Regional NSW

The Smartline Report – September Edition

The month in review: Regional NSW

By Herron Todd White
September 2016

Southern Highlands
The Southern Highlands residential property market has seen a marked increase in activity in both volume and prices over the last two years. There has been a noticeable increase in activity by investors, rental levels increased and are now steady. The increasing price trend is very strong in the lower to middle price brackets, up to $2 million. Properties over $2 million are steady and also trading more briskly. The tree change buyer relocating from Sydney is the main active buyer type. Traditionally the Southern Highlands property type is the older style character home (1890s to 1950s) that are within short walking distance of the town centres and local amenities. There has also been good renovation and extension activity in these well located, traditional property
types in Old Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale.

There is also an emerging property type of suburban style modern and semi-modern homes on land sizes of 700 square metres up to 4,000 square metres. These modern homes appeal predominantly to young families. There has been good land sales activity in the now established residential subdivision precincts such as Renwick Estate (Mittagong), Bingara Gorge (Wilton) and more recently smaller more affordable lots at Darraby Estate (Moss Vale) and Nattai Ponds (Braemar). This uptick in activity has seen the emergence of residential infill developments in the townships of Bowral and Mittagong, with established larger land lots being subdivided into
smaller allotments which are keenly sought after. If interest rates remain at these historically low levels, we consider these market increases to be sustainable and should continue over the next six months.

Similar to the Highlands, there is now a mix of traditional property types in the Southern Tablelands. Previously, demand was for well located older homes and while these remain sought after, there has also been a push for modern family homes. Goulburn has seen steady to increasing trends over the last five years. There have been good land sales in the new, modern residential estates in Goulburn, including the Belmore Estate, Merino Country Estate and the Mistful Park Estate. There is good construction activity of new homes being built.

Goulburn is rich in heritage architecture and there is also good renovation construction activity in these older character homes. The main buyer type is the tree change buyer from Sydney or Canberra, the Canberra commuter and the Sydney investor. The market in Crookwell is also steady.

The rural residential property market (two to 100 hectares in land size) is steady to increasing slightly throughout the Southern Tablelands, with good activity from Canberra commuters and rural lifestyle
buyers from Sydney.

NSW Central Coast
The Central Coast region of New South Wales is located immediately to the north of the Sydney metropolitan area and this has benefits for the residents of both inasmuch that coast residents can duck down the motorway for work in Sydney and the metro people can duck up the motorway for a break on the coast.

Travelling between the coast and Sydney is easy, but the ease of access has presented many opportunities over many years with buyers of real estate coming from all types of background. The type of real estate and various locations here has resulted in a cosmopolitan range of dwelling types. There doesn’t seem to be a traditional type of home that signifies arrival on the coast.

We still see the odd beach or fisherman’s shack in some areas, but right next door will be a modern, architectural dwelling. We still see original farm dwellings with all their grit and practicality, but next
to it will be a sprawling modern home with a pool and tennis court.

As time passes and the region develops, we have seen many examples of knock down and rebuilds, renovations, extensions and value adding being exercised. This however is mostly occurring in the
beach side areas as demand and values grow.

Moving away from the beachside areas to the outer lying suburbs, a whole identity is being established with new land being created to cater for new and affordable housing requirements.

These areas include the Warnervale Release Area which includes the suburbs of Woongarrah, Hamlyn Terrace and Wadalba. The land created has consistently enjoyed a good take up rate and new, project style homes are abundant in these areas.

So if there is an embedded but not yet traditional style of housing, the emergence of housing estates would have to be it. The underlying reason for the growth in popularity of this style of housing can be linked to the influx of buyers from Sydney who have found themselves out priced there. To many, the affordability and better lifestyle has proven a blessing.

As mentioned, the type of housing is essentially project style that takes the generalised form of 4- or 5-bedroom, 2 or 3-car garage on a reasonably flat block with a pool in the back yard. Price points for these properties start from the mid $500,000 and this is very satisfying and affordable.

These new estates are toward the northern end of the region and if looking to the south, vacant land is harder to find, but not impossible. A very nice, new estate can be found at Terrigal but the price points reflect the scarcity of new land – think high $400,000 for a moderately sloping block. The odd newly developed vacant parcel can be found by the keen eyed at Narara or Lisarow at more affordable price levels.

As these new estates are developed, the embodiment of an identity for the coast will become apparent.Others  may say however, that the coast’s identity is a mixture of old and new.

NSW Mid North Coast
This month we look at traditional property types for our area and how they are performing. The Mid North Coast is a diverse and widely ranging area with varying types and styles of dwellings. In the inland towns and villages we can often see the older style 1900s and 1940s dwellings that are centrally located around the original town centre.These dwellings have always been popular as rental properties due to their central location close to
services. In recent times we have noticed they are also becoming more sought after by owner occupierswho wish to renovate and upgrade.

