Chapter News

From the President's Desk: Back from the country

By Malcolm Gunning - REINSW President
 

Fresh from the Roadshow, REINSW President Malcolm Gunning discusses the burning issue on our regional members’ minds. After two months of travelling the length and breadth of NSW, I’m back on home turf and mulling over the feedback we received while on the Roadshow.

Starting in Sydney, REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin and I travelled to 20 different locations with presenters from the Real Estate Employers Federation, NSW Office of State Revenue, NSW Fair Trading, NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal and REI Super to bring members up to date on the latest news across all facets of our sector.

 

The Roadshow always proves to be a great chance for us at REINSW to hear what the pressure points are for our members across the state.

Burning question

As we travelled further out of the city, one question was repeatedly raised by members: “Why aren’t we seeing the same market growth in regional NSW as in Sydney?”

It is fair to say that the market in regional NSW has not improved at the same rate as metropolitan Sydney. As auction clearance rates in the city have hit record highs, the same cannot be said for the regional markets. But, why is this?

Retirees seeking a tree change have historically provided a strong outflow of residents to the regions. However, the current economic climate coupled with changing lifestyle tastes has meant the number of retirees moving to the country has dwindled in recent years.

The idea of moving to regional NSW to retire, it seems, is not resonating with Baby Boomers as much as it once did with their parents. Many are still choosing to downsize by selling their larger homes and are remaining in the city. Many prefer to invest in a compact unit where they don’t have to care for a large garden, make new friends or move away from their family.

The financial climate has also impacted on the market. As the retirement age creeps upwards, people are working for longer before considering the next stage of their life.

New migrants

Regional NSW, as Tim and I will attest, is a beautiful place with great employment opportunities, especially in the regional hubs, which are the typical home to government services and education centres.

The people who are making the move to the country are young couples who can get more ‘bang for their buck’ in the regions. They can buy a substantial home to raise their family in. Employment opportunities, as I previously mentioned, are also widespread.

Measured growth

Yet, there are pockets of growth. Places like Tweed Heads have benefited from the growth of nearby Gold Coast and the development of good infrastructure (see box). Thanks to competitive airline ticket prices, people in places such as Ballina and Byron Bay can easily commute and live in Sydney three days a week.

So while the regions may not have seen the same spikes in growth as Sydney, there is something to be said for steady growth. The appeal of the regions will never wane, however the market for properties may evolve over time to attract different buyers.


 
In the regions

Tweed Heads in northern NSW is a regional market that has shown strong growth in recent times. The Journal speaks to David Mills, Principal at McGrath Collangatta/Tweed Heads, about what is driving the market in this region.

What is the current state of the market in Tweed Heads?
The Tweed Heads market is strong. Volume of listings remains low as multiple buyer interest is occurring. Prices remain sensitive to buyers as no record prices are being set, but days on market are lower versus this time last year.

What is driving this?
Out-of-area retired couples and local downsizers are most active in the Tweed Heads area and are currently driving the market.

Who are the big employers in the area?
The hospitality, tourism and building industries are the main sources of employment for residents in the Tweed Heads area.

What impact does the proximity to the Gold Coast have on the Tweed Heads market?
Proximity to the Gold Coast’s lifestyle, facilities and amenities make the Tweed Heads market very attractive to buyers. It’s much more affordable to live in northern New South Wales (lower council and water rates etc) and buyers can still enjoy what the Gold Coast has to offer.

This article was first published in the August 2014 edition of the REINSW Real Estate Journal.