Brett Wortman

Property prices hit new low

NEW real estate figures released this week confirm what many in the local industry already know - 2012 was not a good year for real estate.

The RP Data for the Richmond Tweed region of NSW showed a drop in values of 6.8% for detached houses and 14% for detached units.

But these were not the steepest declines, with northern neighbours on the Gold Coast seeing their property values drop by 12.7% for detached houses and 19.5% for units.

RP Data analyst Cameron Kusher said coastal markets linked to tourism had generally continued to underperform in 2012.

"The weakness in unit markets, particularly those in prominent coastal markets, shows oversupply issues in many of these areas, coupled with a drop in demand since the onset of the global financial crisis," he said.

Chris Hazlett, owner of Century 21 Ballina, agreed that GFC jitters and an oversupply of units in the Northern Rivers had pushed the market into decline during 2012.

"It could not get much worse than it was last year," Mr Hazlett said.

"The GFC was an all-encompassing thing that took in a lot of factors that affected the economy. Even with the low interest rates, people were still not committing to buying.

"It was also about supply and demand as well. Ballina does have too many two-bedroom units."

But Mr Hazlett saw some rays of hope shining through in the first weeks of 2013, saying now may be the best time to jump into the market.

"Vendors are now much more realistic (about sales prices), interest rates are still low and the government is pulling out all the stops to get people to buy," Mr Hazlett said.

"There may be other factors holding people back, such as job security and tighter lending restrictions from the banks, but if you can get past these then it's a good time to buy and you can make good capital growth."

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