Regional NSW May 2018

The month in review: Regional NSW

By Herron Todd White
May 2018

Southern Highlands

The prestige market across the Southern Highlands is defined as at a price point in excess of $3 million. The choice of property types include prestige residential located in the main townships of Bowral, Moss Vale and Mittagong, predominantly on land sizes between 4,000 and 10,000 square metres. Another sector of the prestige market is rural lifestyle acreage properties defined as land size between ten and 50 hectares and located on the outskirts of the main townships across the villages and hamlets of Berrima, Sutton Forest, Exeter and Robertson.

Historically purchasers of these property types have been Sydney based, having sold out of that market and looking for a lifestyle change or seeking a weekender. It should be noted that over the past six months we have observed increasing activity from the Sydney real estate agents in the local market and in some cases, sales contracts being unsupportable in the local market. This market historically has shown high levels of volatility, linked to the vagaries of the financial markets together with the Sydney property market. It is not uncommon for extended marketing periods and multiple agent marketing campaigns of up to two years at the higher price point, with vendors willing to wait for the right purchaser and likewise purchasers tending to be highly discriminatory in their purchasing decisions.

Lismore / Casino / Kyogle

With the ongoing improvements in the residential market throughout the Northern Rivers over the past 12 months, we have noted some ceiling crashing moments within the local market of Lismore City, namely in the suburbs of Goonellabah, East Lismore, Girards Hill and Lismore Heights.

It was not too long ago that any residential property, prestige or not, would have a snowball’s chance in the pit of Hades of reaching $600,000 in the aforementioned suburbs.

However, in the 12 month period since the end of April 2017, we have noted approximately 20 residential sales of detached houses in Lismore City break through the $600,000 barrier. And at present, this market sector is still receiving strong enquiry when a residential property of this quality is placed on the market for sale. It is not uncommon for these properties to sell within a month.

Such prestige houses (which in Lismore City is anything over $600,000) are typically blessed with an abundance of features including extensive landscaping, pool, solar power, ducted airconditioning, 4- plus bedrooms, 2- plus bathrooms, double or triple garage, large site area and wide rural or residential views.

Some exquisite residences have even hit $800,000, for example, 16 Cavendish Road, Goonellabah which sold on 10 November 2017 for $837,500.

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Typically, these types of properties are acquired by high network individuals with secure employment or business owners within the district that have a passion for quality.

To a lesser extent, both Casino and Kyogle are limited in their supply of such prestige property, however, any sale price above $500,000 for a detached house is considered to be within the upper echelon of those townships. Again, such properties have all the “bells and whistles”, but are relatively sparse in supply compared to the regional centre of Lismore. From our research and converse with local real estate agencies in the area, the demand for very good quality detached housing is still relatively firm and receive a lot of interest when offered for sale. However, it can be a very tightly held market. For example, fully renovated heritage style housing in a flood free section of Girards Hill and parts of East Lismore are very difficult to acquire and when they do become available heritage housing enthusiasts salivate.

Current market evidence indicates this sector is doing relatively well and likely to continue, providing that dreaded interest beast is kept “chained up” in the dog house.

Ballina/Alstonville Region

Generally speaking, the prestige market within Ballina Shire at present would be considered property in excess of $1,200,000. Prestige residential property within the Ballina Shire is generally concentrated within the Lennox Head, Skennars Head and East Ballina localities. Prestige rural residential localities are generally located within the localities of Newrybar/Brooklet and Tintenbar (which is largely considered to be part of the Byron Bay Hinterland). To a lesser extent are the rural localities surrounding Alstonville.

There have been three sales of beachfront/beachside properties situated within Lennox Head that have transacted for in excess of $3 million in the past 12 months. The market-leading sale within Lennox Head over the past 12 months is the sale at 65 Dress Circle Drive for over $4 million in September 2017. This sale comprises a well presented 2 level dwelling of rendered brick and tile construction which obtains extensive north east ocean views towards Broken Head.

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Another recent sale of interest is the sale at 2/4 Grandview St, East Ballina for $1.7 million in January 2018. This property previously transacted for $1.1 million in 2014 which represents an approximate increase in value of 55%.

The prestige market within the Ballina Shire remains strong at present and is typically driven by the performance of capital city markets, most notably Sydney.

Byron Bay

The Byron Bay and immediate surrounding rural residential real estate market, given its unique coastal location and lifestyle attributes and the national/international appeal of the area, can tend to operate somewhat independently of the broader market on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.

Whilst it is influenced by the normal micro and macroeconomic parameters of the general real estate market, it is also subject to individual preferences and emotion-driven demand that can result in the property cycle for this area “ebbing and flowing” to a greater degree, outside of normal market conditions.

Consequently, prestige property prices in Byron Bay and its surrounds can also be subject to a greater deal of volatility than more standard urban areas, and the higher the price, the thinner the market.

