Hemsworth Damon Olivia Byron Bay
Hemsworth, Damon and Olivia in Byron Bay. Of course, house prices are rising. Photo – Canva/various collage
  • The regional house market rose 13% over the past year, compared to 6.4% in the cities
  • Richmond-Tweed rose the fastest, which includes celebrity-popular Byron Bay
  • Byron Bay median house price is now higher than Sydney's

One of the enduring outcomes of the global pandemic may very well be the adjustment in how and where we all work.

No longer does a 3-day snap lockdown hold the fear it may have done, as we are well practised at firing up our home PCs and offices.

Another – connected – trend is that of being able to live away from city centres, taking a tree or even sea change to a regional centre, and working from there.

After all, being 2 or 3 hours away from the big smoke is how many people live in the world – why not down under? Regional towns have more and more things going for them, and the big city is not that far away in case you need it.

Regional s(pl)urge

No surprises then that the latest CoreLogic data shows that regional house prices outgrew their city counterparts over the past year.

In fact, they rose at twice the rate. Where capital city values lifted 6.4%, out in the sticks, the regional market grew 13%.

When you look at Australia’s 25 largest non-capital city regions, Richmond-Tweed (NSW) took out the number one spot with the fastest property price growth in 2020/21. The centre saw its house prices rise 21.9%, with unit prices up 15.5%.

However, when you consider that the ever-popular Byron Bay is in the regional centre, perhaps this is why Richmond-Tweed tops the bill. In Byron, you may need to beat off some Hemsworths, Matt Damon and even Olivia Newton-John if you want to own property.

Popular beachside destinations such as Suffolk Park and Lennox Heads are also nearby, as well as hinterland villages such as Bangalow.

The median house value across the Byron council area is now $1.4 million, which is higher than Greater Sydney’s median price.

Byron Bay, (postcode 2481), since 2014

[Select part of the chart to zoom in on various years, and ‘reset zoom’ button to return]

Other popular regional centres included Central Queensland (+76% increase in sales volume over the year) and Ballarat (lowest discounting average of 1.8%), according to CoreLogic.

Over in Western Australia, Bunbury, about 2 hours south of Perth, saw its house prices lift 3%, but unit prices fell 4.4% over the year. It was one of the worst-performing non-capital regional centres, together with Townsville, Queensland (where the average discount is 6.5%).

“Looking forward, regional housing markets remain well placed to record higher than average levels of demand, especially those markets that are located close enough to capital cities to provide a commuting option, and those lifestyle markets that are popular with sea and tree changers,” said Tim Lawless, CoreLogic.

“While surging values are probably good news for homeowners in these regions, for those that don’t own a home, affordability is being stretched.

Particularly for long-time locals whose incomes are unlikely to be rising at anywhere near the pace of house price appreciation, they may be forced to seek out housing options further afield.”

Tim Lawless, head of research, Asia-Pacific, CoreLogic

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