Regional NSW October 2017

The month in review: Regional NSW

By Herron Todd White
October 2017

Southern Highlands

The traditional housing style across the Southern Highlands is a tale of two markets, near and far. For properties located close to the main townships of Bowral, Moss Vale and Mittagong, the purchaser’s decision is driven in the main by access to infrastructure and price point. Properties will be on blocks from 800 to 4,000 square metre and improvements will range from early 1980s, 3-bedroom brick veneer, concrete tiled roof to new residences constructed in the country style of weatherboard, metal roof and attached verandah. Price points will be in the $550,000 to $2 million range with the most active market being the sub $1.5 million market. Over the past couple of years and  with changes in the Wingecarribee LEP, large blocks close to town have progressively been subdivided and infill development has taken place.

For properties outside the townships, affordability and rural lifestyle are the main drivers. On the affordability front, the hamlets north of the township of Mittagong, namely Hill Top, Colo Vale, Bargo and Tahmoor, have seen an influx of activity in the sub $700,000 market. Properties typically will be 1980s to 1990s 3-bedroom weatherboard or brick veneer on land sizes from 700 to 1,000 square metres.

Rural lifestyle properties traditionally have been situated on the outer rings of the main townships of Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong. Typically comprising 40 hectares of land, improvements range from modest weatherboard and metal roof dwellings with redundant ancillary improvements to substantial architect designed residences with substantial ancillary improvements, yarding, horse arenas and ornamental lakes at the upper end. Price points here range from $1.5 million to $4 million plus and typically would be around the $2 million mark.

The region continues to benefit from the ripple of the Sydney market, with new land releases north of Mittagong to cater for new residents in the region. The recent announcement by the NSW Department of Planning that Wilton Junction has been designated as a priority growth area has brought the reality of the new township to accommodate up to 16,500 dwellings across the 4,175 hectare site located off the M5 East Freeway a step closer. Other areas earmarked for residential development include Tahmoor and Appin. Closer in to the existing townships of Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale, it’s anticipated there will be limited releases of land predominantly restricted to resubdivision of appropriately zoned larger lots.

NSW Central Coast Property Review

The transition and settling of new residents across the Central coast region over the years with differing needs, ideas and budgets allows us to say that there is a vast range of housing styles available across the region. Brick veneer and fibro cottages remain the predominant traditional housing style and they have appealed to both investors and owner-occupiers.

We say transition because over the past few years, we have seen original cottages being extended and renovated with modern interiors, incorporating modern building techniques and finishes – think louvre windows, raked ceilings and more efficient heating and cooling, while still maintaining some original elements.

Brick veneer remains a popular choice for homeowners and investors purchasing an existing property for ownership or renovation.

For a new build, modern designs are focused on lightweight materials to create a simple and sleek look. Natural colours and materials such as timber and stone with grey, brown and green palettes are currently trending.

Although it is restricted by higher building costs, we’d like to think there is an emerging trend of a focus on environmentally conscious builds.

In Gosford CBD, attached housing has become more attractive for investors and home owners as it remains affordable and in close proximity to public transport. Various areas including Terrigal, Avoca Beach and The Entrance are seeing an increase in attached housing as purchasers are looking for a more affordable option in these sought after areas.

Although the design of units hasn’t evolved significantly at first glance, due to the engagement of notable architects, we are seeing a far superior product emerging in the off the plan units space, appealing to investors and home owners alike.

In terms of size, detached houses on larger blocks are becoming harder to find. We are seeing living areas maximised with better planning and design – the move away from laundry rooms to laundry cupboards is a good example. The advantages of light and space are also being maximised.

Toward the northern end of our region, while larger homes remain the preference for larger or blended families, this may change as Tuggerah and Wyong town centres are developed and attached housing becomes an attractive, affordable option.

Elsewhere, many fibro houses on large blocks are being purchased by investors who are developing units or townhouses to cater for the growing attached housing market, presently still the domain of renters. It can be broadly split into units being primarily occupied by younger, single residents and townhouses being occupied by retirees and partners.

Both affordability and value adding is being addressed through an increase in granny flats and dual occupancy developments, particularly in southern areas such as Woy Woy, Umina and Ettalong where many properties have the attraction of dual access.

An example is a property in Umina Beach purchased for $315,000 in 2009. A granny flat towards the rear of the property was added during 2016 and the property sold in 2017 for $895,000. The granny flat has the potential to earn an approximate rental of $400 per week.

This creates an aspect of inter-generational living as granny flats are occupied by grandparents or adult kids with families, or separately rented for income generating purposes.

As the Central Coast population continues to grow, the idea of attached housing may become more appealing, increasing the number of residents in these houses. There may be an increase in environmentally conscious materials as they become more affordable.

However, the demographic of larger households on the Central Coast is likely to continue the popularity of larger homes.

NSW Mid North Coast Property Review

This month we look at how property has evolved in our market over the past years, why it has changed and how it is performing today.

The major township in our region, Port Macquarie, is made up or many diverse types of accommodation, from high rise units, holiday apartments, townhouses and villas through to residential houses on both large and small lots.

To the east, much of the low to high rise unit accommodation was built from the 1970s through to the 1990s accommodating young singles or older retirees. Most of these buildings are located close to the town centre and beaches and within walking distance of the CBD, local shops, beaches, public facilities and transport.