The prestige beachfront, beachside and highly regarded rural residential localities of the Far North Coast of New South Wales, and in particular Byron Bay, has improved strongly since circa mid-2013 through to the present date.

This improvement in prestige prices for Byron Bay has been reflected in increased sale volumes and firming sale prices, which in some instances (and in particular the prestige $2 million to $4.5 million bracket) have moved beyond the peak market price levels of 2007.

Within Byron Bay, the price points for prestige residential dwellings housing is between $1.25 to $4.25 million Ultra-prestige residential dwelling price points would commence at $4.5 million and onwards. In relation to prestige residential unit price points, the prestige market would lie between $1 and $2 million and the ultra-prestige residential unit market would be situated between $2 and $4 million.

There has been an improved process in the ultraprestige $5 million-plus price bracket with the sales of prestige beachside properties situated within the Wategos Beach and Lighthouse Rd precincts as well as sales of prestige rural residential properties situated within high regarded rural localities situated on the fringe of the Byron Bay township.

However, property transactions of this high end rural residential nature remain limited, with relatively fewer purchasers in this segment who have the demand, and importantly, financial capability to acquire this type of property. This is usually coupled with a general slower market activity.

The sale volumes for prestige property in Byron Bay and the immediate surrounding rural residential localities situated east of the Pacific Highway (encompassing Ewingsdale, Skinners Shoot, Mcleods Shoot, Saint Helena, Talofa, Coopers Shoot and Broken Head), on an annual basis, from the 2010 to 2017 calendar years are as follows:

The table indicates the relatively small number of sales or the ‘thinness’ of the Byron Bay residential prestige market and the substantial reduction in sales rates post GFC. It should be noted that the increase in sales activity during the 2012 year was mainly due to an increase in the number of properties that were sold under ‘forced’ circumstances.

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The more recent firming market for prestige properties is evident in the increase in sales volumes over 2015, 2016 and 2017 period. However, the above table clearly indicates how thin the market is for sales in excess of $7 million, with only 8 sales in this price bracket since 2010.

There have only been 3 sales greater than $9 million occur over in recent times. There have been no sales greater than $10 million since the market peak in 2007. The most recent sale greater than $10 million within the Wategos precinct was 11 Marine Pde, which sold for a record price of $15.68 million in July 2006.

There have been two sales situated along Marine Pde (within the Wategos precinct) which have achieved sales prices greater than $8 million. 37 Marine Pde achieved a sale price of $9.5 million in November 2015.

This property comprises an attached, strata titled, semi-modern style duplex pair situated on a parent parcel with a land area of 669 sqm. The units face north-west with expansive views over Wategos Beach, Julian Rocks, the ocean and mountain/border ranges views in the distance. See below photo of the view provided:

This improved interest in prestige property initially was due to buyer perceptions that the market had ‘bottomed’ with vendors being prepared to meet the market. However, in more recent years, the improved market conditions have been related to the ongoing strength of the South-East Queensland, Melbourne and in particular the Sydney property market, of which the Byron Shire has historically been closely aligned to (as a discretionary holiday or lifestyle home purchase).

The Clarence Valley

Within the Clarence Valley, prestige properties are most commonly situated in Yamba and surrounding rural residential or riverfront localities.

The median dwelling sale price in Yamba has increased from $430,000 in January 2016 to $540,000 in January 2018 with approximately 50% of sales over the last 12 months occurring in the $400,000 to $600,000 price bracket. While this bracket encompasses the median sales price, the prestige market is more thinly traded with limited stock coming to market and fewer buyers. Despite this, the greater than $1 million price bracket accounts for almost 8% of all dwelling sales over the previous 12 month period which shows steady performance over the short term.

The buyer pool for prestige property is quite limited, as evidenced by low % turnover, and this segment of the market is historically most responsive to economic changes. Within Clarence Valley, the prestige market is dominated by buyers seeking ocean, canal or river frontage or acreage situated within close proximity to Yamba (i.e. Micalo Island, Palmers Channel or Palmers Island). As for the outlook for prestige properties, the market is showing signs sale rates stabilising with sales pricing continuing to steadily increase.

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Coast being a regional area realistically sees the prestige market starting at the $1 million mark which is predominately driven by the out of town buyers.

The largely “discretionary” type buyer to whom prestige property greater than $1 million appeals can be greatly impacted by changed economic conditions.

The high-end prestige market within the Coffs Coast is prone to greater and more rapid fluctuations in sale volumes and sale price levels than the lower and middle markets. This market is also heavily influenced by the performance of the capital city markets as these areas traditionally provide the majority of buyers for prestige housing on the Coffs Coast.

Market conditions have continued to firm for properties over $1 million in recent years which is confirmed by the increased sales numbers for both beachside and rural residential properties over $1 million, however, the majority of sales occur within the $1 million to $1.5 million price bracket.

