Surge in Ballarat land price could spark affordability crisis for wider market

A regional land boom could make a patch of dirt in Ballarat’s new housing estates worth as much as those in Melbourne by Christmas.

Other regional centres within striking distance of the capital are also at risk of home price booms that could cause a years-long affordability crisis.

Analysis by Research4 director Colin Keane shows Ballarat’s average block has soared from
$175,000 to $260,000 since the pandemic hit. 
He predicted the figure would surpass $300,000 and reach parity with Melbourne’s median blockcost before the end of this year as the city’s supply of land was rapidly eroded by growing numbers of people heading out of metropolitan areas — manynow driven by a desire to escape urban life rather than affordability.

“We are seeing a Covid-induced change, people want to be there (Ballarat),” Mr Keane said.

“The demand is there to be outside of the urban footprint. And if they can’t get a lot, they will turn to the established market and that will push the house prices through the roof.”

He claimed the issue was being compounded by town planners releasing land for sale based on 2019 data, when just over 600 lots sold in a year. In 2020 there were 1750 lots sold. This year the figure is expected to top 1800, with 924 sold in the first six months of 2021.

Mr Keane said Ballarat wasn’t alone, with land planning shortages in other regional hubs such as the Macedon Ranges, Bendigo and Warragul also potential risking affordability issues.

“If they don’t act quickly then that demand pressure will move to the established housing market and they will face an affordability crisis,” Mr Keane warned. 

“To prevent that, they need to fast-track any new subdivisions already in plans. ”Geelong’s median lot price has been matching Melbourne’s more affordable new housing growth corridors for a number of years.

Resi Ventures boss Khurram Saeed said he had a 500-lot subdivision to Ballarat’s north that could be available for sale by 2022 if the local council fast tracked approvals, but was currently expected to hit the market in 2024.

“We’re not asking for special treatment, however unless something is done to fast-track the land rezoning, the Ballarat unmet land development market is facing a supply black hole,” Mr Saeed said.

PRD Ballarat director Jason Birch said there had been a notable surge in land and house prices across the city, with a property that would have cost $450,000 now worth over $600,000 and instances of those who had bought land selling it for tens of thousands more before it had even been titled.

But Mr Birch said even if a block wound up costing as much as one in Melbourne it would likely be substantially larger than you would get in the big smoke.

“I don’t think it will be a crisis,” Mr Birch said. “But there will be people who find it difficult as prices for everything are rising, but wages aren’t.”

He added that the wage gap between those employed in Melbourne and those in Ballarat would also impact affordability, with first-home buyers squeezed out  also likely to struggle to access a rental property amid heated demand.

City of Ballarat development and growth director Natalie Robertson said the city had 1290ha of future urban expansion in the Ballarat West Growth Area and is looking for other opportunities.

“In addition, the City of Ballarat is currently preparing an affordable housing policy to provide for the delivery of different affordable housing models in Ballarat in close consultation with key state government agencies,” Ms Robertson said.

From The Sydney Morning Herald


Jobs,housing,roads and Koalas priorities in Port Macquarie Regional City Action Plan to 2036​

More jobs, increased affordable housing, a vibrant waterfront, improved transport network and green spaces for koalas are some of the key objectives in a future plan for Port Macquarie.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes released the final Port Macquarie Regional City Action Plan which will guide and shape the coastal city’s growth until 2036.

“We know that housing affordability is a key issue affecting our regional cities, which is why we’ve included actions to ensure a steady supply and mix of homes to cater for future population growth,” Mr Stokes said.

“Over the next 15 years, an additional 11,600 people are expected to call Port Macquarie home, requiring more than 7,450 homes.

“The plan will also help the council map out existing koala corridors as part of a local Koala Recovery Strategy. This will lead to the provision of more habitat and vegetation, and public space for the community to enjoy.”

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams said the final plan leverages the city’s position along the Pacific and Oxley highways to attract investment, encourage tourism and boost jobs.

“The Action Plan will strengthen initiatives, such as 550 new jobs for the Airport Business Park expansion and the creation of a Health and Education Precinct supported by better transport links,” Mrs Williams said.

“Work is already underway to improve connections with the Hastings River and beach foreshore, while our parks, public spaces and waterfront will be upgraded to create a greener, greater place to live.

“I’m delighted to see the plan is now finalised and we can get on with delivering a sustainable vision for the region.”

Port Macquarie-Hastings Mayor Peta Pinson said the final plan responds directly to community feedback.

“The community made it loud and clear that protection of the natural environment, overdevelopment and transport issues were main concerns that need addressing,” Cr Pinson said.

“To drive a sustainable future, we’re selecting trees and shrubs that not only cool down built-up areas but provide habitat and food sources for native wildlife.

“Council will continue to review its planning rules to ensure the size and scale of new building developments stay consistent and compatible with their surroundings.”