As large swathes of rural Australia emerge from long-running drought conditions, and the mining sector benefits from higher commodity prices and a lift in investment, many rural areas are recording a surge in housing prices.
Throughout 2020, there has been a renewed focus on regional housing markets, thanks to property values outpacing their capital city counterparts.
According to the latest CoreLogic Property Pulse report, housing values across regional Australia rose by more than four times (7.9 per cent) the growth rate recorded across the combined capital city regions (1.7 per cent) over the 12 months to January 2021.
Much of the reporting on regional areas around the country has focused on the main population centres outside of the capital cities, with high-profile coastal regions such as Byron Bay and Noosa garnering plenty of attention.
Semi-rural markets such as wine regions and hinterland locations close to the major metro regions have also attracted a good deal of attention.
This is understandable, given their large populations and popularity, and most of these regions have shown substantial rises in house values over the past year.
However, many of Australia’s inland rural markets are also showing strong housing market conditions.
The majority of these areas do not offer commuting options back to major working nodes, nor the broad-based lifestyle appeal of coastal or hinterland locations.
But they do provide other benefits, including low housing prices, low population densities and a rural lifestyle that many find appealing.
These regions tend to exist within their own economic ecosystem, driven by localised factors including climatic conditions such as drought, as well as local economic drivers like agriculture, mining operations and tourism, infrastructure investment or government services.
According to the CoreLogic data, the local council area of Mount Isa in northwest Queensland recorded the highest percentage growth over the past 12 months, with values rising 23.1 per cent and median house prices now at $248,249.
Orange in NSW reached a new peak, with values increasing by 12.8 per cent and median house prices reaching $454,215.
Regional areas of Armidale and Dubbo both experienced 12.4 per cent growth to reach median values $350,347 and $341,632 respectively, and Horsham in Victoria rounded out the top five with a 12.2 per cent rise and a new median house value of $266,536.
The highest median house value was recorded for houses within Victoria’s Alpine council area at $520,588, which is about $280,000 less than Greater Melbourne’s median house value and almost $500,000 less than Sydney’s.
Median house values range from less than $90,000 in the council areas of Coonamble ($86,139) and Bourke ($89,465) in NSW, and the Queensland’s Murweh ($89,569) and Blackall-Tambo ($89,687).