One of New South Wales’ major regional centres is beginning to attract an increasing amount of attention from investors, according to a leading Sydney buyers’ agency.

As it benefits from proximity to Sydney and its own amenities, the attractiveness of real estate in Wollongong and the wider Illawarra region is beginning to grow.

“Wollongong and the Illawarra in general have really started to come up on people’s radar recently. People seem to be looking there and seeing some better value for money,” Rich Harvey, managing director of Property Buyer, said.

“Sydney’s run recently has probably helped it, but Wollongong has its own separate economy as well, which is a definite positive. Wollongong University is a highly regarded uni and the education hub it’s establishing is a big drawcard,” Harvey said.

Also helping the region is that fact that it, like Newcastle, has started to throw off some of the stigma that has long been attached to it.

“With BHP having a big presence there it was a bit like Newcastle where people had this idea of it being a real industrial area, but it’s moved on from that now and people are beginning to see it as a much more attractive location,” Harvey said.

“You come off Bulli Pass and you’re hit by some pretty good views and Wollongong itself has a really picturesque harbour and some other great attractions. It’s the type of place where you can get a really affordable house and be only a five-minute walk from the beach.”

Such is the growing interest in the region, Harvey said his firm has recently hired a new buyers’ agent to focus solely on the region.

“We’ve bought in an expert who’s had years of experience on the ground down there and really knows the market, down to what streets to look at and which ones to avoid.

“Every person is different and has a different budget, but hopefully we’ll be able to help them achieve what they want to. If you’re looking to spend $650,000 then maybe you might want to consider a house in Wollongong, rather than an apartment in Marrickville.”

Harvey isn't the only one in the real estate industry who are bullish on the region’s prospects, Matt Knight, head of buyer’s agency Precium, has also expressed plenty of confidence in the Illawarra and its surrounding markets.

“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