Along the coastal towns we see a range of styles from the basic 1950s holiday shack to the more modern and contemporary style dwelling. Both types of property currently are well sought after, although by different demographic buyers.

Potential owner occupiers are often looking at the more modern dwellings, while the investor or holiday house purchasers are quite happy to buy an old beach shack and do it up or demolish and build a coastal style dwelling. These city investors look at these older properties as land value only and are happy to invest in a new high value property in these coastal locations.

Thus, the fibro beach shack is slowly disappearing from our coastline, being replaced by modern contemporary style, coastal dwellings. On a more general note, the Mid North Coast residential property market continues to be strong with limited stock currently available through all segments and the market remaining buoyant with
more buyers than sellers.

In the larger centre of Port Macquarie, the sub $500,000 market is quickly disappearing and continues to sell very quickly whenever properties come onto the market. The $600,000 to $700,000 price range is becoming the norm for an average modern dwelling in the established residential estates.

As noted last month, rents have eased slightly, however current good demand is still evident around the CBD, hospital and Charles Stuart University areas. We note that there are several student accommodation style developments currently under construction within these areas and once complete, will provide good supply and therefore rental growth may slow.

The Central West is one of the earliest areas to be settled by Europeans outside of the Sydney Basin. Bathurst celebrated 200 years since proclamation in 2015. This history is reflected in the development in the area. The age and style of many dwellings cannot be found in other regional areas and they are synonymous with the local tradition.

The oldest standing building is the Old Government Cottage in Bathurst. It was erected in 1817 and is on the banks of the Macquarie River at the bottom end of George Street. Volunteers open the cottage for visitors on Sundays from 12 to 4. For residential dwellings there are numerous examples dating from the 1840s onwards. Until recently, limited value was seen in dwellings of such age, particularly if they were in poor condition, but there is now a trend towards retaining and renovating these traditional dwellings and a strong market for such properties.

These dwellings were built in the Victorian era. They feature symmetrical layouts and facades, a centrally located front door and a hipped metal roof, leading to a front verandah. The original floor plan would follow the Colonial style with a central hallway and four rooms. After 1850, dwellings were decorated with cast iron lace work. In Bathurst this was the style favoured by the early railway workers which would later include Ben Chifley. Unlike homes in Queensland, larger verandahs on all sides did not take off due to the cooler climate. We can see that they have all been well maintained and have new roofs. They have probably been extended to the rear to bring in the originally separate kitchen and bathroom.

In Orange, my classical dwelling pick is for personal reasons. According to electoral rolls it was once  owned by the cousin of my great-grandfather, Albert Edward Horspool. He was listed as a farmer, most likely an orchardist. The dwelling seems to be 1920s to 1930s bungalow style with a touch of art deco. It’s nice to see that it has been so well looked after.

Byron Shire
The Byron Shire has a vast array of property types, however the townships of Bangalow and Mullumbimby come to mind when thinking of traditional properties in the region.

In the town of Bangalow you will find relocated Queenslanders and older dwellings that pre-date the 1940s and they are very much in demand and attract a premium even when the property is in need of renovation. Character is the key to attracting purchasers and premiums.

Mullumbimby also fares very well with its older character buildings that date between the 1930s and 1950s, however these properties must be located within close proximity of the CBD to attract premiums.

These older style properties form the character of these townships and will continue to stand the test of time.

Ballina Shire
There has been a major shift in the Ballina Shire in the past five to ten years where new residential developments have seen a vast amount of land becoming available and also the rise of the project
4-bedroom, 2-bathroom modern style dwelling with an average of 160 to 200 square metre living and outdoor entertaining areas. This is fast becoming the traditional property type in Wollongbar, Alstonville and Cumbalum.

Younger couples will also tend to purchase older character properties in original condition around Alstonville and Wollongbar as an entry into the market and renovate before selling up. Lennox Head’s traditional dwellings consisted of beach shacks but these are disappearing and being replaced with modern dwellings and units. All in all, the area has had a major shift in the preference of housing type and thus the traditional property is a modern new approach.

Lismore City has a wide variety of dwelling types that span over one hundred years. At one extreme of the scale we have the flood prone, low lying areas of North and South Lismore, typified by high-set timber dwellings of early settlement and at the other, the modern and contemporary brick and lightweight clad residences of Goonellabah set high on a hill or ridge overlooking the city and beyond to the hinterland….. and then there is everything in between.

However, the style of housing which is regarded as the traditional property type of Lismore is found in the popular suburb of Girards Hill. Thanks to the foresight of our forebears, this particular enclave has been heritage protected through various local authority control plans over the years and provides an interesting insight into how life could have been in the early years of settlement.

