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While it’s become apparent that regional housing markets have stolen the spotlight, having outpaced their capital city counterparts in 2020, new research has shown that inland rural towns have also sprouted in popularity.
Housing values across regional Australia climbed 7.9 per cent in 2020, surpassing the growth rate recorded across the combined capital cities by over four times, the latest CoreLogic Property Pulse has revealed.
The top areas attracting buyer attention include high-profile regions such as Byron Bay and Noosa, including semi-rural markets like wine regions and hinterland locations close to the major metro regions.
While the likes of Byron and Noosa have an understandable appeal, Tim Lawless, CoreLogic’s research director, also noted strong housing market conditions in further inland rural markets.
According to CoreLogic, with an apparent revival of the mining sector in certain regions, higher commodity prices as well as rise in investments have sent house prices surging.
“These areas generally do not provide commuting options back to major working nodes, nor the broad-based lifestyle appeal of coastal markets or hinterland locations. But they do provide a variety of other benefits such as low housing prices, low population densities and a rural lifestyle that may appeal to many,” Mr Lawless explained.
He explained that part of the appeal is that these regions tend to exist within their own economic ecosystem, which are driven by agriculture, mining operations and tourism, infrastructure investment or government services.
Many of the top inland rural areas – located at least 200 km from the capital city metro regions – have emerged from long-running drought conditions, while others are benefiting from higher commodity prices, which has driven a lift in mining-related investment.
As such, as many as 32 of the 91 regions had house values tracking at record highs in January 2021.
“Council regions where housing values were at record highs were generally skewed towards the largest rural population centres, where economic conditions generally show greater diversity. Seven of the 10 largest population centres recorded house values at historical highs,” said Mr Lawless.
Of the council regions analysed, the areas of Central West and North Western Queensland comprised four of the top five regions for the largest rise in house values over the past year.
Winton in Queensland had the highest increase in housing values over the past 12 months at 40.5 per cent to a median value of $120,368.
Meanwhile, the most affordable top rural location can also be found in Queensland, at Murweh, which saw a 32.1 per cent increase in values to a median of $89,569.
Overall, the top 10 areas with the highest rise in housing values over the past 12 months are:
1. Winton (Qld) - 40.5 per cent | $120,368
2. Cloncurry (Qld) - 37.1 per cent | $167,507
3. Roxby Downs (SA) - 32.7 per cent | $231,437
4. Murweh (Qld) - 32.1 per cent | $89,569
5. Mount Isa (Qld) - 23.1 per cent | $248,249
6. Walcha (NSW) - 22.3 per cent | $265,387
7. Narromine (NSW) - 21.1 per cent | $212,460
8. Maranoa (Qld) - 18.2 per cent | $204,341
9. Yarriambiack (Vic) - 17.6 per cent | $131,477
10. Moree Plains (NSW) - 16.9 per cent | $153,804
“Overall, Australia’s inland rural markets offer up a diverse array of living options, generally with low price tags,” Mr Lawless commented.
However, with affordability appealing to buyers countrywide, he cautioned that there are risks when jumping into rural markets, especially for investors accustomed to city markets.
“Prospective city folk interested in relocating to the rural areas of Australia might be better off ‘testing the waters’ by renting before buying… just to make sure the rural lifestyle is really their cup of tea,” the research director concluded.