Hotspots: Grey wave sweeping Ballina

Hotspots: Grey wave sweeping Ballina
Hotspots: Grey wave sweeping Ballina

As we look to what's ahead for 2012, Property Observer is republishing some of our most noteworthy stories of 2011.

 

It just squeezed onto Your investment property’s Top 100 survey at number 100, but the small coastal Northern NSW town of Ballina offers rental yields on a par with and in some cases better than those in the large capital cities, proving the suburb has more to offer than just a giant prawn.

Ballina is 600 kilometres north of Sydney, 80 kilometres from the Queensland border and just 30 kilometres from Byron Bay.

Houses in Ballina cost under $420,000 and units are priced around the $330,000 mark, according to RP Data.

While not inexpensive, they are well below median capital city house and unit prices ($487,000 and $420,000 respectively) and substantially more affordable than Byron Bay, where the median house stands at $737,000 and $545,000 for units.

While capital growth has been about 7% over the past three years, it has accelerated over the last year, and is expected to pick up further with a wave of baby boomers expected to relocate to coastal towns over the next few years. 

According to SQM research, vacancy rates in Ballina are currently at 2.1%, and should tighten further as the population increases. 

SQM Research predicts population growth of 2% annually for the next few years, which will push up demand for housing. 

McGrath Estate Agents have recorded increased sales activity on the Northern Rivers and Tweed Coast, where Ballina is. 

In the January – June 2011 period, the two-year-old McGrath Ballina/Byron Bay offie clocked 64 sales, compared with 49 sales for the corresponding period in 2010, an increase of 41%. 

McGrath chief executive John McGrath says this activity is encouraging for regional markets and maintains there are “exceptional buying opportunities in many key lifestyle markets that were hit hard by the GFC”. 

David Mills, principal of McGrath Ballina/Byron Bay and McGrath Tweed Heads, says more than half the buyers were from out of the area with the bulk of enquiries coming via the internet or from McGrath’s in-house magazine. 

“Freestanding houses in the $450,000 to $700,000 price range are most popular. Water and beachfronts are down approximately 15% to 20% to their pre-GFC values, providing good buying opportunities, while buyer activity is on the rise,” Mills says. 

Besides the obvious coastal attractions, Ballina was rated highly by property analysts due to its good transport connections by road, rail and air.

The town is serviced by the nearby Ballina-Byron Gateway, which carries commercial flights to Melbourne and Sydney, making it particular attractive to sea changers. 

Amenities include a hospital, several schools, several supermarkets and independent grocery stores. 

As an established holiday destination, Ballina offers a wide range of leisure activities including kayaking, fishing and golf, as well as numerous restaurants and cafes.

 Barb Joblin from Ray White Ballina is selling a two-bedroom house on River Street near the harbour for $189,000 squarely targeted at the baby boomer retirees who enjoy “fishing and living on the waters’ edge”.

At the more expensive end of town Graeme Hellyar, also from Ray White Ballina, is selling a four-bedroom duplex on Dolphin Drive on the Ballina Quays with an asking price $489,000.

Investors considering purchasing in Ballina are warned that the area does suffer from coastal erosion, so while a beachfront property may seem desirable, a better investment might be properties a street or two back from the coast.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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