Over the past ten years we have seen a push away from high rise units and therefore building of this type of development has slowed. An influx of families settling in Port Macquarie has led to family orientated, more conventional homes becoming most popular.

To the west of Port Macquarie there is a limited number of older established residential areas generally developed with Department of Housing style residences during the late 1970s and 1980s. These areas are now seeing gentrification and these previously predominantly rental areas are now becoming more owner-occupied and are being renovated. This area is becoming more popular as the urban sprawl continues to the west.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the growth of Port Macquarie was predominantly to the south. The areas of Hastings, Shelly and Lighthouse Beach have a good display of these types of dwellings.

During recent times the medical and education sectors of Port Macquarie have drastically expanded and the property market has seen an increase in demand for large and small residential homes and villas or granny flats within the western areas, including Sovereign Hills, Thrumster, Brierley Hill and Ascott Park.

Land lot sizes have also decreased over the past decade. Older subdivisions predominantly have larger lots ranging from 700 to 900 square metres, however new residential subdivisions are developing with average lot size of between 450 and 600 square metres. This trend is partly due to increasing development costs and developers attempting to make development more profitable and partly due to more demand for low maintenance properties (for both our ageing population and younger couples with no children).

Dwelling sizes have also changed with smaller 3-bedroom dwellings becoming more popular, especially for retirees. This market has also expanded for new dwellings to consist of a 3-bedroom dwelling plus a 2-bedroom attached granny flat, all under the same roof. These are providing either a benefit to the purchaser by way of having close family members reside with them or providing an income by way of leasing.

Another popular trend focus is dwelling layout and design, with many builders now offering reduced function areas and expanded living areas, with features such as activity rooms, media rooms, office nooks, etc.

At present demand for vacant land is meeting supply, however with a large number of lots soon to be released at Lake Cathie together with the backlog of public infrastructure and facilities requiring development, the Lake Cathie area may have an oversupply of vacant land and cause market stagnation. This in turn may add more pressure to further expand the fringe residential subdivisions of Port Macquarie and increase demand for local existing dwellings.

For the most part though, residential dwellings of 3– to 4-bedrooms are still out performing all other types of dwellings with good capital growth and rental returns. This demand is evident from sales of land and dwellings within the new residential subdivision sites surrounding Port Macquarie.

Tamworth Property Review

Throughout Tamworth the traditional housing style is the 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom brick and tile dwelling set on 600 to 1,000 square metres. These dwellings consistently sell well to both owner occupiers and investors and rent well throughout the year. While this style is consistent throughout Tamworth we are beginning to see a shift in certain suburbs. In East Tamworth it is the double brick federation style homes being chased by owner occupiers, while in the newer suburbs it is the 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom dwelling with built-in garage and under main roof entertaining areas.

As Tamworth continues to expand we expect to see the trend towards newer and larger dwellings continue. The biggest driver for this is the range of land available. With vacant lots available from 600 square metres up to two hectares and everything in between, it is giving owners options and allowing them to build to their requirements, whether that is family (4,000 square metre lots) or first home owners (600 square metre lots). The inner suburbs have seen little change over the past decade in terms of housing style.

A growing trend that has occurred over the past three years is the duplex style property, in particular dwellings with a main 3- to 4-bedroom dwelling at the front and an attached 2-bedroom flat to the rear. These have become quite popular with investors with several building companies now offering variations of this to the market. Traditional attached dwellings such as units remain the domain of single residents and renters, however semi-detached townhouses have certainly gained popularity with retirees over the past few years.

Overall the housing trend in Tamworth has remained fairly similar over the past decade. There has been a small shift towards larger family homes with a difference of around 20 square metres of living area between the average 4-bedroom home built in the mid 2000s and those built in 2017. The general style though has remained fairly consistent and we expect this to continue.

Bathurst Property Review

Housing has changed as building methods and materials have changed. The region has some of the oldest remaining dwellings in Australia outside of Sydney with Bathurst being established in 1815. The traditional method includes brick outer and interior walls with internal timber floors on piers. The majority of timber found is cypress known to be sourced from Eugowra. The benefit of such timber is that it is not attractive to termites.

Glass was originally an expensive item when it was not produced in Australia and only available from England from where it was shipped in small regular sized squares which were pieced together to form a window. Windows were much smaller then due to cost and there are still some examples in existence.

A notable change in Australia over time has been the enjoyment, and even preference, for eating outdoors, or in a room that allows as much of the outdoors as possible. Early culture was obviously adopted from the customs in England where outdoor eating does not seem to be very popular, but seems to be part of the culture in places such as France with its cafes and Germany with its beer gardens. Up market older style dwellings will most often have a dining room. These days there is rarely a dining room but more of an open plan area with room for a table. However, it’s rare that a new house does not have an alfresco dining area which is great for barbecues. Personally, I would like to see the dining room make a comeback, but not to detract from our outdoor lifestyle or casual dining habits. To many, a dining room can seem pretentious and may conjure up the idea of sitting up straight with one’s elbows off the table. Although it would have been unthinkable in the past to use a dining room for anything but what its name suggests, as situations change a dining room can be so much more and can also reflect modern living. It can be a rumpus or a toy room for children, it can be a work room and take on the functions of an office, or it can be a music room as a good spot to have an upright piano. Or, of course, when entertaining and it is too cold to eat outside, which is more of the year in this part of the country, then the dining room can be just that.

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