of house. If land banking is more your cup of tea, it is still possible to find the odd block of land in the outer areas of Mullumbimby in the price range of $450,000 to $500,000.

Ballina Property Update

The impact of the COVID-19 virus is yet to be realised by the local market, however is having a major impact on local businesses in the areas of Lennox Head, Ballina and surrounds. Verbal discussions with local agents indicate a decrease in interest in listed properties along with a decrease in vendors placing properties on the market. The North Coast of New South Wales has seen very little infections, with the majority of infections recorded in the Byron Bay locality. The closure of the Queensland border has had an impact on local business and in turn has had a negative impact on open houses in the local area. Agents remain positive for the North Coast due to the recent surge of people retreating from the major cities. This coupled with economic uncertainty has helped keep property prices inflated in the coastal areas.

So far, we are still in a fairly firm market with some recent sales in Lennox Head, Ballina and surrounding areas making good prices. Sales of vacant land in Epiq and surrounding areas have slowed slightly with some local builders indicating that land owners are postponing building till the economy stabilises.

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

Clarence Valley Property Update

Relaxing restrictions have seen the Clarence Valley return to a state of somewhat normality. The initially stalled figures, including sales rates and rentals, we saw at the beginning of the pandemic now appear to be slightly increasing across the Valley. Still somewhat driven by infrastructure improvements such as the new Pacific Highway, jail and other associated works, the Valley continues to have high demand for rentals and stock coming on to the market around or below median sale prices. Although the Valley is still a long way off its pre-pandemic state and potentially all the effects have not yet been felt, and with prices remaining relatively low compared to nearby centres, there remains a widespread sense of stability and confidence.

A $700,000 budget in Clarence Valley leaves you with a multitude of options whether you are chasing farmland, a residential allotment or a low maintenance unit. Very few sales surpass $700,000 in Grafton, Maclean, Townsend or Gulmarrad. As for Yamba, whilst $700,000 might assure you a freestanding dwelling, it will likely be lacking any view or amenity to the beaches. While a small unit nearer to the beaches may be possible, they have been rarely presented for sale of late.

In terms of return, Grafton has long been a solid rental performer with a steady demand for all rentals and this looks set to remain unchanged. As for coastal locations, permanent rental returns are somewhat more conservative but still need not be ruled out.

As for the best performing investment for $700,000, if a dwelling or unit isn’t quite for you, there is also the option to build. There are numerous rural vacant allotments for sale where one could buy land and establish a dwelling, or there are standard allotments where duplex construction is permissible.

With some uncertainty around the immediate future, a $700,000 budget presents an array of options with most looking as secure as they did pre-pandemic over the medium to long term.

Coffs Harbour Property Update

As the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions sees us all getting back to some normality, the property market rolls on as if it was unaware of recent social struggles. Similar to previous months, supply is still down in many sectors of the market with selling agents reporting good demand and increasing interest from the out of town city buyers looking to finally escape the chaos of urban life. Property values generally have remained steady to strong with only the prestige market of $1 million plus experiencing some weakening in activity, although it is not uncommon for this sector to seasonally fluctuate. We can look forward to the opening of state borders in time for school holidays together with the highly anticipated reinstatement of domestic flights which will help boost the Coffs Coast accessibility for domestic holiday seekers.

Now that you have come for a holiday and experienced the wonders of what this region has to offer, your thoughts turn to what you can buy for that lazy $700,000.

Like most regional locations, we have a diversity of product and it is very difficult to stereotype what you will get in any particular price range; it will depend on what you are looking for. Whether that be a large family home in the suburbs, a beachside cottage or rural retreat, the options are endless.

Let’s start with a suburban home. As the median house price in Coffs Harbour sits at around the $490,000 mark, it is easy to see that $700,000 will get you an above average property, typically a large family home, either modern or fully renovated, with four or five bedrooms, double car accommodation and pool set on a standard 600 to 1000 square metre site. Suburban areas such as Boambee East, Toormina, Bonville (East) and West Coffs Harbour are typical locations for this type of product and well suited to the family although not so much the investor as returns diminish with the higher values. These areas, like most of the region, have experienced gradual growth over recent years.

