PropTrack’s latest Regional Australia Report has lifted the lid on regional property markets, detailing despite recent slowdowns, regional prices continue to hold up better than capital cities. 

Since peaking in April 2022 following the fastest regional property price growth in 35 years, the report revealed regional property prices nationwide have come back 2.2%. 

Despite this decline, PropTrack Senior Economist Eleanor Creagh noted home price falls in regional Australia are not as widespread as metro areas. 

“Out of the 42 regional areas classified as SA4s, 28 have seen prices fall from their peak, while 41 of the 46 metro regions have seen home prices slip from peak levels,” Ms Creagh said. 

“Although affordability has sharply eroded after recent price growth, regional areas still present a comparative advantage, despite increases in mortgage servicing costs and a dip in borrowing capacities relative to the same period last year.”

PropTrack details the regional market of Richmond-Tweed in NSW, home to Byron Bay, has seen the largest regional declines to date, followed by the regions of Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven in NSW and the Sunshine Coast in QLD to round out the top three.

Regional House Price Falls From Peak - PropTrack December 2022.JPG

Ms Creagh said it’s often the case that the upper end of the market experiences larger price declines.

“Much like the trend we see across the capitals, it’s the comparatively higher value areas within regional Australia that are seeing steeper price falls,” she said. 

“However, in most of these markets, home prices are still up a staggering 50% or more on pre-pandemic levels.”

Regional QLD, SA lead regional home buyer demand 

PropTrack revealed regional Queensland remains the top searched location for interstate property buyers throughout regional Australia, accounting for 31% of all searches.

This search volume is translating to demand, with Ms Creagh noting demand for homes in regional Queensland and regional SA continues to exceed that of homes in regional NSW and regional Victoria, with comparative affordability keeping these regions popular for buyers.

“Queensland is still home to four of the top 10 regions where demand has increased the most in the 12 months to October 2022,” she said.

“However, these are regions where the median value of homes is still below $600,000 – well below the Sunshine Coast’s $1 million-plus median value.”

Regional Top 10 Demand Growth - PropTrack December 2022.JPG

Less choice for regional home buyers despite significant demand

PropTrack revealed the number of properties listed for sale in regional areas to October 2022 remains 45% below pre-pandemic averages, compared to 10% below pre-pandemic averages for capital cities. 

Ms Creagh noted the regional markets with the sharpest decline in total listings relative to pre-Covid averages lies in SA with the Barossa – Yorke – Mid North declining 69%, followed closely by the Darling Downs Maranoa region in QLD declining 67%. 

“For regional buyers with less choice and negotiating power, the balance of power hasn’t yet shifted in their favour as it has elsewhere – another reason why regional areas are exhibiting a lesser pace of price falls relative to the capital cities,” she said. 

“In fact, the best performing regional markets over the past year in terms of price, SA’s Barossa – Yorke – Mid North (-69%) and South East (-66%) regions and Queensland’s Wide Bay (-63%), have some of the respective regions’ tightest property supply.

“In each of these regions, total listings are still less than half pre-pandemic averages, with the lack of choice for buyers likely insulating home values.”

Read more: A guide to the Regional First Home Guarantee

‘Premium’ regional markets taking longer to sell 

With its million-dollar median, PropTrack revealed selling times have increased the most across the Sunshine Coast for both houses and units.

Houses in the Sunshine Coast are taking 60 days to sell, up an additional 41 additional days compared to the same period last year. 

The unit market in the Sunshine Coast is similarly takes 57 days to sell, up an additional 32 days compared to the same period last year. 

Ms Creagh noted the affordable areas where buyer demand has held up better are the regions where selling times have continued to fall.

“Houses are selling fastest in SA – South East, where the median time on market was 43 days in the three months to October 2022, down 17 days from October 2021,” she said.

“Units are selling fastest in Victoria’s North West, where the median time on market was 30 days in the three months to October 2022, down two days from October 2021.”

Interest rates hold the key for further price falls in 2023 

Ms Creagh believes while increasing borrowing costs are a headwind for prices, regional markets are likely to continue to exhibit a lesser pace of price falls in the new year. 

“They remain buoyed by shifting lifestyle priorities, migration trends, and affordability advantages that are still in play,” she said. 

“With additional rate rises on the horizon, borrowing costs will continue to increase and maximum borrowing capacities will be further reduced, shrinking buyers’ budgets. 

“The significant reduction in borrowing capacities implies further price falls. It will take time for higher interest rates to fully affect prices, so they are likely to continue to fall throughout this year as interest rates continue to rise. 

“However, if interest rates peak in 2023, price falls are likely to ease, with values stabilising as interest rate uncertainty reduces.”

Looking to take advantage of falling property prices in 2023 and achieve your new home dreams? Check out some top picks of suburbs you should keep an eye on across the regional cities of Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and the Central Coast


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