Record demand for regional NSW property continues

Record real estate activity in many areas of regional NSW has local agents predicting more strong house price growth ahead.

With Sydney property prices incredibly strong and even smaller cities such as Newcastle also booming, experts believe buyers are continuing to look further afield.

Regional house prices in NSW have grown 26.7 per cent due to the combination of low-interest rates and the flight from tight city lockdowns, with many local agents are starting to call it the strongest market they’ve seen in 30 years.

Director of Professionals Wagga Wagga, Paul Irvine believes the appeal of regional areas is more than a desire to leave the big cities.

“Affordability seems to be the main theme at the moment from buyers. Many people were already considering a bit of a tree change and COVID just provided that gentle push,” Mr Irvine said.

“However, the reason I think Wagga is particularly strong at the moment is because it has a large population, complemented with defence housing, a university, huge agriculture and medical.

“We’ve really got our own economic bubble right here which makes the region self-sufficient regardless of what happens in Sydney.”

Mr Irvine said while they were seeing record growth, Sydney and Melbourne based investors were only a small portion of the activity.

“Sydney investors have really started to hit Wagga in the last six months, and they’re picking up the sub-$300K stock, and then the owners who are selling are upgrading and so on. I’ve been seeing a lot of internal selling because it’s cheaper to buy than rent.”

Raine & Horne Network Manager NSW/ACT, Travis Wentriro said the appeal of regional areas was growing given the changing nature of workplaces.

“Sydney’s house prices have played a part in the move to the Riverina. Homeowners have recognised they can work from an office in a spare bedroom or granny flat, keep their Sydney salary, and move to Griffith or Leeton and have a different life,” Mr Wentriro said. 

“Companies, whether they are in IT, professional services, engineering, architecture or marketing services, are playing their part too by helping their employees get set up at home in a regional area.”

Mr Wentriro believes downsizers, and sea and tree changers are also looking towards areas such as Tea Gardens, Hawkes Nest and Forster-Tuncurry given their price points and lifestyle.

“These towns are within a one-hour drive from Newcastle and that city’s world-class amenities including John Hunter Hospital and Newcastle Airport, with flights to many Australian capitals, some major regional towns and Auckland.”

Mr Wentriro said locations such as Forster Tuncurry could also see further demand from buyers.

“Forster-Tuncurry is three hours from Sydney by dual highways and is a magnificent coastal location. However, from a location standpoint, the town is just two hours from Newcastle for shopping, to catch a Newcastle Knights game or a flight to Cairns.

“There’s no doubt that flexible work, which enables more people to operate from home offices, is making mid-north coast towns such as Hawkes Nest, Tea Gardens and Forster-Tuncurry more appealing to working-age buyers than in the past.

“Moreover, booming property values on the NSW South Coast are also prompting more Sydney buyers to look towards the mid-north coast towns with their proximity to a world-class city such as Newcastle.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.