Where is the next Byron Bay?

Ray White Chief Economist Nerida Conisbee has analysed which beachside suburbs could see a Byron Bay-style boost in popularity.

Byron Bay house prices surged over 70 per cent over the past 12 months and the median is now more than $2.5 million.

This was thanks in part to the pandemic encouraging Australians to move to lifestyle-centric locations and the influx of celebrity neighbours, including Zac Efron and Chris Hemsworth.

Ms Conisbee said it’s now cheaper to buy in some of Sydney’s infamously expensive beachside suburbs, even though Byron Bay is not within commuting distance from any major CBD or large employment centre. 

“There is a lot to like about Byron Bay but many features certainly aren’t unique,” Ms Conisbee said. 

“It has beautiful beaches, low-rise development and a laidback retail core. It has never been a particularly cheap town to buy in but what is unique is how quickly it has grown to global prominence and how quickly prices have risen as a result. 

“So, with so many people now priced out, where could be the next Byron Bay? Do you need a Hemsworth to take the title?”

To identify the next Byron Bay, Ms Conisbee considering the following criteria: 

  • It needs to be by the beach.
  • It can’t be within easy commuting distance to a capital city. 
  • It has to be priced under $1 million.
  • It has to be achieving decent price growth already, at least 20 per cent.
  • Rental growth also has to be strong, at least five per cent per annum.
  • Long-term growth has to be solid with annual growth of more than five per cent per annum over 10 years. 
  • She hasn’t visited all beachside areas with this criteria so she relied on internet searches to see whether the area is particularly attractive.

In New South Wales, Ms Conisbee’s top pick for the next Byron Bay is the north coast town of Yamba.

As far as a Byron Bay comparison, she said it does tick many boxes.

“Although prices have increased a lot, the median is still under $750,000 and there is no doubt, it has lots of lovely beaches,” she said. 

“It also has a lighthouse, has regular farmers’ markets and what looks to be a lively main street, which makes it already very Byron Bay-like without too many adjustments required.”

Yamba. Source: Ray White

Ray White Yamba Principal Daniel Kelly said it’s been a fairly incredible time for the Yamba market.

“The predictions of a property market crash at the start of COVID-19 have certainly been proven to be wrong, but it makes sense why,” Mr Kelly said. 

“People now appreciate their homes more than ever, and where you live has become incredibly important in terms of lifestyle.

“With Yamba being the quiet and relaxed coastal town that it is, this has become incredibly attractive to buyers in the market who have quickly realised that having outdoor surroundings that you can enjoy in your downtime is really important.

“There is no doubt that property values have increased since the start of COVID-19, and statistics show that this uplift is around 30 per cent. Despite this sudden upward shift, Yamba is still very affordable relative to other coastal areas.”

Mr Kelly, a born and bred Yamba local, said the outlook for the coastal area is also positive.

Yamba or Byron Bay
Yamba. Source: Ray White

“The geography of Yamba being surrounded by national parks and the river means that we can’t physically be over-developed,” he said.

“We are also positioned just close enough to metropolitan areas where holidaymakers can enjoy the area, but not so close that they can overwhelm the area to the point that it is detrimental to the character of the town.

“We are still considerably more affordable than areas such as Byron Bay that we are constantly compared to, but we are also very different to those areas.

“There are certainly some similarities, but the Yamba boy within me says that Yamba is always going to be Yamba, and not another Byron Bay.”

Yamba. Source: Ray White

Heading a little further afield, Ms Conisbee singled out Cape Woolamai, on the south-eastern tip of Phillip Island, in Victoria.

It’s far enough from Melbourne to make it a bit difficult to commute there, has a popular surf beach and a nice main street. It’s still relatively affordable with a median of around $600,000. 

Ray White Phillip Island agent Yvette Tancheff said there has been a significant positive change in demand for properties in Cape Woolamai.

“For sellers, it is the high prices achievable due to strong demand that is appealing for them to sell in this unprecedented hot market,” Ms Tancheff said.

Cape Woolamai. Source: Ray White

“Prices are on the increase due to a shortage of available stock and fierce competition between large numbers of buyers hoping to secure a property.

“The outlook for Cape Woolamai is very positive as more people are becoming aware of the beautiful environment on offer as well as the good infrastructure in place compared to some of the similar sized suburbs on the Island.

“I believe there is great opportunity for growth particularly when some of the original older homes are snapped up and buyers then rebuild an architecturally designed home.

“Some property owners are upgrading their own homes because they believe they won’t be able to secure another great location.”

Cape Woolamai. Source: Ray White

For those heading north for a tropical beach holiday, Ms Conisbee has chosen Palm Cove in Queensland.

She said Palm Cove is already very lovely but surprisingly is still relatively affordable with a median price under $800,000. 

“It has a nice beach, a lot of great restaurants, and you can take your dog anywhere, even on the beach,” she said. 

“There doesn’t appear to be a lighthouse but there is a market that is regularly held along the beach. And being so far north, it does provide nicer weather when southern states are cold.”

Cape Woolamai. Source: Ray White

South Australia’s Robe, Dunsborough in Western Australia and Penguin, in Tasmania, also made her list. 

“Robe is relatively affordable with a median of $435,000 but has seen almost 20 per cent price growth over the past 12 months. It has nice beaches and an historic town centre and sounds like a pretty relaxed place to visit,” Ms Conisbee said. 

“In Western Australia, the most appropriate town was Dunsborough, close to Busselton. It has a median of $670,000 with prices increasing by 10 per cent over the past 12 months. It has lots of nice beaches, shops and restaurants. As an added bonus, it’s close to Margaret River wineries.

“Penguin is on the north-west coast of Tasmania and is picturesque, has a beach and is still pretty affordable with a median under $450,000.”

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