Moving closer to the beach, you get less home as the trade-off for higher land value. The more popular areas such as Sawtell and The Jetty precinct in Coffs Harbour have entry level prices of $700,000 which would purchase a more modest home or a cottage of 20 to 60 years of age which would require renovation, extension or demolition. You will find more modern unit products in these areas, although the more high quality larger product potentially with water views will set you back more than $700,000. These are very solid locations for investors as they are popular proven localities with underlying development potential, in many cases due to higher density zones.

The popular northern beachside suburbs also see fewer homes for $700,000, although there are some more modern estates where you can get a new four-bedroom, two-bathroom, double garage home on a standard block. The trade-off for these properties is that they are the more recently developed estates such as Sapphire Beach and Emerald Beach which are located along the Pacific Motorway. Typically the home closer to the beach with all the trimmings will set you back significantly more than $700,000. These areas have experienced good growth and with land to build the dream now becoming scarce, we are seeing premiums being achieved for modern developed products.

If you are looking for the green change and land size is important, $700,000 will get you into the market albeit at the lower end of the scale. Typically you will get one to five acre properties with aged homes of generally modest size and quality, although well located to towns and beaches in suburbs such as Korora, Bonville and Boambee which are very popular to have the best of both worlds. These properties are typically lifestyle purchases and not geared for investors, although Korora does offer the potential to subdivide five acre plus properties which could be worth land banking for future capital gain.

As an investor looking at the Coffs Harbour market, we’d be looking towards the multi accommodation properties where increased returns and capital gains will come from renovations and possible subdivision. Coffs Harbour has a strong population growth with affordable lifestyle benefits and the anticipated start (2021/22) of the proposed Pacific Motorway bypass will see a considerable uplift in the economy with pressure on the rental market during this construction stage. This is where the multi accommodation properties will come into their own, especially if they are furnished and aimed at the transient working population. As an example, a triplex in Toormina has been marketed at $625,000, comprising a single level 1980’s building with three two-bedroom, onebathroom units each with a garage and returning approximately $240 per week each or $37,440 annually. The potential here is to undertake some modest renovation work, say $5000 to $10,000 per unit to increase the rental returns by $40 to $50 per week each with a long term view of strata titling and selling separately. Not surprisingly, this property is under offer at full asking price.

Speak with a Coffs Harbour Mortgage Broker today.

Mid North Coast Property Update

The Mid North Coast continues to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic well from both a residential property and a health perspective. From a property standpoint, median price levels have remained steady over the past few months while stock levels are down dramatically. The reduction in stock levels is mainly due to potential vendors holding off listing until full confidence returns to the market. Agents advise that appraisal numbers are high but are not yet flowing through to listings. The reduction in listings has meant that there are fewer properties for potential purchasers to choose from which we believe is one reason prices have held steady over this period. We anticipate that listing numbers will grow over the next few months as confidence returns and more investors re-enter the market. Some investors have been staying out of the market due to a lack of confidence and owneroccupiers are the mainstay at the moment, but with current interest rates so attractive, we believe investors will return as confidence returns.

On the rental side we have seen a dramatic reduction in listings over the past few weeks as restrictions relax and interstate travel returns and many investors return their properties to short term accommodation stock, rather than retain them as longer term rentals. This will see vacancy rates returning to more normal long term levels after steep increases during the lockdown period as the reverse was happening.

We believe that the market along the MId North Coast should recover well after this COVID-19 induced slow down and perform well in the back half of this year as more city dwellers see the appeal of our beautiful slice of paradise.

Central Coast Region Property Update

NSW Central Coast Region Coronavirus Update

In line with many regions, there have been little reports of new cases of COVID-19 for some time. For many, life seems to be returning to normal. The tourist and visitor centres of Terrigal, The Entrance and Ettalong Beach have been busy for the past several weekends as crowds return.

The focus of attention now seems to be on recovery and future planning. Recovery will be as big a challenge as the restrictions and lockdowns themselves. Looking around, a number of businesses have suffered terribly and some have closed. But confidence is returning.

Tempering this new confidence, our health professionals are reminding us that we may not have seen the end of this with a second wave likely.

What will a lazy $700,000 buy in the Central Coast region of New South Wales

A quick snapshot of some suburbs where investing $700k seems to be a good idea:

Wadalba – a newish and still developing suburb located towards the northern end of the region with plenty of schools, shops and easy access to the M1 Motorway. A typical new project style dwelling, single level with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and double garage, recently sold for $690,000. With slightly older two-storey options available for similar prices, we consider these to represent good value for first home buyers and growing families finding the area to their liking. Values have remained static overall over the year, so buying for quick financial gain isn’t great and returns are estimated at around the 4.5 to five per cent mark which is acceptable. Comparable suburbs to Wadalba include Hamlyn Terrace and Woongarrah.

