Coastal values soar despite economic challenges

More than one-third of Australia’s regional coastal markets have property values at record highs despite multiple interest rate hikes and soaring cost of living.

According to the latest data from CoreLogic, 35 per cent of our regional coastal areas finished 2023 with prices at their peak.

Western Australia dominated the list of top coastal suburbs with the highest annual capital gains, nabbing 13 of the top 20 spots.

“The divergence between cities and regions was a defining trend of 2023 and coastal regions were no exception to the increasing gap between top and bottom performers,” CoreLogic Research Director Tim Lawless said.

Bouvard, the second most northern suburb of Mandurah, recorded the most capital growth, with the median dwelling value jumping 28 per cent in 12 months to $560,138.

Western Australian coastal suburbs took out the top six spots for highest capital gain, with Augusta (23.2 per cent), coming in second, followed by San Remo (22.9 per cent), Halls Head (22.8 per cent), Secret Harbour (22.4 per cent) and Golden Bay (22.2 per cent).

“Markets that witnessed significant value growth last year were the beneficiaries of affordability challenges in other regions,” Mr Lawless said.

“Buyers who found better value in regional areas of Western Australia and Queensland not only bought into the upswing, but will have contributed to the resilience of these top performing spots.”

Mulambin, in Central Queensland, was the only suburb not in WA to make the top 20, with 22.1 per cent capital growth in the 12 months to the end of 2023.

Mr Lawless said every suburb in the top 20 had a median value well under $1 million, with Mulambin the most expensive on that list, with a median dwelling value of $822,553, followed by Rosslyn $760,981 on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast, about 530km north of Brisbane.

“The performance of those with the largest gains and the highest growth rates are not the glamorous hot spots that rose to prominence during COVID,” Mr Lawless said.

“The past 12 months has seen markets that offer a combination of value and lifestyle attributes, such as commuting distance to a major city, great beaches, and quality housing at a more affordable price point, outperform more well- known areas.

“Suburbs in areas such as Western Australia and more northern regions of Queensland where it’s still possible to make a sea change for less than $1 million were the strongest performers last year. 

“Although home values in these regions are mostly at record highs, they remain relatively affordable for sea changers selling out of more expensive metro markets.”

At the other end of the scale, Mr Lawless said suburbs in the Richmond Valley in Northern NSW recorded the largest drops in value, relative to their COVID peak, after many suburbs around Byron Bay recorded a spectacular increase in values during the worst of the pandemic.

“Arguably these markets overshot the mark of what could be considered fair value through the worst of the pandemic, with increases in value of more than 60 per cent in some areas,” he said. 

“It’s also likely severe weather events in early 2022 played a role in the recent weakness.

Ocean Shores, Byron Bay, Suffolk Park, Lennox Head and Brunswick Heads – all in the Richmond Valley – were the top five suburbs where values have fallen most significantly since peaking in April 2022. 

However, median dwelling values remain more than $1 million in each of these suburbs and are still substantially higher relative to pre-COVID levels.

Queensland’s Wide Bay-Burnett region, the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef,

dominated the top spots on the largest gains list since the onset of COVID, with values increasing up to 82.5 per cent in some cases.

Nine of the top 10 best performing coastal suburbs between March 2020 and December

2023 were located in the major centres of Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Gympie-Cooloola and

Maryborough, with values generally rising from a relatively low base.

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