Western Australian regional towns record double-digit growth

Tight stock levels and heavy demand continue to put upward pressure on prices in most of Western Australia’s large regional centres, according to new data.

Port Hedland in Western Australia’s north was the state’s top performed regional market over the June quarter.

The mining town saw house prices increase 6.1 per cent, taking the median price to $498,500, according to the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA).

Albany, in the state’s south, also performed strongly, with values up 2.1 per cent over the quarter, with the median price hitting $480,000.

Other strong performers over the quarter were Esperance (1.8 per cent), Karratha (1.5 per cent, Geraldton (1.4 per cent) and Bunbury (1.2 per cent).

On an annual basis, Albany was the strongest regional market, with values increasing 10.3 per cent, with Busselton (10 per cent) the only other market to post a double-digit gain.

While the tourist hotspot of Broome was the only regional centre where the median house price declined.

REIWA President Joe White said Port Hedland, in particular, was seeing a lot of activity at the more affordable end of the market.

“Members report demand is higher in the $250,000-$400,000 price bracket and properties are selling quickly, while $600,000-$700,000 family homes are taking longer to sell,” Mr White said.

“Both local owner-occupiers and interstate investors are active in the market.

“NSW investors, in particular, are increasingly interested in Port Hedland, seeking to capitalise on the significant range of new infrastructure and resource projects underway that will boost employment and the need for accommodation.”

Mr White said delays in the building industry were also supporting demand in the established homes market.

“A lack of building development in the area means it is often cheaper and more convenient to purchase an existing property,” he said.

Median house price growth

Regional centre Median house sale price Three-month change 12-month change 
Albany $480,000 +2.1% +10.3% 
Broome $640,000 -1.5% -1.5% 
Bunbury $430,000 +1.2% +7.5% 
Busselton $680,000 +1.0% +10.0% 
Esperance $420,000 +1.8% +5.0% 
Geraldton $375,000 +1.4% +0.0% 
Kalgoorlie $347,500 +0.7% +5.3% 
Karratha $558,500 +1.5% +7.4% 
Port Hedland $498,500 +6.1% +7.2% 
Source: REIWA

For renters, the news was not as good, with rents increasing in seven of the major regional centres.

Esperance saw the most growth in rents, increasing 26.9 per cent to $425 per week, which was the highest quarterly change for the region since records began in 2007.

While rents also surged in Karratha (17.6 per cent) where the median rent hit $1000 per week along with Geraldton (11.1 per cent) which saw rents rise to $400 per week.

Mr White said the surge in rents in Esperence comes on the back of incredibly tight supply.

“As with all regional centres, rental conditions are very tight in Esperance,” Mr White said.

“Investors have sold their properties and they are being purchased by owner occupiers rather than other investors. It’s a common occurrence across the state. 

“This gap between supply and demand continues to put pressure on rent prices.”.

Mr White said regional employers were finding innovative solutions to house workers amid the challenging rental conditions.

“Members have reported several instances of large organisations purchasing motel accommodation to house their workers,” he said.

“We’re also aware of a local shire and small businesses purchasing investment properties for their workers to live in.”

Median weekly rent

Regional centre Median weekly rent price Three-month change 12-month change 
Albany $455 +1.1% +13.8% 
Broome $1,000 +7.5% +28.2% 
Bunbury $540 +4.9% +16.1% 
Busselton $650 +3.2% +8.8% 
Esperance $425 +26.9% +18.1% 
Geraldton $400 +11.1% +9.6% 
Kalgoorlie $550 +0.0% +10.0% 
Karratha $1,000 +17.6% +29.9% 
Port Hedland $800 -5.9% +15.1% 
Source: REIWA

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Rowan Crosby

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