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October 23, 2021

Byron shire becoming unaffordable for buyers too

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An Ocean Shores auction last Saturday. Photo Jeff Dawson
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Paul Bibby

The boom in the local housing market has spread to the fringes of Byron shire and beyond, with new figures suggesting house prices in our outer suburbs and towns have jumped dramatically in the past year.

In a development that is likely to exacerbate the region’s affordability crisis, figures from CoreLogic record price increases of more than 28 per cent in South Golden Beach, Ocean Shores, Clunes and Uki.

Myocum and Federal have now joined Byron Bay and Suffolk Park in having a median house price in excess of $1m, according to the figures, with Bangalow and New Brighton not far behind.

Every suburb in the region now has a median house price above that for NSW as a whole, cementing the shire’s place as one of the most desirable but least affordable places to live in the state.

SGB up 37.4 pc

One of the biggest movers in the past 12 months, according to the figures, is South Golden Beach, where house prices have jumped 37.4 per cent and each property spent just 61 days on the market, on average, before being sold.

Julie-Ann Manahan, the principal agent at Raine and Horne Ocean/Shores Brunswick Heads, said her firm had seen a ‘huge increase’ in prices.

‘This part of the Shire is no longer the hidden little secret,’ Ms Manahan said.

‘I think Byron itself has become out of a lot of people’s league, so they’re saying, “Where can I go that’s still in my league… that’s under a million?”’

Ms Manahan said recent standout sales in her area included a four-bedroom Queenslander under community title in South Golden Beach going for $950,000.

Late last year a four-bedroom home on Palmer Avenue, Ocean Shores, went for $1.25m, a new record for the suburb.

But it’s not just the beachside suburbs where prices are climbing, with towns in the hinterland and beyond rising sharply.

According to the CoreLogic figures, the median house price in the village of Clunes on the western edge of the shire rose 35.9 per cent in the past year to $649,000.

Heading significantly beyond the boundaries of the shire, the town of Uki has seen the median house price increase by 31.01 per cent to $650,000.

The main drivers

According to the real estate agents interviewed by The Echo, the soaring prices were being driven by the continuing tide of cashed-up buyers from Sydney and Melbourne.

However, more people were now looking for a permanent home rather than simply an investment property.

Principal agent at Elders Real Estate in Bangalow, Janice Maple, said for these buyers the shire still represented relatively good value and a much better lifestyle.

‘People’s work situations are completely different now – they’re self-employed, they’re happy to commute, they can work from home… so they have more choice about where to live,’ Ms Maple said.

‘But I think Byron Bay is now out of many people’s reach.

‘So they’re saying “okay, where’s the next suburb to take off?” and they’re buying there instead.’

Chris Hanley, the principal agent and director at First National Byron Bay, said the most important factor in driving up prices was the lack of housing and land supply.

‘Our area is pretty well locked up despite what people say,’ Mr Hanley said.

‘The supply side of the equation has been restricted for decades.’

‘As well as there being no new houses or land, there’s also no provision or forward planning for medium density for people who want to downsize and stay in the area.’

However, Mr Hanley questioned CoreLogic’s figures in relation to the town of Byron Bay, which recorded a 42 per cent price increase in the past 12 months.

‘My view is that those figures are not correct,’ Mr Hanley said. ‘It’s nowhere near that now. If anything the market is quietening down as we speak.’

Affordability crisis

Nevertheless, the increases in prices across the shire generally have raised concerns that the region is becoming even less affordable for local people wanting to buy or rent.

The chief executive of Social Futures, Tony Davies, said the key point was that wage growth was not keeping up with increased housing prices.

‘For those who work in the local economy, it makes home ownership just that bit more difficult,’ Mr Davies said.

‘If we lose our young families, our entrepreneurs, our artists and musicians, then Byron just becomes an extension of Sydney’s Northern Beaches’.

‘Next stop, Palm Beach.’

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