By Herron Todd White
March 2020

Lismore/Casino/Kyogle Property Updates

“What is real?” asked Dolores somewhat quizzically.

“That which is considered irreplaceable” Bernard surmised as he glanced down pensively (West World, Season 2).

For many, the drive to acquire real estate is simply that… irreplaceable. Whether it be a first home buyer renting a house starved of memories and yearning for a house to finally become their home, a growing family brood seeking an upgrade to a larger home with a long backyard in a new residential estate and hopefully a pool to boot or an investor scouring the region for real estate product that is going to provide a healthy yield and possibly some capital gain. All have a common goal…they want to move on.

Residential real estate in the Lismore City, Richmond Valley and Kyogle Shire Council areas comprises an eclectic mix with no particular group dominating the real estate scene. If anything, the upgraders may have the edge. With the influx of new residential estates opening up in the past few years and more expected on the horizon (Eastwood Real Estate – Goonellabah and the North Lismore Plateau), there is plenty of work available for builders and trades as the upgrader looks to acquire a new parcel of land and construct their dream home. There have been changes though. The lots are somewhat smaller and the houses somewhat larger with the traditional backyard becoming more of a past luxury.

There is also the emerging trend in these parts whereby the first home buyer is willing to buck the trend and go for the end goal. That is to say, skip the tradition of working up to the dream home and acquire the end goal in the first step! This can be fraught with danger. Purchasing a vacant parcel of land for say, $220,000, building a new modern four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with double garage and the usual suspects for ancillary improvements (driveway, turf, paths, landscaping), the total outlay could easily blow out to $550,000 plus in Lismore City or around $450,000 plus in Casino or Kyogle.

Does this sound unsettling? Yes, to a point, but when you consider the challenges met by the first home buyer in the major metropolitan centres of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, that $550,000 would not go far, so providing the first home buyer ticks all the boxes for the lender, then it is something worth considering. A tempting ploy whilst the interest rate levels are at record lows.

So, what are these particular groups of real estate owners looking for?

Investor – Considering that leaving money in the bank at record low saving deposit rates has as much appeal as the muted applause of an Oscar nomination for a Transformers movie, the investor is seeking decent return on their capital outlay. In this regard, duplex pairs or blocks of units are particularly interesting. As always, location is a key factor – close to the CBD or close to town services such as shopping, schools and work etc. For example, 11 Anstey Street, Girards Hill NSW 2480 sold for $910,000 on 02 September 2019 with an estimated gross yield of 7.5 percent or net yield of 5.5 percent after allowing for outgoings. Not bad.

First Home Buyer – Initially, the majority of this group is price conscious, however some are setting their sights higher for the new build product. Lenders are currently trying to woo this group into action, particularly with the low interest rates and concessions still available. In New South Wales, as at July 2018, the first home owner’s grant currently gives eligible first home owners $10,000 to purchase a new home of up to $600,000 or to build a new home up to $750,000. The current grant applies to contracts dated after 1 January 2016. Currently, as part of the First Home Buyer’s Assistance Scheme, first home buyers in New South Wales don’t have to pay stamp duty on homes valued up to $650,000. If the home is valued between $650,000 and $800,000 a concessional rate is applied.

Upgrader – Naturally, as the family grows, so does the need for the floor space to expand. As stated earlier, the new residential estates popping up in the suburb of Goonellabah give rise to such opportunities for the upgrader to have some input into the house design that suits their wants and needs. In areas such as Casino and Kyogle, there is limited land for new release, hence any upgrader is looking to the renovated or large, established house within close proximity to the CBD or even in the one of the rural residential estates dotted around the area. Most of the vacant lots in these rural residential estates have already been snapped up. For example, the popular Verulam Ridge Rural Residential Estate in Spring Grove is approximately ten kilometres north-east of Casino and nearly all of the 19 lots were sold or placed under contract within 12 months.

Downsizer – Not content with a budget twobedroom, original residential unit with a carport, we are now seeing a more refined real estate product where an executive style townhouse or detached modern duplex offers similar features to a new build home on a standard residential allotment, but for a smaller site, lower price and less maintenance hassles, i.e. less or no lawn to mow or even artificial grass! Even first home buyers are showing interest! One example is the line of executive style, threebedroom, two-bathroom attached townhouses in Ida Place, Goonellabah which have sold relatively quickly for sale prices above $450,000.

In summary, there is something for everyone in the Lismore City, Richmond Valley and Kyogle residential areas. It just depends on what’s your flavor.

