John McGrath - Regional Hotspots Attracting Remote Workers
The trend towards regional living as a result of COVID-19 and the normalisation of remote working is one of the most exciting changes in Australian property that I’ve witnessed in my 35 years in real estate.
Australia has incredible diversity amongst its regional centres from beautiful coastal beach towns to magnificent bush locations and treechange retreats and don’t forget the snowy mountains regions.
You can enjoy warmer climate in Queensland and Western Australia and cooler climate in Victoria and Tasmania. The choice is yours and the lifestyle options are endless. To top it all off, regional property is so much more affordable than our cities.
We’re only six months into the pandemic and already we’ve seen a rapid spike in demand for property in regional towns that offer attractive lifestyle, affordability and easy commuting access.
The commute back has never been easier either, with better roads and increasing regional airport services already in place, so regional centres are ready and waiting to accept this new demand.
In NSW, we’re seeing big enquiry from Sydneysiders on the Central Coast and in the Southern Highlands, Newcastle, Orange and the Illawarra.
Our McGrath Central Coast Principal, Jaimie Woodcock said good quality homes were selling for 10 per cent more than pre-virus, with the most popular being coastal acreages and renovated homes with beach views.
Jaimie tells us: “The past few months has seen a dramatic increase in enquiry from Sydney. The more well known suburbs to Sydney buyers are receiving extraordinary interest, such as Wamberal, Terrigal, Avoca, Killcare and Pearl Beach.”
There has also been especially strong demand on the Far NSW North Coast, which dominated search activity on realestate.com.au between April and June. Eight of the top 10 NSW suburbs viewed were Byron Bay, East Ballina, Casuarina, Kingscliff, Lennox Head, Tweed Heads, Bogangar and Terranora.
In Queensland, it’s the perennial seachange favourites of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast attracting a lot of attention. In Victoria, it’s Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and the high country.
Canberrans looking to leave the city are favouring Southern Tablelands towns like Yass and South Coast areas like Batemans Bay, which are easy driving distance.
It’s not just remote workers driving this trend, it’s also older couples who have brought retirement plans forward; and self-funded retirees moving money out of other investments.
There’s major infrastructure occurring in some regional areas and this presents attractive investment opportunities for those in a position to take advantage of it.
For example, Snowy 2.0 received full approval this year and is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs during the construction peak and thousands more jobs indirectly.
We’ve just opened an office in Cooma and our new Principal, Shannon Fergusson says: “We are seeing strong investor demand, who recognise the opportunities before the Snowy 2.0 Hydro projects ramps up. There is a significant shortage of rental properties available to meet the needs of contractors, in addition to general market enquiry.
“Since the onset of COVID-19, we have also experienced a large number of enquiries from both Sydney and Canberra, not only for investment, but also lifestyle. This includes weekenders and those wishing for a permanent treechange where they can work remotely and escape the pressures of city life.”
The Cooma lifestyle is pretty amazing. This lovely town is central to the snowfields; close to major shopping and services in Canberra and Queanbeyan; and only 1.5 hours to South Coast beaches.
Buyers are discovering similar recreational diversity in Mansfield Shire in Victoria’s north east, where we’ve also recently opened an office. This area provides picturesque countryside, easy access to Victorian snowfields and plenty to do locally including water skiing, horse riding and fishing.
Our McGrath Mansfield Principal, Kate McDougall says: “We are seeing an extreme spike of enquiry which has only grown during COVID-19. Buyers are spending less time in their offices and in particular wanting lifestyle properties and weekenders.”
At the moment, the state border closures are giving buyers who are relocating within their own states an advantage over interstate purchasers. This is creating more urgency.
People are buying with confidence that their homes will rise in value over the next few years. Watch this space.
The views expressed in this article are an opinion only and readers should rely on their independent advice in relation to such matters.
This article originally appeared in The Real Estate Conversation (September 21, 2020)
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