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Urban dwellers create ‘unprecedented demand’ in regional hubs amid tree change trend

Urban dwellers create ‘unprecedented demand’ in regional hubs amid tree change trend

It’s no secret rusted-on city slickers have used the pandemic as a catalyst to pursue a life filled with the early calls of kookaburras, rainforest hikes and evenings winding down on a golden beach.

And regional homes have become such hot property that real estate agents in major rural hubs are now reporting major shortages, as buyers from Melbourne to Perth escape the concrete jungle.

Hotspotting founder Terry Ryder, who recently published a report titled Exodus for a More Affordable Lifestyle: Regional Areas become Hot Property, said regional towns offered a tonic for city dwellers overcome by pandemic-induced malaise.

“While pre-COVID living in a regional town and working for a city-based company may have seemed impossible, the lockdown phase has shown … [home owners] can effectively work from home and no longer need to battle peak-hour traffic to be productive,” Mr Ryder said.

Mr Ryder identified Bendigo in Victoria, the Central Coast in New South Wales, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and Rockingham in Western Australia among regions to capitalise on the tree change trend.

Buyers get more bang for buck in regional areas

Beyond a stripped-back lifestyle, he said buyers sought affordability as prices in capital cities continue to climb.

It’s a major factor Josh Kibble, a sales manager at Albury’s Drummond Real Estate, said inspired Melburnians with “pretty big money” to uproot and start a new life near the mighty Murray River.

Mr Kibble told The New Daily Melbourne’s average price ($666,796) could comfortably fetch a four-bedroom, two-bathroom property with 250 square metres of living space on a 700 to 1000-square-metre block.

“I’ve had five listings put on just this week and they’ve all sold – we’re not used to that rapid pace in our real estate market,” Mr Kibble said.

“I’ve been in real estate for 10 years and this is probably at its peak in respect to sales, volume and some of the prices we’re getting at the moment, and we’re starting to see the tree changers come through.”

The average Melbourne house price could net buyers a substantially larger home in cities such as Albury. Photo: Drummond Real Estate

City dwellers cause prices to spike – and markets to slow

Sunshine Coast real estate agent Melissa Schembri, from Next Property Group, said interstate demand was so high that a local private school received 300 applications from Victorian families in August alone.

Ms Schembri said she now fields roughly six calls a day from Melburnians and Sydneysiders for most properties on her books, with many resorting to FaceTime walkthroughs and sight-unseen purchases.

“I reckon it’s the 40 to 60-year-old age group inquiring the most, and many said they wanted to relocate here because they’ve been trying to run a business while juggling home school and being locked down,” Ms Schembri told The New Daily. 

“We sold $20 million worth of waterfront property on Culbara Street in Mooloolaba in July, and every single one of those buyers came from Brisbane, Sydney and Victoria.”

Ms Schembri said the demand for waterfront living within an hour’s drive of the hinterland has created a 10 per cent spike in prices.

Some urban dwellers are looking to the Sunshine Coast for a sea change as remote working increases in popularity. Photo: Next Property Group

In other booming regional cities, however, agents have had to intervene to ensure there are still properties available on the market.

Sims for Property director Richard Sims, who works out of Launceston, said demand for the Tasmanian city – which commands an average price tag of $350,000 to $400,000 – has become so intense that agents have been forced to slow down sales.

Mr Sims told The New Daily affordability and a strong economy – which counts major brewer James Boag and the University of Tasmania among its contributors – had combined to create “unprecedented demand”.

“From a property transaction point of view, we were up nearly 40 per cent on the June quarter,” Mr Sims said.

“Demand for these properties is so high that we have to give people time to get connected, and with so much interest from multiple purchasers, it no longer becomes what the home’s worth, it becomes what individuals are prepared to pay in that competitive situation.”

New-found buyer interest creates ‘a nightmare’

Mornington Peninsula-based Seachange Property director Geoff Oxford also said buyer interest has peaked in the three weeks since agents in Melbourne were again allowed to conduct private inspections.

Mr Oxford said the current period has been an “absolute nightmare” as clients from young families to retirees seek out a sea change.