Speak with a Lismore Mortgage Broker today.

Clarence Valley Property Updates

The Clarence Valley property market consists of various types of home owners with no tangible typical purchaser. Probably the most obvious is the retiree market drawn to the region by its natural features. With Yamba’s relaxed beachside feel and Maclean and Grafton’s relatively low cost of living, it’s clear why most localities appeal to the downsizer market. On the other hand, first home buyers and renovators continue to have a prominent presence with properties sub $500,000 typically reporting shorter selling periods. Certainly both groups and their subgroups have a vast array of options and look likely not to be pushed out by investors in the near future.

Coffs Harbour Property Updates

We’re not sure we can stereotype or pigeon hole the buyer profile or type of product each market sector is looking for in the Coffs Harbour region. As a small regional coastal town, we see a great mix of buyers and property types available for sale with lifestyle benefits being at the top of the list. Location to beaches is always a draw card. Ease of access to services such as schools, medical, shopping and public transport is also important.

The first home buyer is generally categorised by the amount of money able to be borrowed, typically up to the $500,000 market. Generally, this product is the older style unit close to the beach or modest single 20 to 40 year old single home in the suburbs.

Park Beach, approximately four to five kilometres north-east of the Coffs Harbour CBD is ideal for the first home buyer. This area was established in the 1970s and 1980s with modest low rise holiday and unit accommodation buildings and several single residential homes scattered throughout. Along the esplanade (Ocean Parade), higher density development has taken place with medium rise unit buildings. The landmark tavern known as the Hoey Moey and Park Beach caravan park sees this area as a popular tourist location.

The advantage of this locality is the beachside position with major shopping facilities such as the Park Beach Shopping and Home Base centres. Most units are on offer at very affordable average prices of $200,000 to $300,000 (older stock), new Even though 2019 brought stricter consumer lending conditions and requirements by all banks thanks to the Banking Royal Commission, this has not slowed the demand for people wanting to buy properties in the surrounding Hunter area. There has been a continuing trend of first home buyers still keen to buy blocks of land around the Thornton, Bolwara and Chisholm areas just out of Maitland (30 kilometres from Newcastle CBD), seemingly eager to take advantage of the First Home Buyer’s grant for new builds before any changes to the grant take place.

Other continuing popular suburbs on buyers’ lists are Mayfield, Islington, Maryville, Wickham and Tighes Hill, all being within seven kilometres of the Newcastle CBD. These suburbs are being flooded by younger first and second home buyers and also baby boomers who are selling up and moving closer to the action of a buzzing Newcastle.

Other surprise locations with increasing buyer activity are around Lake Macquarie suburbs including Swansea, Windale and also Belmont. There has been an increase in buyers who are likely snapping up the slightly lower priced properties compared to the above mentioned suburbs.

Former Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy has parted ways with his waterfront Belmont property which is believed to have been sold for over $4 million, another record setting sale for the Lake Macquarie area.

Port Macquarie Property Updates

This month we take a look at the different types of homeowners and typical buyer profiles. A quick look at the ABS statistics for the Port Macquarie state electoral division which is fairly representative of the wider mid north coast shows;

– Approximately 70 percent of households are family households, 25 percent are single or lone person households and five percent are group households.

  • Approximately 73 percent of people live in a three or four-bedroom dwelling
  • Approximately 73 percent of people live in a fully detached house
  • Approximately 65 percent of people own and 30 percent of people rent

From this, we can see that by far the most popular dwelling type and makeup is a fully detached house of three or four bedrooms to cater for a family or more than one person and they are purchased by an owner rather than an investor.

So, who is purchasing these properties? Anecdotally, we know we have ever increasing numbers of out of town purchasers with families moving to the area and snapping up this type of product, along with growing local families and second time buyers or upgraders moving to a more desirable home or location. So that is a rundown of the typical buyer profile and what they are looking for in a property.

As to what changes we have noticed of late, well we are also seeing an increasing amount of gentrification in the tightly held established areas as older vendors move on and younger families move into these areas and give them a face lift.

Speak with a Port Macquarie Mortgage Broker today.

Central Coast Property Updates

The Central Coast region of New South Wales is located approximately midway between the Sydney metropolitan area and the City of Newcastle in the Hunter region. Our region draws on them both, but remains independent at all times.

Property buyers in the market for an affordable alternative or an environment a little more relaxed than Sydney have found just that on the Coast. It’s far enough (just an hour in the car) from Sydney to be more than a little comfortable and has price points and the lifestyle without the feeling of being remote.

