Kyogle's on rise
By ALEX EASTON
KYOGLE residents Aaron Reid and John Harley are living in the Northern Rivers' last real estate boomtown.
Property prices may have slumped across most of Australia, but they are soaring in Kyogle, where new figures show a 21 per cent jump in values over the past 12 months.
That makes the town the strongest performer in a region that, according to figures from Australian Property Monitors and RP Data, has defied real estate trends, with price growth in nearly every major centre.
So far, between Evans Head and Ocean Shores, only Ballina has succumbed to the price slump, recording a four per cent drop in the 12 months to July 1.
By comparison, prices at Evans Head, Byron Bay, Ocean Shores, Lismore, Casino and Kyogle are all headed north.
Even Ballina's four per cent drop is minor when compared to huge slumps of up to 20 per cent recorded in Sydney.
Agents across the region said the coastal market had been insulated from the price drops by the continuing popularity of the region with 'sea changers', while inland towns had been protected by their comparatively low prices.
John Harley, who has watched the value of his home grow from $80,000 when he bought it 12 years ago to about $250,000 now, and Aaron Reid, who bought the place over the road in April, reckon the answer is obvious.
Mr Reid, the sergeant at the local police station, moved to the town from Sydney in April with his wife Melissa and their infant son Aidan.
The couple left Sydney looking for a quiet place where they could afford a larger block and raise their son in safety. They struck gold in Kyogle.
"It's been fantastic. The people here are so friendly," Mr Reid said.
"A lot of the local people don't realise that Kyogle has taken off and its booming more than the other places. They think places are too expensive here.
"People say to us 'you paid too much for your house', but from a Sydney perspective, we didn't." on riseMr Harley said the Kyogle lifestyle and affordable housing meant there would be more families like the Reids coming to town ? and as far as he was concerned, the more the better.
"Compared to somewhere like Byron Bay, it's cheap," Mr Harley said. "You can get a small farmlet here for less than you could get a house block there."
Although, Byron Bay has nothing to complain about either. Despite continuing to record the highest prices on the Northern Rivers, with a median house price of $540,000, it still grew 10 per cent in the 12 months to July 1.
Real Estate Institute of NSW board member and Lismore LJ Hooker principal Paul Deegan said one reason behind the region's continued growth was the fact it didn't take off as strongly as the cities.
"As soon as it slows down in the cities, we fall here; but because it (the property boom) was not as long or as hard here, there's no big drop backwards," he said.
Mr Deegan said Lismore appeared to have returned to its pre-boom 'normal' volume of sales while still enjoying an 11 per cent jump in prices during the 12 months to July 1.
Ballina LJ Hooker co-principal Dick Campbell said the four per cent drop in prices in his town was a dose of reality for property owners.
"At the height of it you'd have people saying 'I'd better whack another 50 grand on the price just in case the market leaves me behind'," Mr Campbell said.
"I think it's a situation now where vendors are just getting realistic in the pricing of their properties."
Mr Campbell and other agents said they did not expect to see prices go down any further in the town ? but neither were they likely to bounce back up in a hurry.
Ballina's market was being held up by continued strong interest by people wanting to move to the region for a lifestyle change.
Lennox Head was positively buoyant, with multi-million dollar properties still moving, he said.
Professionals Ballina coprincipal Rob McGoldrick and Elders Ballina director Glenn Mills both said that the State Government's decision to axe the vendor tax was also creating a renewed interest in the town.
"We've been getting inquiries from Queensland," Mr Mills said.
"The vendor duty did slow things up big-time ... but the mood is more positive now."