Strathalbyn sits on the outskirts of Western Australia’s fourth largest city, Geraldton, and its port’s booming resource export industry has fuelled huge capital growth in the area.
Exports account for 96% of the port’s total trade, according to the Geraldton Port Authority, with overall trade each year being valued at over $1bn. It’s perhaps not surprising then that Strathalbyn is one of three Geraldton suburbs to make Western Australia’s top five.
Strathalbyn’s growth curve really begins to steepen in the early 2000s, and it’s no coincidence that this is also the when the commodity boom hit home and Geraldton’s port was upgraded. In 2003 $103m was spent deepening Geraldton’s harbour, and upgrading three of the port’s six berths.
A year later and Geraldton’s economic growth was being felt in Strathalbyn with gusto. Its median price rose by $22,904 during the September quarter of 2004 alone, according to Residex figures, and continued to rise by as much as $30,000 per quarter right up until the end of 2008.
The December 2008 quarter figure of $596,587 capped off a remarkable period of capital growth for Strathalbyn. The GFC however made a dent in the demand for iron ore, and by June 2010 Strathalbyn’s median had dropped by $57,850 to $538,737. Its September 2010 figure of $545,009 however brings hope of a comeback.
Only 4% of Strathalbyn’s occupied dwellings are rented, according to the 2006 Census, making the area more suited to renovation projects than buying and holding. First National Geraldton principal Andrew Short believes that it’s Strathalbyn’s large land blocks that brings in the owner-occupier crowd.
“The blocks out there are mainly larger 2,000 square metre blocks, so a lot of people like it for the lifestyle. There’s a bit more space and room for the kids to run free. There are some people who, from an investment point of view, don’t mind that sort of thing. But for most tenants, you’re looking for something that’s a bit easier to maintain,” says Short.