The region’s market covers a lot of ground in terms of the different property types available. Those just starting out can easily find property that is affordable, especially if they are eligible for first home buyer incentives. Properties in this category are spread across the region. We see first home buyers originating from the local population or relocating from the Sydney market. It would be easy to say the first home buyer demographic is prevalent, but that is not the case.

The typical property buyer on the coast isn’t limited to one group – in fact we can say there isn’t a typical home owner.

As mentioned, first home buyers are out in their numbers, but so too are investors, families, blended families, singles, downsizers, upsizers, retirees (plenty of retirees), expats, absentee owners with holiday homes, beach and other waterfront property owners, rural lifestyle owners, horsey people – the list goes on.

Investors are an interesting group. The region’s investor market not only includes the staples such as residential units and basic homes, but we have noted a good presence of those having a property used exclusively for holiday rentals or short term stays. The target property for this type of investor is either a home with a view or within the tourist centres – think Terrigal, Avoca Beach and The Entrance, but they are scattered across the region, sometimes in places one wouldn’t normally associate with holiday makers.

More lately though, units old and new within the expanding hospital precinct in Gosford have been popular, resulting in low vacancy rates. The typical residents here are those working in the health care sector, eithervisiting or long term.

Possibly as a result of the recent property boom, we are seeing a lot of upsizing and upgrading. In fact, we could say this chapter of the market place is becoming quite typical across the region. Stemming from those with the foresight to spend a little on renovations and improvements to improve value and marketability, most of these people have done quite well and put themselves into the next tier of the market for a while. We say most, because as in any market there are always a few who don’t do as well as anticipated.

To expand on this segment, we see the typical scenario of loving the area, selling and moving just a few streets away to a better property, but for some who did well from the last property boom, a move to a more upmarket suburb or a move into the region from Sydney has also occurred.

One of the results of those driving changes in the market has been the reinvention or rise in popularity of some suburbs. A good example of this is Long Jetty, just near The Entrance. For many years, Long Jetty was a suburb that was both acceptable and passed over. It has however been quietly growing and the recent property boom is thought to have turned Long Jetty into a cool postcode – there are cafes and specialty shops galore and comparing the main street now to a few years ago, we see young families becoming typical of the area’s residents.

At the southern end of the region, The Peninsula suburbs of Umina Beach, Woy Woy, Ettalong Beach and Booker Bay have seen some quite spectacular growth in property values that outstripped a number of other suburbs across the region before and during the last property boom. The demographics changed along with this and typical residents now include a mixture of millennials, boomers, young families – a large proportion moving up from Sydney – and of course, long term residents. This mixture seems to be working well.

In the mix of this are those adding value, with The Peninsula seeing more than its fair share of second dwellings. It was often the case that the detached garage at the rear lane (and there are a lot on The Peninsula) was converted for habitable purposes for the relatives to stay or to provide extra income. These days however, it is a purpose-built granny flat allowable under the rules of complying legislation for extra income. This type of development hasn’t changed the area too much, but there is the odd comment by long term locals that it will in time. Rental returns for these dual occupancies can be around six to seven percent.

Being a region recognised mostly as a coastal area, the beachside suburbs are markets within themselves. Typical residents along the beachfronts include resident professionals in the higher salary bracket, business owners or those with the means to hold a holiday home on the beach which nowadays generally have a buy in point of at least $2.5 to $3 million and upwards from there. There are some magnificent locations and properties. Weekdays, we typically see walkers of all ages and the socialisers, but on the weekends and holidays is when we see this expand to a whole new genre of typical resident. After a busy week, many are happy to chill, unshaven in their boardies with surfboard or surfski on the roof rack while others are out to be seen in their cool cars with casual but smart beachside dress. As for the kids, think board under the arm, sun bleached hair, rashies or steamers. Fairly typical. Away from the beachfront – but you are never too far from the beach – are typical locals who work in offices, building sites, retail or hospitality.

We now move north to the newer areas of Woongarrah, Hamlyn Terrace and Wadalba. This is the territory of the modern, four-bedroom, twobathroom and double garage project home. Prices range from early $500,000 to mid $800,000 at the moment. It is the typical mortgage belt area with mum, dad, 2.5 kids and a big mortgage. We wouldn’t say it is blue collar through and through, but there is a lot of it. These residents are the heart and soul of the now and future of the region. Honest people just going about the business of work, play and driving the kids to school and sports – like we say, heart and soul. The presence of these typical residents is what will drive the future of the region and a lot of tomorrow’s infrastructure will be decided based on their needs. The flow on effects from these residents will, in theory, be felt across the region’s future as some stay put, others upsize, upgrade, move to the beach or move to the rural lifestyle locations.

