In The Spotlight - Ballarat
This month, we spoke with Director and Rural Lifestyle Property Specialist at McGrath Ballarat, Matthew Edwards, about what’s in store for the region over spring. Rail upgrades between Melbourne and Ballarat have made the region sought-after for professionals who want rural lifestyles but still have easy access to the city for meetings.
Spring is the traditional peak selling season for residential property and the rural lifestyle sector is no different. As the bitter cold of winter eases to reveal replenished landscapes, the charm of rural living is again a picture post-card setting. Additionally, the prospect of buying and settling before Christmas is a great motivator for the market.
Ballarat’s rural lifestyle market has been in the crosshairs of owner-occupants since the pandemic broke out. The town was one of several regional communities embraced by Melburnians who were disenchanted by the Victorian capital’s prolonged lockdowns. (Restrictions in Regional Victoria lifted well-before Melbourne) .
While the near zero cash rate encouraged many city residents to leap out of the rental cycle and into ownership in regions around Australia, Mr Edwards said Ballarat’s rural lifestyle market attracted existing inner-city owners who wanted more ‘bang for their buck’.
“Those who were selling-out of Melbourne wanted the sense of space after lockdowns,” said Mr Edwards.
“The demand was focused on rural lifestyle properties between five and 20 acres so the purchaser’s could have a decent house, kids could have a pony and enough room to maybe put in a pool and enough room for maybe some additional sheds”.
According to CoreLogic data for July, the wider Ballarat area achieved steady growth of 7.9% over the last 12 months.
But Mr Edwards said the rural lifestyle market outperformed the growth achieved in town.
In 2020, Mr Edwards personally transacted over 100 properties for an average price of $620,000. His average sale price is now closer to $800,000 – a 27% uplift.
And demand hasn’t just come from the city exodus which, he said, is beginning to taper-off as corporates bring workers back to the city.
Locals have been active upgraders. Many purchasers have been locals who have capitalised on Ballarat’s growth, using their town homes as ‘stepping stones’ to rural lifestyles.
Over June and July, when the RBA enacted consecutive rate rises, Mr Edwards said there was caution in the market, resulting in fewer buyer engagements.
“But I think there’s a consensus that we’ve normalised and returned to activity that’s similar to pre-Covid,” said Mr Edwards.
“I don’t foresee the property market dropping out in our area. I’ve got six to seven offers on the same number of country lifestyle properties – some have been in the market for a while and some are new listings.
“I think people have gotten to the point where they’ve accepted that interest rates are out of their hands. Right now, rural lifestyle properties are priced between $1-$1.5m market are still attracting interest”.