Real estate tycoon John McGrath sees a market recovery for the Byron region in 2012 and is putting his money where he mouth is by moving into the local market.
McGrath recently used a breakfast function attended by a who’s who of Byron’s real estate investors to announce his intentions.
McGrath has chosen long-time Byron agent Paul Nicholls to spearhead its service. ‘We foresee opening an office in Byron, but at present we will continue to operate out of our existing [Ballina] location,’ said Nicholls.
John McGrath spoke of trends that his company gleans from auctions nationwide, some of which take months to make their way into official statistics. ‘Darwin and Canberra, with their high proportion of government and defence employees, are the strongest markets in the country.
‘It’s business as usual in Sydney, and Melbourne and Brisbane are showing first signs of recovery,’ he said, contrasting these growth areas with the Gold Coast, down 50 per cent, and an overall national drop of 12 per cent since the GFC.
McGrath commented that regions usually lag behind the major cities by 12 months, leading him to predict that Byron will experience a recovery some time in 2012.
‘Asking a real estate agent if they think the market is improving is a bit like asking a barber if you need a haircut,’ he said, ‘but at the moment everyone is waiting to see if prices drop further. Unless something drastic happens with the euro, prices will stay stable, then we’ll be surprised by how quickly people return to the market.’
McGrath identified seachangers, mainland Chinese investors and self-managed super funds (now allowed to gear their investments) as new categories of purchasers in our region. While the market may be showing its first green shoots since the GFC, ‘there over 900 properties up for sale in Byron, a backlog which will take two to three years to clear at current rates,’ he said. Accordingly, McGrath believes it’s a good time for buyers, but vendors should hold on for 12 more months if they can afford to.
McGrath’s expansionary aspirations follow a notable thinning of agencies servicing Byron, with Belle Property closing, and Ed Silk entering administration prior to being acquired by Gail Fuller and partners to form Byron Coastal Real Estate.
First National and Ray White remain the largest agencies in town, First National claiming 42 per cent of settled sales this year.