Stuart Aitken, from Elders Byron Bay, says buyers are snapping up homes as soon as they hit the market in the beachside area of
Stuart Aitken, from Elders Byron Bay, says buyers are snapping up homes as soon as they hit the market in the beachside area of

Suffolk Park new real estate hot spot

By Alex Easton SUFFOLK PARK has stripped Byron Bay of its real estate crown, becoming one of the hottest property markets on the East Coast of Australia.

In a surge that has defied rising interest rates and a gloomy economic outlook, buyers are snapping up homes in the small community to Byron's south, with agents reporting some houses being sold within a week of going on the market.

Elders Byron Bay property team leader Stuart Aitken sold one property at Armstrong Street in less than a week last month, with an offer accepted on Christmas Eve and contracts exchanged before New Year's Eve.

"We're seeing some very quick sales and some very quick exchanges," Mr Aitken said. "It's an indication of what people are willing to spend; you'll have the first person who sees a place buy it and that's happened a couple of times in the last few weeks."

Byron Bay First National principal Chris Hanley said Suffolk Park was leading a surge in the Byron Bay area Sunrise Beach and parts of town around Carlyle and Kingsley streets were also performing very strongly recording annual price growth of more than 20 per cent.

"Suffolk Park is, without a doubt, one of the hottest spots on the East Coast," Mr Hanley said.

"It's doing better than Port Douglas or Noosa or Mermaid Beach. It's even a bit higher than Byron Bay."

Quoting figures from property monitoring service RP Data, Mr Hanley said between 2002 and 2007 Byron Bay properties had increased in value by an average 14.2 per cent per year, while Suffolk Park properties had jumped an average 20.5 per cent.

"To put that in perspective, $595,000 is the median house price at Suffolk Park in 2007, but in 2002 it was $234,000," he said.

Asked why Suffolk had suddenly surged, Mr Hanley said there was a sense that the community offered a taste of the 'old' Byron.

"To me, as an old hand here, it's not surprising," he said. "It's surrounded by bush and water. It has a pub and the shops.

"It's what Byron was a decade or 20 years ago. Everyone knows each other, the streets are wide and there's been a lot of money invested there in the last couple of years.

"It's a hot precinct and a hot place to invest." The other element pushing prices up was availability, and Mr Hanley agreed a lack of houses on the market as new buyers tried to get into the area was a big factor in the surge.

Mr Hanley said that while the surge had been most evident over the past few months, it had been happening for about the past year.

Elders Byron Bay principal David Gordon said the surge had focused almost entirely on beachside Suffolk and said it fitted within a broad cycle of property sales within the Byron Bay area.

"You'll notice trends, like Wategos will be quiet for a few years and then you'll sell five in a row. Suffolk's the same."

Mr Gordon said he believed there had been a build-up of demand through 2007 without the properties available to meet that demand, so when one did come on the market it pushed the price up. That sparked a new rush of houses on to the market to take advantage of the increased demand and increased prices and feeding the boom.

At present there were 27 properties for sale at beachside Suffolk Park, with prices ranging anywhere from $600,000 to $3.5 million, Mr Gordon said.

Mr Hanley said he believed the popularity of places such as Suffolk Park and Sunrise would continue to climb because there was so little new land to add to the homes there.

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