The NSW coastal property market includes undoubtedly some of the most expensive residences in Australia. Whether it be the bungalows of Byron Bay, the mansions of Mosman, or the blocks of Bondi; ‘affordable’ is certainly not the first word that springs to mind when one thinks of coastal property in NSW.
Today though I thought I’d shine a spotlight on some of the beachside real estate pockets where the median house price is under $300K. However, affordable prices do not always make for good property buying – whether for home or for investment use. So for each area I’ll mention positive attributes as well as cautions to consider for those areas.
Kempsey, NSW, 2440:
According to PropertyData.com.au, Kempsey, located in between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid-north coast; has a median house price of just $245,000, making it one of the most affordable coastal properties in the entire state. The town itself is about 20km from the actual coastline however beachside suburbs Hat Head and Crescent Head fall within the Kempsey area. The median house price is well below nearby rivals Port Macquarie (Median house price of $394K) and Coffs Harbour ($345K). Coupled with recent infrastructure upgrades such as the Kempsey Pacific Highway bypass completion – which diverts busy traffic noise around the actual town centre; bringing the ‘quiet country town’ vibe back into the town – Kempsey at first glance appears a bargain.
Dig a little deeper in your research and due diligence though and you will discover some important cautions. Firstly, according to recent Census data; unemployment rates in Kempsey are amongst the highest in NSW. This also could be influencing the high crime rates noted in town. Upon visiting the area in April 2013, I’d spoken to local agents who mentioned that whilst Kempsey did have some great drivers; the biggest challenge is that much larger neighbours Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour are the bigger employment centres, with much greater established local industry and drivers.
Nowra/Bomaderry Twin Towns, NSW, 2541:
These twin-towns have a combined population of over 34,000. Of the two, Nowra has the most affordable median house price of $237,500. Though a couple of state forests in the area attract some tourism, the area thrives on farming, and specifically dairy farming. Unlike Kempsey however; unemployment in Nowra, whilst higher than other areas in NSW, is not as severe.
So with employment prospects, a pleasant coastal living environment, and just 120km to Sydney, why are house prices not achieving a higher median value and rental rate in these towns? The answer could likely be found in tourism. Though Nowra and Bomaderry are on a river inlet that is about 12km away from the east coastline of NSW, it struggles to compete in the tourism market with popular local nearby Shoalhaven/Seven Mile Beach area (Median house price $377K). Bateman’s Bay (Median house price $343K) also secures higher house prices and rental yields, mostly likely due to it being the most accessible coastal beachside town from Canberra, and in fact drives much of its local economy from Canberra tourism.
Evans Head, NSW, 2473:
According to PropertyData.com.au; from Coffs Harbour right up to the Queensland boarder, there are no towns or cities with a sub-$400K median house price. There are a number of reasons why this area performs better in terms of house values than the south and mid-north coastal areas of NSW:
– Closer proximity to several employment nodes (Gold Coast, Lismore, and Ballina)
– Stronger tourism industry due to warmer climate
The area is home to many popular and desirable tourist getaway spots, and most come with a price tag that matches this interest. Median house prices in popular Byron Bay, for example, are $750,000. For nearby beachside Lennox Head it is $583,000. Interestingly in Lennox head, the house median price is actually lower than the unit median price, which is $599,000.
With these nearby location values in mind; Evan’s Head, coming in with a median house price of $420,000 and close proximity to regional employment hub Ballina, appears as a genuine bargain in comparison. However, Evans Head struggles to compete with its neighbours on many fronts. Firstly, the town has less than 3,000 permanent residents; with unemployment high. The town’s main source of revenue is tourism which, with its closest actual beach being over 3km from the town centre, struggles to compete. Residents find work in nearby sugar cane farming however seasonality can affect this industry. This has subdued capital price growth comparatively to Bryon Bay and Lennox Head; both of which having far greater tourism and industry infrastructure.
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