The higher the value the thinner the market, historically there has been very limited sales over $2 million with the highest recorded sale for a single residence to date being $2,650,000 at Diggers Beach (Coffs Harbour) in 2015.

The majority of prestige sales not surprisingly occur within the sought after beachside suburbs or welllocated rural areas close to town/beach.

Beachside locations such as Sawtell, Coffs Harbour (Jetty precinct, Diggers Beach), Korora, Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach and Woolgoolga see the majority of sales over $1 million, however very limited sales over $1.5 million.

In more recent times we are seeing the prestige rural residential market increase in activity with two notable sales within the rural precinct (west of the Pacific Highway) of Sapphire Beach being a 3ha executive style property in Sugarmill Rd for $1.9 million.

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And a 2.3ha dual accommodation property at The Mountain Way for $2,000,000

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Other rural localities close to Coffs Harbour were we see increased prestige activity is at Upper Orara, Bucca, Bonville and Boambee. The rural township of Bellingen (35km south west of Coffs Harbour) is always a strong performer with the out of town market and regularly sees sales in excess of $1 million particularly within the more sort after locations of Gleniffer (Roses Rd) and the Promised Land. As a result of the market primarily being driven by the out of town buyers, personal preferences, presentation and motivation of both the purchasers and vendors may impact on the ultimate sale price and can result in wider market parameters than those experienced for lower-priced properties. Extended selling periods in excess of 6-12 months are traditionally required.

Central West

Residential and rural residential properties over the $1 million mark would generally fit the bill as prestige properties. The majority of such sales consists of renovated character dwellings in established areas with similar surrounding properties, properties within subdivisions of 2,000 to 10,000 square metre lots with covenants for minimum dwelling sizes, and larger properties on the fringe of town. Prestige units are practically non-existent as there is very limited demand for such properties.

There are a higher percentage of rural residential properties that sell for over $1 million due to the land value comprising a larger proportion of the overall value. This type of property has seen strong growth over the past two years, however there is a perception that rural prices are close to peaking and are then likely to remain steady thereafter.

Anecdotal evidence from agents indicates that purchasers of such properties generally have high incomes and it would not usually constitute their first property purchase. A reasonable percentage of purchasers are tree changers from larger metropolitan areas who have a significant war chest from the sale of their other property.

If you like the television show Heartbeat, then you might be drawn to the area south of Orange. Every time I’m there it reminds me of the countryside from that show with tall trees, grassy paddocks and ant springs.

A good example of a prestige property in the area is 48 Berrilee Road, Springside. It is a large modern dwelling on a gently sloping two hectare lot located ten minutes drive from Orange. This property sold on 25 October 2017 for $1.025 million.

Central Coast

Perhaps as a consequence of the rising market over the past few years, the line between prestige property and everything else seems to have blurred slightly – it still exists, but is just a little different Streets and suburbs not usually associated with the prestige property market are now being looked at in a slightly different way by some. This is generally a result of some residents hearing of prices being paid and then thinking to themselves that their suburb or street has moved from normal to prestige. To be fair, with the changes seen in market values of late, they could well be forgiven for thinking this was the case.

Sadly this is not actually how it works – while their property value may have increased, values everywhere have moved up, not just in their street.

While the exclusivity of living and owning property within the Central Coast Region remains, so too does the prestige property market within it. While we often see the term prestige used in real estate marketing (often referring to a particular house in a particular street within a given suburb), we really think of the prestige market as being one of reputation and desire to be a part of it. For our purposes, we’ll touch on the traditional prestige market – beachfronts, or properties very close to it with views and digs to match, along with some rural residential areas.

Starting at the northern end of the region and relative to it, prestige property is found to some degree at The Entrance North, but more so along the Toowoon Bay and Blue Bay beach fronts which have proven popular with those from Sydney.

There are some very nice properties to be found here and prices paid recently include two properties on Werrina Parade at $3.5 million and $3.26 million.

Moving towards the centre of the region, if prices paid and standard of dwelling guides us to the prestige market, then Wamberal and Terrigal fit the brief. Beachfront sales are limited to either Ocean View Drive and Pacific Street with some recent sales including $2.7 million and $3.03 million for older style dwellings on the beach. Away from the beach, McGee Avenue has a long standing reputation as a street with prestige due to the ocean views available. Recent sales include $2.425 million for a well a presented 5-bedroom home.

Although fronting the ocean, Terrigal itself is essentially without direct oceanfront properties, but many prestige dwellings and apartments are found on the headland and near the beach with ocean views. Recent apartment sales within the Star of the Sea complex have occurred for prices between $2.2 million and $2.6 million with a headland property selling at $3.85 million.

