A lucrative alternative to Darwin?

The Northern Territory’s market might be dominated by its capital, but the  state can offer up another attractive option to investors

High-performing Darwin dominates the NT’s property market. With a marked  shortage of available property relative to demand, yields and values are  continuing to grow solidly.

Investors who think Darwin is too hot may now want to consider a more  affordable yet lucrative alternative outside of the capital – in particular,  Alice Springs.

As the NT’s third-largest town and a popular tourist destination, Alice  Springs is less dependent on seasonal economic factors than Darwin.

The latest RP Data figures show the median house price in Alice Springs is sitting at just $435,000, while the  median unit price is currently $325,000.

The Herron Todd White report notes that the unit rental market is  tightening, thanks to strong demand for new units in the area.

In addition, the RP Data figures show that both house and unit rental yields in most suburbs of Alice Springs  sit at a healthy 6%. In the suburbs of Gillen, Araluen, Desert Springs, The  Gap and Larapinta, unit rental yields sit at 7%. These yields offer investors the opportunity to get positive cash flow or,  at the very least, to be cash flow neutral.

The Alice Springs market has a good track record, according to Hotspotting’s  Terry Ryder. Long-term growth has been solid, and the market is now moving  into another growth phase.

This is backed up by the region’s strong and diverse economy, which  encompasses cattle stations, mining operations, tourism, transport and a  number of government programmes, Ryder says.

“Alice Springs is a worthwhile option for investors to explore. It has a  strong future with definite signs of growth. It certainly ticks all the  right boxes.”

Traditionally, the Alice Springs market has provided very strong returns for  investors, agrees Real Estate Institute of Northern Territory’s Alice  Springs representative Andrew Doyle.

Further improvement in returns could be on the horizon. A number of mining  companies are in discussion with the government about exploration in the  area south of Alice Springs, and it is hoped something will eventuate from  that scenario, Doyle says.

“Because the Alice is a very tightly held market, one big project can  stimulate major growth in our market. So a mining venture like those  proposed would have a significant impact on the market.”

Suburb to Watch

The Gap

Affordability and close proximity to the centre of Alice Springs make The  Gap a desirable suburb to invest in. It also offers fantastic views of the  MacDonnell Ranges.

Nathan Roberts, from Professionals Alice Springs Real Estate, says a mixture  of houses on relatively large blocks and a variety of units are available.

“Also, a few developers have invested in the area by dividing large blocks  into MD blocks and building town houses and duplexes on them.”

Within walking distance of The Gap, there are a range of services, including  the hospital and private medical offices, the Aquatic Centre, the sports  compound of Traeger Park, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Traegar Campus, and  restaurants.

There are improved signs of businesses investing in the area, Roberts says.  “A local corporation recently purchased the Memo Club, which went into  voluntary administration over 12 months ago.”

There are also a number of picturesque walking and cycling paths around the  area. At the moment, prices are steady, but – due to a recent surge of  buyers in the market – this could lead to an increase in prices, Roberts  adds.

“The streets of Clara Court and Ballingall Street provide the most sought- after properties in The Gap and are particularly popular with professionals  who work at the hospital.”