Wide timber weatherboard walls, high arches, ornate timber fretwork, VJ timber internal lined walls, polished timber floors, wide verandas, pulley system timber sash windows, ornate plaster cornices and roses with ceilings well above the standard height of most modern houses, all of which have stood the test of time and have received a lot of favourable attention by the local market. The large site area is also typical, although, slowly over time many of the sites have been subdivided. There is but a handful of quarter acre sites left (or in post modern
terminology, sites of 1,012 square metres or more).

Some of Lismore City’s record sales emanate from this suburb, particularly the fully renovated house that, while providing modern appliances, maintains the overall presentation and feel of the interior to provide that heritage look. For example, 7 Darsham Street, Girards Hill recently sold for $740,000 on 09 May 2016. The house is a 120 year old beauty with teak and hardwood timber features and decorative ceilings all nicely packaged on 2,897 square metres – quite simply, rare and hence valuable to the like minded property owner.

There is a plethora of evidence in this traditional heritage area where well presented homes are reaching $400,000 plus. Another factor playing into the area’s favour is the relatively close proximity of the CBD and all the services that come with it.

Even an original home lacking renovation has keen interest, as acquiring a property in a closely held area and working a bit of elbow grease can provide a possible capital gain windfall, if done properly. However it is well known that while such older style timber homes look appealing, they can possibly hide nasty surprises which when irritated by hammer and crow bar can cause all manner of catastrophic flutters within the unamused wallet.

However, as said, these buildings have graced Lismore City for over 100 years and providing they are maintained and shown TLC, they will continue to stand long into the future.

The Clarence Valley
Grafton was established in 1851 and with that came the federation style housing which to this day is the township’s grand tradition. The town has many historic buildings which attract a premium when they are well restored and the original character is kept throughout.

However, when these buildings are not restored and need extensive renovating, they are not as favourable due to the costs involved and the likelihood of over-capitalising.

Maclean’s more traditional housing is the post war fibrous cement sheeting and corrugated iron roof cottages. This property type is usually at entry level in the region’s market particularly when the property is in original condition and it is common to see younger couples purchase these properties to get a foot into the property market and renovate them to sell.

Coffs Harbour
What is the traditional property type in Coffs Harbour? Given that it is relatively young compared to many other areas of the state, we see the majority of homes constructed between the 1970s and 1990s. General housing styles range from the basic early fibrous cement or timber cottages to the more current project style or traditional brick and tile dwellings typically on lot sizes ranging between 400 and 1000 square metres. The more sought after beach and harbour side localities do see more prestige properties constructed especially over the
past ten to 20 years.

Typically the majority of market pressure is on the low to mid section of the market which for houses is $350,000 to $550,000 and units $200,000 to $450,000. Traditionally Coffs Harbour has had a relatively low socio-economic base which is why we see the majority of buyer pressure on the affordable sector of the market. The availability of new land for construction is diminishing (although there are several larger developments planned) and land values have generally increased, ranging between $200,000 to $250,000, and the ability to build a new
home under $500,000 is becoming more difficult. The demand for rental accommodation is also remaining strong which is making Coffs Harbour very attractive to investors and adds to the pressure on the sub $550,000 value range. With investors and home owners competing within this affordable sector, we have seen prices gradually rise over the past 12 to 18 months.

There are several well established traditional beachside locations that continue to experience strong demand from investors and homeowners, such as Sawtell to the south, the Jetty/Harbour precinct and Moonee Beach, Sapphire Beach and Emerald Beach to the north. These areas have experienced continued demand from homeowners trying to secure their piece of paradise by the sea, while investors are seeking older homes on larger sites that can be redeveloped for units. Often these buyers are competing for the same type of property
within the $500,000 to $650,000 price range.

The township of Woolgoolga, 25 kilometres north of Coffs Harbour, is also experiencing new development within the central location close to the CBD and beach. Several older style cottages along the headland and central town positions are being purchased for redevelopment for more upmarket housing or higher density development. This is also coupled with increasing commercial activity in the cafe and restaurant scene in line with the area’s increased popularity as a holiday destination or permanent address. Prices here range from the
older style 1950 to 1980 renovator’s delight around the $450,000 to $500,000 mark to the prestigious headland localities where $800,000 plus is required to secure the same style home of varying quality and design.

The Coffs Coast locality has experienced strong growth over the past two to three years due to continual population growth, resurgence in local tourism, upgrading of major road infrastructure, decreasing interest rates, increasing industrial base, growing health sectors and lifestyle factors. All of these factors have seen traditional housing slowly making way for new development in the form of modern housing estates within the suburban localities and low to high-rise unit development within the older established coastal areas


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