Infrastructure investment and decreasing affordability in Sydney drive interest in NSW's South Coast

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Forget just a weekend getaway, investors and home buyers are being given more and more reasons to head to the south coast of New South Wales.

The stretch of picturesque coast line from Wollongong to the southern end of the Shoalhaven is becoming more and more popular with buyers as a result of an influx of infrastructure investment and decreasing affordability in Sydney.

The northern parts of the region are set to benefit from Australand’s Shell Cove boat harbour and marina project, while a by-pass of Albion Park Rail has been promised on the condition that the NSW government’s poles and wires sell-off is approved.

Areas further south are steadily becoming more accessible as the Princes Highway in the area benefits from unprecedented attention.

The $327 million dollar Gerringong by-pass is nearing completion, while work on the $580 million Foxground-Berry by-pass is well underway.

Plans for the next stretch of work, the Berry-Bomaderry by-pass have been finalised, while investigations have begun into a new road bridge over the Shoalhaven River between Bomaderry and Nowra.

Matt Knight is the head of buyer’s agency Precium, which focuses locations from Wollongong down to southern boundary of the Shoalhaven, and said he is already seeing increased interest from those outside the area.

“Wollongong has always had some popularity and has been regarded as pretty safe due its large population base and diverse economy, but now some other areas are starting to see their popularity rise,” Knight said.

“In the southern Illawarra, the Shell Cove marina is really driving popularity in the nearby suburbs and when it’s finished it will definitely benefit prices in the area,” he said.

“Further south, the northern parts of the Shoalhaven, around Nowra, Vincentia and St George’s Basin are seeing interest they haven’t before, people from Sydney are looking there and telling me once the highway works are done they’ll move there and commute to Sydney once or twice a week.”

With Sydney’s median house price hovering around $1 million, affordability is also much better as you head south, however Knight said some areas are already moving beyond the reach of most people.

“The northern coastal communities of Wollongong are getting up to the $700,000 - $800,000 range for houses, but if you’re an investor or looking for a family home you can still find value around the $450,000 to $550,000 mark.

“Outside of Kiama and Gerringong, which are pretty sought after because of the café culture and combination of water views and farmland, the further you head down the coast the more affordable things become.

“I’ve been saying for a while now that lots of areas down here are undervalued, in Nowra and the rest of the Shoalhaven I’d say the market is probably 10% or 20% below what it should be.

The latest IRIS Research Illawarra Real Estate Report has puts the Wollongong LGA median house at $510,000, a 10.9% increase in comparison to the year to March, 2014.

The report shows the Shellharbour LGA also recorded strong growth, lifting 11.1% to sit at $450,000, while the Kiama LGA was up 5.7% to $629,000 and the Shoalhaven LGA was up 5.9% to $360,000.

Knight does offer some caution for buyers and recommends they do street by street research for any suburb they’re looking at, as many can contain a mix of properties; from multi-million dollar waterfronts to undesirable ex-housing commission stock.

While Knight works with buyers looking for a range of different properties, a lot of his work is with small developers and that is an area where he believes there is real potential for the region.

“About a third of my clients are ones who are looking to do a small development of sorts, buying a property and turning it in dual occupancy or subdividing a block.

“Down here we have the space to do that and that’s where I think there’s some real value and real gains to be made, especially down in the Bay & Basin area.”
 

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