INDUSTRY NEWSNEWSWA

Busselton leads the way for regional price growth in WA

The coastal community of Busselton in Western Australia’s South West was the top-performing regional centre for the December 2023 quarter, according to new data.

The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) found that Busselton’s median house sale price rose 4.2 per cent to $715,000, up from $686,000 in the September quarter.

While other regional centres including Port Hedland, Bunbury and Albany all saw strong price growth.

REIWA President Joe White said several factors were underpinning price growth in Busselton.

“The rental shortage is driving the lower end of the market as people look to buy a home and get off the rental roundabout,” Mr White said.

“Population growth and the rush to the regions are the other factors. 

“The state is seeing strong population growth overall and the fantastic South-West lifestyle continues to draw people to Busselton.”

Mr White said the airport was also having an ongoing impact of the airport on the region. 

“With three mining companies flying out of Busselton there has been a strong influx of FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) workers and their families to the area,” he said.

“They are keen to enjoy the lifestyle and the airport lets them commute with ease.

He said the high demand for homes was reflected in the number of sales in the December quarter. 

“They were 19 per cent higher than the September quarter and 5.3 per cent higher than the same time in 2022,” he said.

“While sales historically slow down over the Christmas period, there was little evidence of that this year.”

Seven of the nine regional centres recorded increases in the median house sale price over the quarter, one remained stable and one recorded a small decline.

Annually, Port Hedland recorded the most growth, with its median house sale price rising 14.1 per cent to $523,086. 

Bunbury was the next best performer annually, with a 9.5 per cent increase in its median house sale price.

Source: REIWA

In the rental market, seven regional centres recorded an increase in their median weekly rent over the quarter.

Esperance saw the most growth, with its median weekly rent increasing 21.1 per cent to $460. 

It was also the top performer over the year, with its median weekly rent increasing 39.4 per cent.

Mr White said the rent growth in Esperance reflected the shortage of rental properties in that market.

“Rental stock has dropped significantly in the last three years,” he said.

“As happened across the state, post-Covid many owners sold their investment properties.”

In Esperance some of the homes had been held for 20 to 30 years, he said.

“Meanwhile, demand remains high from both locals and people seeking to move to the area for employment,” he said.

“The increased competition is putting upward pressure on rental prices.”

Mr White said the shortage of rental properties was a huge issue for employers trying to recruit staff. 

“As a result, our members report an increase in the number of companies buying properties or taking out corporate leases to secure accommodation for employees,” he said.

Source: REIWA

Mr White said conditions in Esperance’s rental market were not expected to improve in the short term.

“The only way things will change is with an influx of new housing,” he said.

“However building is incredibly challenging, it takes over two years to build in Esperance. 

“This is a problem reflected across the regions.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.