Lower property prices, abundant space, a chance to get back to nature - rural living has a lot of desirable features. This has only been amplified by new work-from-home arrangements, which is allowing buyers to think in terms of lifestyle over centrality.
However, Australia’s ‘regional’ areas are incredibly diverse and not all locations promise similar growth prospects.
Whether you’re a savvy investor looking to capitalise on the regional property trend, a city dweller taking advantage of new work-from-home arrangements, or you’re simply in the market for a weekender or stunning rural home, here are three helpful factors to consider when purchasing regionally.
Location and lifestyle
From a treechange with epic bushwalking to a surf filled sea change, Australia’s regional towns are teeming with attractions. Given their lower price points, regional property is an accessible entry point to the lifestyle you want to live.
“Location is one of the biggest drivers of demand, liveability, and desirability in regional property markets. If it is somewhere you want to live or visit, chances are, so will others like you,” says Peter Hanscomb, CEO of Belle Property.
“If you’re looking to turn your purchase into a holiday home, evaluate the seasonality. The most desirable seasons to stay somewhere are also the most lucrative to rent out, so try to visit the area in the off-season to make sure it’s still somewhere you’d be happy to stay,” says Peter.
If you’re planning to relocate permanently, look beyond the natural attractions to what the area has to offer year-round and how that will affect your lifestyle. Sitchu’s suburb search tool provides a quick snapshot of local dining and culture, as well as education, public spaces and transport options which can be used to guide your thinking.
While current work-from-home restrictions have allowed city-dwellers to explore areas outside of their standard commuting range, it hasn’t eliminated the city altogether.
Proximity to a capital city will always be in demand amongst buyers. Look for regional property locations that are well positioned on major train or highway routes to provide accessibility back to the city for those doing occasional commutes.
Long-term economic prospects
Regional property markets can be more volatile than their metropolitan counterparts, so take the time to understand the local economy and market prospects and how this may impact future property prices.
Some questions to ask to understand long-term market strength include:
Internal migration: How many people have moved into an area and where did they come from? By looking from 2019 backwards, you can see what demand there was for the area amongst local and out-of-towners.
Employment prospects: What industries support the economy and what employment opportunities are there? This suggests how you, or future buyers, could fit in in a year or ten years if working from home is no longer an option.
Future developments: Are there any major development projects on the horizon that could impact the area for better or worse? While new property developments could lower demand for your own property, new hospitals, retail centres or infrastructure projects could attract future buyers and renters.
“One of the great things about a regional town is the close-knit community so working with a knowledgeable agent who is familiar with the local market can give you an inside edge. My advice to city-dwellers would be to have a region in mind that you would like to purchase in as well as an idea of what you want from your property. Then work with an agent to evaluate specific suburbs or properties to fit these goals,” says Peter.