SELLING UP: Lennox Head property owner Kay Johnson and her children Jamie, 6, and Tyla, 8, contemplate their future.
SELLING UP: Lennox Head property owner Kay Johnson and her children Jamie, 6, and Tyla, 8, contemplate their future.

Property?s new growth leaders

By STEPHANIE FORESTER

PROPERTY investors in Kyogle, Dunoon and Coraki are the surprise big winners in the local real estate market in the past year, recording massive price hikes.

A report commissioned by The Northern Star has revealed that Northern Rivers real estate is still growing strongly and a good year is predicted for 2005.

Lennox Head was one of the region's mid-range performers, recording a 14.6 per cent increase in property values in the last year.

For the Johnson family, who put their Lennox Head home on the market before Christmas, the news is all good.

"We were fortunate that we bought three years ago, about a month before prices started going up," said Kay Johnson. "It's not like we're real estate geniuses or anything ? it was pure luck."

Mrs Johnson said that the family was not cashing in on the boom.

"We've got family responsibilities and we've decided to rationalise our finances," she said.

"I'm sure the market will keep going up. In fact I can't ever see Lennox Head being a poor investment."

Australian Property Monitors' research director, Louis Christopher, whose company compiled the report, said the Northern Rivers real estate market was 'positive and bouyant'.

The strong local figures follow gloomy assessments of the national market, with reports of prices backsliding in Sydney and the Commonwealth Bank yesterday saying there was no recent growth in home prices in the capital cities.

Mr Christopher said his predictions for 2005 were based on short and long-term historical real estate data and assumptions about interest rates.

The 2005 projection figures in the report assumed there would be no hike in interest rates this year.

The reasons for sudden jolts in property values, such as those in Kyogle where average house prices rose 44.2 per cent from $104,000 to $150,000 between 2003 and 2004, were 'too early to call'.

However, he said, it was likely that these townships were 'playing catch-up' with neighbouring areas ? a view supported by the manager of Elders at Kyogle, Mike Smith.

Mr Smith said a lack of housing stock in December had pushed up real estate prices even further.

He said the cheapest house currently on his books was $165,000 and several properties had re-entered the market last week at around the $200,000 mark.

Even at the bottom of the 12month growth scale the news was still good. At Wollongbar, median housing values increased from $320,000 to $331,000, or 3.4 per cent.

Owner of The Professionals at Alstonville, Gary Rowney, said Wollongbar was yet to come into its own.

He said the release of more land in the village would increase interest in the real estate market there, as very little new land was available in nearby Alstonville.

"In another 12 months, we'll see quite a difference in those figures," he said.



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