Speaking of rural lifestyle locations, there are a few dress circle locations such as Matcham, Holgate and Glenning Valley. These are typified by larger dwellings and quality ground improvements with spare land around them. Property prices are generally above $2 million (sometimes double that), but every so often, we will see prices paid below this. Once again, a majority of residents here are thought to be business owners or those in the higher salary brackets. Over time, we have noted that property buyers are a mixture of locals upgrading with a few residents moving to the region from elsewhere.

Other popular rural residential areas include Jilliby and the beautiful Yarramalong and Dooralong Valley areas. Prices vary considerably depending on the individual property. Although mostly populated by owner-occupiers, there is a smattering of weekenders from Sydney looking for the quiet weekend escape. Along with the variable property values, so too is the standard of dwellings and improvements. We see older (near original) farm type houses with many architecturally designed dwellings throughout and average homes as well. Some of the properties are actively worked for equine pursuits, some may have a few head of cattle while others are just homes to the occupants who enjoy the quiet and space.

Up on the mountain, we see the likes of Mangrove Mountain, Central Mangrove, Kulnura and Peats Ridge. To typify residents here, we could say this is where generally, the growers and producers are found. These areas are where the farms are and those working the land to make a living. Some properties are developed for citrus growing, others for poultry or vegetables with a few horse and cattle properties as well. A lot of no frills type locals here, so respect in their presence is strongly suggested, appreciated and returned. Again, property values vary considerably. Some properties have no real purpose or capability for income producing and the prices reflect this – say upwards of $650,000 – while others having agricultural value are well above this, and while a few are traded off market, the available market evidence suggests values above the $2 million mark can be expected. A home on ten hectares for rural lifestyle living is around the $1.5 to $2 million mark, a reasonable indication of value in these areas.

Southern Highlands Property Updates

Typically, the Southern Highlands attracts a vast range of buyers within the local residential market. The entry level market is dominated by first home buyers and typically makes up a value range of $450,000 to $700,000. For the very entry level, say sub-$550,000, think satellite suburbs such as Hill Top, Colo Vale, New Berrima. We tend to see a large portion of first home buyers unable to afford the more affluent suburbs such as Bowral, however we do see some smaller more affordable dwellings snapped up for under $600,000 on less desirable streets in Bowral such as Price, Thompson and Sheaffe.

As the region continues to grow, we are beginning to see popularity increase for good quality villas and townhouses located within close proximity to central Bowral as well as quality built homes on smaller lots being very popular with local downsizers. Typically, these downsizers are selling large acre lots in Burradoo or surrounds and opting for easier to maintain parcels in good central locations. This area of the market is also popular for retirees from Sydney who come in droves and are chasing good quality product in good central locations close to local schools and townships.

The family market is a vast mix of an economic make up with more affluent families looking into prestige suburbs such as Burradoo, followed by new premium estates such as Retford Park and then into East Bowral which is predominantly 20 plus year old project homes. We are seeing an influx of families from Sydney beginning to populate the Renwick and Tahmoor and Thirlmere area as they are able to commute to Sydney as well as work from home and therefore are able to afford far bigger family homes at far more affordable prices than are available within Sydney.

Looking at shifting demographics within the region, the largest change we have seen over the past several years has been the gentrification of Moss Vale. Typically Moss Vale has been the administration capital of the Highlands and considered a working class strong hold and poor sister to Bowral, however over recent times we have seen the main street flourish with several homewares stores, cafes and bars opening their doors as well as many local families moving from other parts of the Highlands into the Moss Vale area. Generally, they are able to get far more bang for their buck than the other established suburbs of Bowral and Mittagong.

Albury/Wodonga Property Updates

The home owners of the Albury Wodonga region are fortunate to be able to consider home ownership strategies offering choice and mobility due to the relative affordability compared to metropolitan areas. To some extent this is displayed in quite traditional patterns of the home owner’s journey, where entry level properties are available in many areas and the population tends to continue to be active throughout the life stages of the property market in the region.

