As the property downturn deepens across most capital cities, savvy investors are eyeing off overlooked regional areas where they can get more bang for their buck.
New analysis from PDRnationwide has identified the 12 most affordable local government areas across regional Australia, all of them in the eastern states.
New South Wales and Victoria topped the list, with each featuring four of the most affordable areas. Queensland followed with three and Tasmania had one.
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Research manager at PRDnationwide Dr Asti Mardiasmo says the 12 hotspots not only have median price affordability, but also provide strong indicators for investment, job growth and a sustainable economic future.
“Australians are moving away from the major cities because of affordability. Property prices are increasingly unaffordable and the cost of living has risen,” Dr Mardiasmo said.
“But on the other side you have regional areas which have had a lot of commercial development, lots of investment in infrastructure. They’re no longer your stereotypical unliveable places where people don’t go. They’re becoming cool.”
While some of the regions may seem unexpected, Dr Mardiasmo argues that it wasn’t surprising all 12 were on the eastern side of the country.
“The economic conditions in a lot of other states lend [themselves to] a higher unemployment rate, and industries that were once booming aren’t now, so we covered that in our methodology” she said.
“There are places such as the Northern Territory and Western Australia, where there’s not as much property price growth, and a lot of places were ruled out because the unemployment rate sat higher than the state average.
“There were some surprises, but this is part of the exciting thing, because we did every single local government area across the country and we found these gems people have never heard of.”
Setting the trend
During the five years between the past two censuses in 2011 and 2016, 400,000 people relocated from capital cities.
Real Estate Buyers Agent Association of Australia (REBAA) president Rich Harvey said with property prices cooling in several major cities, those looking to downsize were seeing the appeal of regional locations.
“While it costs eight to 10 times the average income just to buy a median-priced house in Melbourne and Sydney, prices in established regional areas are less than five times the average income,” he said.
“After selling their long-term family home, many downsizers are looking for better-value homes and seeking a lifestyle change.”
What to watch out for
Head of research at Propertyology Simon Pressley says investors need to look at myriad factors before buying a property.
“A majority of property investors confuse knowing their neighbourhood with [truly] understanding a property market. Schools, shopping centres and train stations do not make property prices grow,” he said.
“More important than current market conditions are factors happening behind the scenes which will impact that market over the next few years. Things like job-creation initiatives and future volumes of housing supply. It’s also very important to understand where each city is positioned within market cycles.”
Describing the market of each town and city as a “jigsaw puzzle”, Mr Pressley argues investors need to look at the whole picture.
“Whilst each piece of the puzzle is important, the economic trends within individual towns and cities are the most important pieces of the puzzle.”