28 Mar 2019

Downsizers seek more affordable housing in regional locations

More and more Australians are appreciating better lifestyles in locations outside of capital city areas, according to Australia’s leading professional body representing independent buyer’s agents.

Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) president Rich Harvey said with property prices cooling in several major city markets, downsizers particularly were seeing the appeal of regional property locations.

“While it costs eight to 10 times the average income just to buy a median priced house in Melbourne and Sydney, prices in established regional areas are less than five times the average income,” said Mr Harvey. “After selling their long term family home, many downsizers are looking for better value homes and seeking a lifestyle change.”

During the five years between the last two census, 400,000 people have relocated away from a capital city locations.

Simon Pressley, buyer’s agent with Propertyology, said housing affordability had been a huge driver of demand.

“The shift is driven by stronger economies in non-capital city locations, a desire to live in a less stressful environment, idyllic tree and sea changes, affordable housing and improved productivity through shorter commute times,” said Mr Pressley.

“Three out of every 10 Australians already choose to live somewhere other than our eight capital cities. Those eight million people love the lifestyle. Strong job growth continues to attract more people to regional Australia. A whopping 200,000 extra jobs were created in non-capital city locations during the 2017 and 2018 calendar years.”

Jennifer Smith from North Queensland Buyer’s Agency said the vast majority of her clients were lifestyle investors from Sydney and Melbourne.

“They’re thinking keenly about their retirement options, and investing now, with a view to move into it in the near future,” she said. “The interstate and overseas buyers have generally visited Cairns on holidays and want to recreate that experience by relocating to the area. To do this, the majority are downsizing, spending carefully to make sure that they will be also be able to afford a relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.”

According to Ms Smith, those buying in Cairns and Townsville are buying below $600,000.

“With the median house price in Cairns at around $400,000, and the median in Townsville at closer to $300,000, a budget of $600,000, gives some quality options,” she said.

Tiron Manning, principal of Newcastle Buyers Agent, said the enquiry from downsizers looking to escape Sydney traffic and escalating parking costs had increased steadily over the last few years.

“Besides being close to family, most are citing the lifestyle benefits of Newcastle and the region such as it beaches, restaurants and Lake Macquarie, yet still being close to Sydney by car or other capitals affordably via Newcastle Airport.”

On the Gold Coast, it’s not just retirees looking for a lifestyle change but also business owners, innovators and medical professionals who are looking for better value for money and a slower pace to raise their families without mortgage stress, according to Tony Coughran from Simply Gold Coast Property Advisors.

“Selling up property in Sydney and Melbourne and buying prestige waterfront or beachside residences in the $1.5 to $2.5 million range with change to park a boat on their jetty,” said Coughran. “The flow on effect is grandparents following them, often buying a similar style of property in close proximity to base themselves in when they visit with a view to eventually settle into in retirement.”

Coughran says as little as $370k will secure you the lifestyle with a two-bedroom, two bathroom unit one block from the beach, circa $790k will buy you riverfront 10 minutes from the beach and $1 million will open the door to various waterfront homes or a sprawling acreage with dual residences.

A little further down the coast, Michael Murray from Byron Property Search said a change of lifestyle was the number one reason home buyers were looking to move home and purchase in the northern rivers area.

His buyers are buyers predominantly from Sydney and Melbourne looking for properties in the $1 to $2 million price bracket.