The entry level sub-$200,000 is fast evaporating, however the $200,000 to $300,000 is the most active range and offers good value for first home owners especially in North Albury, Lavington and older parts of Wodonga and West Wodonga. If first home owners are able to push into the $300,000 to $350,000 range, more brick, less weatherboard may be found, most likely still in those locations. The variety of housing stock available and the dollar range between starting out and forever home is not prohibitive, so stepping up is viable and many home owners opt for aligning their property ownership with their life stage needs very successfully.

Probably the demographic with the most options is the double income no kids couple, which has definitely been a large part of the new home building boom in the region. This segment has bypassed the entry level compromises of an old cheap house and signed up to new home packages from as little as $325,00 to $425,000 depending on location and build choices. Suburbs offering the low end are parts of Springdale Heights, Hamilton Valley and the smaller outer estates of Thurgoona and at the higher end of the range, subdivisions in Thurgoona close to shops and schools. Across the border the lower end of the range is found in parts of White Box Rise in Wodonga, basic packages in Killara and Baranduda and most recently, for those hunting cheaper land with a fair hike to town, the new suburban subdivision in Tangambalanga (24 kilometres south-east of Wodonga). This segment quite often builds again when they decide to have a family, upgrading the house and sometimes the location to suit being closer to parks, childcare and schools.

The upgraders are probably the most spoilt for choice in the region. All suburbs have leafy treelined streets perfect for family living and also larger lot new subdivisions where bells and whistles and sheds can measure the comforts this segment demands for raising kids whilst balancing work and leisure. The price range is $450,000 to $650,000 for most properties and popular estates include golf course estates, East Albury, Iluka Views, Brooklyn Fields in Thurgoona and various new estates with good quality housing in Wodonga, West Wodonga and Killara. Before the upgraders become empty nesters, there is a proportion who will move again to rural residential properties within a 30 kilometre radius of Albury-Wodonga. Popular areas for this include Table Top, Barandua, Kiewa, Yackandandah and Jindera. This market has seen solid demand over the past five years and also high turnover as well. As such, the price range is more likely to be $500,000 to $1.2 million depending on location, size and improvements.

Of course, empty nesters and retirees often seek a smaller or low maintenance home option and whilst many flock to central Albury and Wodonga for proximity to facilities, there is a growing trend across home buyers for smaller allotments which are all house or even purchasers willing to pay as much or more for a smaller sized dwelling, possibly considering energy costs in addition to low maintenance lifestyles. In conclusion, home ownership is an achievable goal for a high proportion of the population of the Albury- Wodonga region.

Tamworth Property Updates

With its multitude of suburbs, each with their own pros and cons, Tamworth has an area for every home owner for each stage of their property journey.

First home owners can be found throughout, but the typical suburbs are South Tamworth, Hillvue and parts of North Tamworth. These suburbs offer older homes with a price tag of $200,000 to $350,000 which will get you a doer-upper at the lower end to a fully renovated 1980s brick dwelling at the upper end. Our demographic here tends to be younger owners either as a single occupier, young couple or family – think 20s to early 30s.

Our next demographic is those in their early 30s up to 50. This is where location and size count as typically buyers are looking to be in a good location for their kids to grow up with space to grow and play as the family does. Calala, Moore Creek, North Tamworth and East Tamworth are where we see most of these buyers. Young families dominate the newer areas of Calala, Moore Creek and North Tamworth as they are able to secure a newish (less than five years old) four-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling with no work needed on a comfortable 700 plus square metre lot, all for under $550,000 depending on the home. Those looking for proximity to schools and the CDB focus on the blue chip area of East Tamworth.

While the in town properties certainly attract a lot of buyers, let’s not forget about those who want a bit of space for the horse or motorbike. This is where the small acreage (one to ten hectare) properties of Moore Creek and Daruka come into play. Out in these areas, we predominantly see either young families moving for the space or older owners who have raised their families and watched them leave, but are not yet ready to down size.

Once we get to downsizers, all suburbs are fair game with a large range of new and old dwellings on smaller lots with easy maintenance available all over Tamworth. New builds in North Tamworth and Calala are very popular, but so are older renovated dwellings in East Tamworth that offer proximity to the CBD.

All in all, every suburb in Tamworth has owners from all stages of their property journey with no one suburb being ultimately dominated by any particular demographic. With the continued low interest rates, we are seeing first home owners stretching that little bit more to secure themselves a property in the more prestigious area of East Tamworth. Along with this we are seeing first home buyers also getting into bigger, brand new homes in North Tamworth or Calala, where over the years there has certainly been more of a shift towards the younger demographic or first home owner.

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.