The Smartline Report – March Edition


The month in review: Wollongong

By Herron Todd White
March 2016

The Illawarra has seen reasonable growth in the past 12 to 18 months in all sectors and there is a sense in the market that it will continue, particularly in the below $600,000 section of the market, according to our reading of recent sales and agents’ advice.

Affordable housing has had a blip from the lows of late 2011 to 2012 but there are few suburbs in the general Illawarra area where it is possible to get something in the sub $400,000 range.

In the south, across the Shellharbour LGA there are some older houses under $450,000 but these are getting harder to come by as well. This is a big change from three years ago when properties could be purchased for under $300,000. We all wish we had bought some then. The postcode to look for here is 2529.

As usual it is always the lower end of the market that moves first and sees the better percentage increase in value. Never forget the low end of a market in the better located suburbs. You will generally be a clear winner when the whole market moves.

The mid range has remained strong during the past year and we have seen the $700,000 to $850,000 range with a bit more strength, depending on the suburb of course. This is the second home buyer’s sector and those who bought four years ago have seen some genuine increases, particularly around the northern beaches. Suburbs such as Figtree, Keiraville, Balgownie, Fairy Meadow, Corrimal, Woonona and Towradgi have experienced some good growth in values in this time. The postcode to look for here is 2519.

Above $900,000 the depth of buyers drops off, but there is still reasonable activity and some good strength. Over $1 million there are some good sales but it is generally thinly traded and tending to be harder to find bargains. The major influences in this sector are interstate investors and Sydney buyers looking for an upmarket house close to the beach but within commuting distance of Sydney. Bulli, Thirroul, Austinmer, Coledale and Stanwell Park are all attractive to this buyer sector.

Kiama and Minnamurra are also included in the southern parts of the region, with a good deal of holiday house buying pushing the market.

Let’s look at some of the good long term growth sectors in the Illawarra market.

In our view this lies in the lower ranges, affordable ($600,000 to 700,000) in a desirable location i.e. north or close to Wollongong CBD.

For units, we see CBD units close to the beach, university or hospital in the range of $350,000 to $450,000 as being a good bet for the future.

What offers the average buyer the best chance of growth over the medium term? Pick up an older home in a good location…. (close to Wollongong, Shellharbour or the beach) where the majority of the value is in the land… worst house in the best street etc. Don’t go for the new project home in a fringe location – remember that only the land increases over time, not the improvements – a tried and true adage in real estate. Forget about having all the mod cons when buying your first house – buy a shack on the best land you can. It will serve you well in the long term. Remember the 60/40 rule.

If someone called our office looking to spend a reasonable amount of money but didn’t want to sit on the property forever, we would direct them to inner suburbs close to employment centres, whether Wollongong, Shellharbour or Kiama LGAs.

The average buyer profile in this sector is mixed and includes investors and first home buyers, but increasingly we see small builders and amateur developers invading the market.

Overall, the Illawarra property market has remained quite buoyant especially in the low and mid ranges, with the prestige markets tapering off. The outlook for the Illawarra property market appears to be in a steady but not spectacular growth mode. If interest rates rise there will be some fallout and values may ease.



Please note that information in this publication is subject to change without notice. Smartline assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions or mistakes in this document. © Smartline Home Loans P/L 1999 – 2016. Australian Credit Licence Number 385325