Lake Macquarie Property Watch Q4 2013

This report investigates the residential real estate market in the northern side of Lake Macquarie. The area comprises the suburbs of Eleebana, Lakelands, Speers Point and Warners Bay.

Stable activity and a limited availability of stock increased enquiries from owner-occupiers and revived investor interest, although the higher level of competition over limited stock has to date had only a limited impact on price.

House activity remained steady since August 2010, with marked spikes in the August 2011 and February 2012 half years. Stability continued through 2013, with 138 house transactions recorded in the six months to August 2013, representing an increase of one transaction over the corresponding period in 2012. The most transacted product consisted of three bedrooms, accounting for 42 per cent of transactions. Buyers were mostly young families upsizing to larger premises, some of whom from outside the area.

In the six months to August 2013 the median house price increased by 0.8 per cent to $495,000 but eased slightly from a record $500,000 registered in February. The House Price Point graph (on the next page) pointed to an increased activity in middle price points, while activity at the top and bottom ends of the market eased. The largest share of houses transacted in the $450,000 to $499,999 range, accounting for 16 per cent of sales. Warners Bay accounted for 60 transactions in the August half year, followed by Eleebana with 46 and Speers Point with 25.

A rise in medium-density dwellings activity confirmed the change in demand, with lifestyle and security becoming strong selling features. Consisting of apartments, townhouses and villas, the unit market maintained its upward trend since August 2011, registering 42 transactions in the six months to August 2013. A new 18-unit development on Warner Street, Warners Bay significantly impacted the August six month periods results, accounting for 10 transactions.

The share of unit transactions between $400,000 and $449,999 increased in the six months to August while the adjacent price point Vendors expectations have become more closely aligned with demand in the past 12 months, stimulating auction activity and minimising days on market. An analysis reviewing days on market across the four suburbs revealed that half of all listings remained on the market for a period of 120 days plus. The lowest selling period was recorded in Speers Point, where 65 per cent of stock was sold in less than 30 days. Despite the short selling periods and high demand for both houses and units, many would-be vendors remained absent from the market, instead adopting a wait-and-see approach in anticipation for rising prices in 2014.

As a further indication of the markets strength, the official rental vacancy rate remained low, closing at 1.6 per cent vacancy in October. With that said, a rise in the number of properties available for rent became apparent as some tenants turned into home owners, while the rise in stock for rent increased competition and lowered rent prices across the four suburbs. The median rent for a threebedroom house declined by 1.3 per cent to $370 per week, while the median weekly rent for a two-bedroom unit fell by 3.2 per cent to $300.