The Bellingen Shire Market Report by Nathan Cardow

Welcome to our monthly real estate report for February 2021…

We have had rain! And lots of it. Visitors all say the same thing-how green our valley is at the moment. At least this rainfall was forecast and expected, and one thing the experts got right ha.

In regards to the strength of our Bellingen property market, I am starting now to sound like a broken record, and still, the rush continues. More of the same, no listings, heaps of buyers, and lots of buyer competition for properties. It is great to be a property owner, but on the flip side, anyone that has yet to enter the property market must be feeling frustrated and deflated.

One thing that we have noticed here is the high rate of owner-occupier’s buying homes. Most strong property cycles that I’ve witnessed are dictated by property investors. This one, not so. It’s great to see families buying a home to live in.

Earlier this month we heard from the Reserve Bank who indicated that the official cash rate could remain at 0.1% for some time. Who would have thought we would see rates that low in our lifetime. Couple that with relaxed government lending policies in an attempt to kick start the economy. It feels to me as though our strong property cycle may have some wind in its sails yet. The family home is being seen not only as somewhere to live but also a work environment and importantly, a ‘safe haven’ in the event of similar scenarios in the future.

On a national level, the statistics that have hit my desk from Corelogic pretty well confirm what we all expected, that regional housing markets have been the centre of attention throughout 2020, due to housing values outpacing their capital city counterparts. Broadly, housing values across regional Australia (+7.9%) increased by more than four times the growth rate recorded across the combined capital city regions (+1.7%) over the 12 months to January 2021. Pretty amazing. I am just starting to receive reports that our capital city property markets are starting to take off now as well.

Residential rentals for the Bellingen Shire have been in line with sales properties. With lack of available stock, competition for housing and rising rents. I feel with more and more people wanting to live here, and no new rental accommodation being built to satisfy the increasing demand, that rental accommodation will continue to be scarce. Great if you are a landlord, but tough going if you are a tenant trying to find a home. As I’ve previously mentioned, less expensive areas like Bowraville/Newee Creek and Nambucca Heads would be welcoming our overflow.

I can recall working in my father’s real estate office in Urunga back in the 1990s, and at that time Sydney was firing with more work and infrastructure projects on offer than our area. We had a list as long as your arm of available, and largely vacant, rental homes. We had all the properties and no tenants, with tradies and families alike heading to the city for well-paid work. Our property values and rental returns suffered, as did our little shire’s economy. As it stands now the property cycle we are currently experiencing is almost the polar opposite, with everyone fleeing the big smoke in an attempt for a more relaxed lifestyle and cleaner living on offer from areas like Bellingen.

Looking outside my office onto the main Street it appears as though our town has taken its first break since the pandemic shutdown was eased. School holidays or not it has almost been standing room only on the streets as I am sure everyone has noticed. No doubt our small businesses have welcomed the tourist money, and have hopefully clawed back some of the losses from the shutdown. I think one thing we have learnt from this pandemic is just how much of our money does end up overseas when Australians were travelling abroad. Now they are restricted to their own country, they’re spending money has poured back into Australia’s economy. So business owners, enjoy it while it’s there!

It will be interesting to see the long term effect of the vaccination rollout, and how long it takes for the majority of people to slip back into the norm of overseas travel. However, I think for the short term, not much should change for us in the Bellingen Shire. Pandemic or not we do live in the best area of the best country on Earth.

Stay safe and be thankful for where you live. Should there be any real estate queries or assistance you may require, feel free to give one of our friendly helpful staff a call on 02 6655 1049.

Nathan Cardow, author of the Bellingen Shire Property Report is the Principal Licensee of Bellingen Cardow and Partners Property