PROPERTY LADDER: Gary and Rebecca Watson from Lismore in front of one of their investment properties in Goonellabah
PROPERTY LADDER: Gary and Rebecca Watson from Lismore in front of one of their investment properties in Goonellabah

Lismore?s real estate market is safe as houses

By Will Jackson will.jackson@northernstar.com.au WHEN looking for an investment property earlier this year Rebecca Watson and her husband, Gary, decided to buy close to home.

Their research indicated the place with the right mix of affordability, good rental income and secure capital returns was Goonellabah.

And they're not the only ones.

According to Lismore's real estate agents, the town's property market generally has been surging thanks to interest rate hikes and rising property prices which have put the coast out of reach for many people.

Anything under the $300,000 mark is being snapped up as quickly as it can be put on the market.

The median house price in Lismore is still only $253,000, which is below the region's median house price of $260,000 and Ballina's which is $352,000.

The Watsons bought two units in Greenhills Drive for $300,000 as a supplement to their superannuation. "We were looking for something to secure our future," Rebecca said yesterday.

The $310 per week rent they are taking will come in useful until they sell in five or six years, hopefully making a healthy return. And because they live nearby they can keep an eye on the units and the local market.

Chris Harley, principal of Lismore Real Estate, said the market was definitely up from late last year.

"It's very buoyant at the moment," he said.

"Anything under $300,000 at the right price will sell almost immediately.

"We're just so affordable in comparison to the coast." He said the much-publicised rental shortage was making Lismore a more attractive proposition for those like the Watsons who couldn't wait years for a return on their investment.

While the cost of renting in Lismore and Ballina was comparable, the price to buy was much higher on the coast, he said

That meant buyers in Lismore could get a better immediate return on their investment, even if the capital gain in the long run was not as good.

He added that because Lismore was still the commercial heart of the Northern Rivers, investors could rely on a steady increase in property prices.

Peter Brown, from Wal Murray and Co Lismore, said affordable properties were so popular they were becoming scarce.

"We've got a real lack of stock at the moment," he said. However, he added that it was not just Lismore's property market that was doing well.

"Apparently, property prices across the entire region increased 4 per cent over the past year while metropolitan areas are still struggling," he said.



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