“I would usually do two half-hour inspections for a house which would get 30 groups through, but now I have to book 30 15-minute inspections for the same amount of people,” Mr Oxford told The New Daily. 

“Not only that, buyers’ interest has spiked by roughly 500 per cent.

“The conversations are the same. COVID has given [buyers] a realisation that everything we lived in the city for no longer exists and can settle near a beach with good infrastructure, golf courses and hot springs.”

Tree changers have bought up big in regional areas such as NSW’s Hunter Valley. Photo: Jurds Real Estate

Shelly Jurd, real estate director at the Hunter Valley’s Jurds Real Estate, said half the buyers in the area were hunting a permanent regional move, with 75 properties totalling more than $100 million sold since March.

Ms Jurd said the trend caused homes to “sell like hotcakes”.

“We’ve never seen anything as strong as this,” Ms Jurd told The New Daily.

“Some properties are only staying on the market for a couple of weeks where they might have previously taken three to nine months.

“It’s certainly been [driven by] an exodus from the city, and there’s also been a lot of feedback that buyers don’t know when they’ll get to travel again, so they think it’s a good time to buy a weekend retreat.”

Australia’s top 10 affordable tree change locations

  • Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
  • Central Coast, NSW
  • Orange, NSW
  • City of Rockingham, WA
  • Launceston, Tasmania
  • Hunter Valley, NSW
  • Albury/Wodonga, NSW/Victoria border
  • Latrobe Valley, Victoria

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Yeronga trophy home fronting the Brisbane River listed

Brisbane River

A riverfront Yeronga, Queensland trophy home has been listed without a price guide.

The five bedroom, five bathroom abode is being marketed by Heath Williams and Nick Hurwood of Place.

Situated at 363 Brisbane Corso, the tri-level home fronts the Brisbane River.

Set on 916 sqm, it features two swimming pools and a private boat pontoon.

Other features include full-height stacked glass sliding doors opening out to a covered balcony which capture sweeping Brisbane River views as well as a ground-level rumpus or games room equipped with a bar, a projector and a linked balcony.

It is located seven kilometres from the CBD.


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Brisbane houses solid but inner-city unit market oversupplied: RiskWise

Brisbane houses

The impact of COVID-19 on the property market is greatly varied across this large state.

COVID-19 has significantly increased the unemployment rate in Queensland with a greater impact on regional areas, particularly those with a heavy reliance on tourism. As of August 2020, the unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent.

The sustained period of the border closure between Queensland and other states has been a contributing factor to the already substantial impact of COVID-19. This is due to the strong connection between Queensland and New South Wales and, to a lesser extent, Victoria.

COVID-19 has helped strengthen ‘work from home’ opportunities, meaning owner-occupiers can take advantage of ‘lifestyle’ prospects instead of being tied to employment hubs.

Before COVID-19 hit, there was already a strong trend of sea- and tree-change homebuyers looking for the best of all worlds – lifestyle, accessibility to employment hubs and affordable housing.

In Queensland, the areas that attract those lifestyle buyers include the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Beachside suburbs especially outperform the market as they offer fantastic lifestyle opportunities.

However, while solid house price growth may be experienced in Brisbane, the inner-city unit market remains oversupplied and, therefore, high risk.


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Whitsundays prestige market strong amid COVID uncertainty: HTW

prestige market
The high end market in the Whitsundays is performing well despite COVID and what’s happening in other areas of Australia, with lifestyle properties being sought after, according to the November report from valuation firm Herron Todd White.
HTW found that rural residential lifestyle properties are being snapped up with sales ranging from $800,000 to over $1 million.
Properties with ocean views or frontage are also being snapped up along with vacant lots in similar locations.
“There have also been two sales in the prestige unit market, both selling for over $800,000,” the Queensland-based Herron Todd White valuer Noelene Spurway said.
“We expect that once the borders are open, lifestyle properties will continue to move as the lifestyle in the Whitsundays is second to none.”
Spurway did however jest that she is maybe just a little biased.
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