A NATIONAL magazine and online resource has given Warrnambool’s property investment market a blue-chip rating as one of Australia’s top 50 growth spots.
It was one of only three locations to score multiple votes from a team of seven experts used by Smart Property Investment and the only buoyant centre not reliant on the resources boom.
The magazine’s inaugural Fast 50 annual report, published in its latest edition, highlights centres with the most capital growth potential.
“A new wave of investors is starting to look and buy,” the magazine says of Warrnambool.
Hot spots were selected on key indicators, including population growth, housing demand, income levels, employment, vacancy rates, previous capital growth and gross rental returns.
Gladstone scored three votes, while Warrnambool and Rockhampton received two.
Corio, Morwell and Frankston were the only other Victorian centres to be included in the rating.
Warrnambool’s median house price was listed at $316,000, compared with $437,000 at Gladstone and $217,000 at Rockhampton while the median unit price for Warrnambool was $255,000, Gladstone $350,000 and Rockhampton $447,500.
Gross yields for Warrnambool were quoted at six per cent for houses and five per cent for units — the same as Rockhampton and a one per cent better housing yield than Gladstone.
Warrnambool’s yields were well above the quoted Victorian median of 3.7 per cent for houses and 4.3 per cent for units.
It quoted property columnist Terry Ryder describing Warrnambool as the south-west’s leading centre, growing so fast the local council had to rezone hundreds of hectares of farming land for new industrial and residential estates.
“Retail is rapidly expanding and there is a plethora of new power generation facilities, including gas-fired power stations and major wind farms,” he said.
Mortgage broker and buyer’s agent Todd Hunter said strong employment prospects underpinned property market growth and he linked affordability pressures in Geelong as a factor.
“This has put housing pressure on Warrnambool and hence we are seeing increases in rents and a new wave of investors starting to look and buy,” he said.
While the magazine correctly lists Warrnambool’s population as just under 34,000, it claims more than 700,000 visitors a year come to the beaches in summer and to view whales in winter.
Warrnambool’s area delegate on the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, Bruce Ludeman, said the report reinforced what had been evident for the past few years since new energy projects kicked fresh investment into the region.
“It is a fairly solid market,” he said. “Rental vacancy rates are low due to demand from resource development companies, but housing prices have eased back. Employment is fairly stable.”
Retail property agent David Turner said there was strong interest from national retailers in the Warrnambool region, which had survived the Global Financial Crisis in good shape.
City council growth director Bill Millard said the value of residential building permits issued in Warrnambool had risen in the past decade from $23m to $80m.
“Constrained land supply due to growth has resulted in pent-up demand for residential land, creating a strong investment environment and increasing values,” he said.
“Population and employment statistics continue to point to steady economic growth.”