North Avoca is right next to Terrigal and if the benchmark for prestige property is linked to value, then there are a few, but reasonably tightly held properties along the beachfront and owned by absentee owners. A recent sale includes a North Avoca Parade property at $3.425 million. Avoca Beach has enjoyed high prices for beach fronts for many years. A recent example is $4.65 million paid for an older style dwelling and $4.65 million for a magnificent, large designer apartment on the headland.

When we think prestige property on the Central Coast, our thoughts often turn to Pearl Beach. It’s not for everyone, but those living and spending their weekends or holidays there are okay with that and are prepared to pay big prices to secure property. High value property sales have been a little quiet lately, but this can change without warning. In the past year, we have seen a number of $4 million plus sales occur here.

That pretty much covers the prestige beach front areas and given the diversity of the Central Coast property market space, there are a few contenders in the rural residential prestige market.

Most high value rural residential sales occur in the Matcham Valley area where we are regularly seeing sales exceeding the $3 million mark including a recent sale on Oak Road at $3.95 million. At the minute though, sale prices in the $2.2 million to $2.7 million range are very popular. To us this means another round of upgraders is looming.

Drivers of the prestige property market on the Central Coast area combination of various factors. These include purchases by those looking to upgrade from within and from outside of the area, those looking for prestige (by local standards) property for holidaying purposes and with the means to do so, the odd investor, expat and retiree.

Underpinning a lot of purchases of course are the favourable lending conditions currently. All in all, we think the prestige property market within the Central Coast region is stable, receiving an appropriate level of attention and demand. Traditionally, this has nearly always been the case and we think it has fared well across previous cycles compared to other regions when market volatility becomes an issue.

At present, there doesn’t seem to be much stock being marketed as available for sale, but again, this is not uncommon as many sales are conducted off market due to the participants preferring to avoid that type of attention.

Mid North Coast

The Mid North Coast prestige sector has significantly lower values than what is considered to be prestige in the larger nearby cities of Newcastle and Sydney.

Historically, values for what is known as the prestige segment generally have started above $1 million, but over the past two to three years, with a rapidly rising market, we have seen values for higher quality properties rise significantly. So our prestige market has climbed with recent values achieved up to $2 million and prestige properties generally considered to be in the high $1 million range.

In the larger regional centre of Port Macquarie, prestige properties are mostly found along the river, within the canal developments and along the coast and beachfront suburbs (especially Lighthouse Beach). In the past year there have been over 60 sales of dwellings over $1 million but almost no sales over $2 million. However, we note a recent sale, currently under contract for an undisclosed sale price, but reputed to be well over $2 million. The selling agents have stated that it is the highest sale price achieved for a dwelling in Port Macquarie town in the past ten years.

The rural residential areas around the Port Macquarie-Hastings and Great Lakes Shires have also shown rapid increases in prestige rural residential properties, with a recent sale of a small riverfront acreage at $2.35 million at Rawdon Island (just west of Port Macquarie).

The southern sectors along the Mid North Coast, including the town of Forster and the coastal villages of Boomerang Beach, Blueys Beach and Seal Rocks have shown a rapid increase in values within the prestige market segment over the past year, with some 14 sales between $1.8 million and $2.5 million.

The rise in demand and prices for prestige style properties along the Mid North Coast appears to have been fuelled by the past rises in the Sydney and Newcastle markets. An influx of cashed up buyers from those areas has shown the most interest in this market segment. Going forward, we feel that demand in this market segment will remain stable, although it accounts for less than 5% of the overall residential property market in the region. We believe that values will generally remain stable with possible small corrections should the markets weaken in the major centres and capital cities over the next year.


Prestige properties within the Tamworth region are considered to be residential properties over $800,000 and can be identified within two distinct markets. The first of these is older, federation style dwellings located within East Tamworth that have generally been renovated to a high standard. The second is newer dwellings located in the fringe suburbs of North Tamworth, Moore Creek and Daruka, which are generally located on 2000 plus square metre lots, with very good district views and built to a high standard.

Two recent sales are 65 Hill Street, East Tamworth and 3 Bentwing Place, North Tamworth. 65 Hill Street is a circa 1910, double brick, federation style home that has been renovated throughout with large outdoor areas and swimming pool on 1,618 square metres. 3 Bentwing Place is a circa 2013 brick veneer dwelling, with fantastic district views and very high quality fit-out on 1.5 hectares. Both properties sold in less than six months, with Bentwing Place taking only 16 days to sell. This shows the high demand prestige properties are currently receiving within the Tamworth region.

Over the past six months we have seen an increase in the prestige market with seven sales within East Tamworth and three within the fringe suburbs. This is compared to one sale in East Tamworth and two within the fringe suburbs during the previous six months. This increase is being driven by local upgraders as well as new professionals, such as doctors, who are moving to town.

As Tamworth’s economy continues to grow and more people move to the area for work, we expect the prestige market to continue its strengthening performance.

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