The Entrance – one of the region’s older suburbs which sits between the ocean and lake. It is the day tripper and visitor centre at the northern end of our region. Although there is a large permanent and long term occupant population (renters account for approximately 60 per cent of the area’s occupants), the area is very popular with the weekender market. Units prevail in the town centre due to the ocean and lake views, shops and beach. We note that $700,000 can buy a twobedroom unit with views within the town centre. But $700,000 is heading towards the higher end of unit values at The Entrance and we feel the more attractive options would be in the $350,000 to $400,000 price range for older units with lesser views. This price range has been more consistent in terms of price stability and returns which seem to be around the 4.5 per cent mark on a permanent occupancy basis.

Bateau Bay – another of the region’s more established suburbs. The Entrance runs through the suburb thus creating two distinct markets. The eastern (ocean) side is generally the more expensive option. If $700,000 is the marker, then good value on the no less popular western side of The Entrance Road is available. Generally older style but well established and accessorised property is the norm. An 80’s style, large, fourbedroom, single level dwelling with two bathrooms and double garage has just sold for $710,000 and a renovated 80’s style four-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling with inground pool and off street parking recently sold for $685,000. These represent good value for those aspiring to live in Bateau Bay.

Terrigal – some would suggest that only good things happen at Terrigal and if price point is the gauge, there may be some foundation to this. $700,000 will likely secure an old style, rundown dwelling or perhaps a two- or three-bedroom unit or townhouse away from the town centre. You might however get a vacant block of land with a little change left over – but you will need to be quick.

Next door Wamberal shares these same qualities, with Erina to the west being not far behind.

Point Clare – sitting on the western shores of Brisbane Waters, this is an older and established location with just a short drive to meet up with the M1 Motorway. Surprisingly, Point Clare has never been an area at the top of mind. We don’t know why, because there are a number of properties that can be purchased for less than $700,000. An 80’s style, slightly compact, four-bedder with single garage, landscaping and inground pool recently sold for $680,000. While the median value across the region has fallen just a little over the past year, Point Clare has actually increased – just a little. The area is predominantly owner-occupied with returns estimated to be around the 4.5 per cent mark.

Umina Beach – located towards the southern end of the region, Umina Beach, Woy Woy and Ettalong Beach enjoyed better than average value increases, but since September 2018, the median value has steadily declined and is approximately ten per cent lower. Rentals account for around 30 per cent of properties in Umina Beach with the remainder being owner-occupied. Due to the high number of second dwellings in Umina Beach, we tend to think there is a hybrid factor going on here with owners remaining in their dwellings while renting out the second dwelling.

In value terms, there are still a lot of properties being sold under or around the $700,000 mark. A renovated three-bedroom, one-bathroom dwelling with plenty of undercover parking recently sold for $700,000 whilst a similar dwelling, but minus the parking sold for $670,000. Older, more basic dwellings with the potential to add a second dwelling are selling for similar prices.

Southern Highlands Property Update

The past month has seen the southern highlands property market go from strength to strength! A lack of stock due to vendors’ unwillingness to put their properties to market in uncertain times coupled with extremely strong interest from Sydney buyers has resulted in a strong surge in sales numbers as well as prices in the local region. We had predicted this over the longer term, however it has been very evident over the past four weeks and the next few months should be interesting as we see life return to normal and the market potentially inundated with new listings.

A lazy $700,000 in the Southern Highlands is quickly becoming non-existent largely thanks to the above mentioned continual exodus from Sydney. This certainly doesn’t mean you can’t find anything for less than $700,000 in the region, however these days a brand new traditional family home in the three main suburbs of Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale are all above that price point.

The best performing suburb at this price point would either be Moss Vale or Mittagong, both of which have slightly older homes still popping up sub $700,000 and even sub $600,000 in the case of Moss Vale. Typically rental returns are good and again off the back of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, enquiry levels from Sydney have been strong, resulting in improved rental returns to that of the past 24 months.

We expect this price point to continue to perform strongly over the next few years, as working from home becomes a more common practice. In turn, this should result in more first home buyers looking in the area due to its good proximity to Sydney should they need to travel to a place of work a couple of days per week.

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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.