State of the market – Autumn 2024

As we wave farewell to Summer and set our sights more firmly on 2024, there is one over-riding phrase that sums up the current state of the market….it’s getting busier!

Could it be that the market is turning? There are a number of indicators that lead us to believe that it is.

Firstly, we are seeing more people at open houses. In recent times we have had up to 30 couples per viewing, which is more than during covid times, and particularly positive for vendors.

We know that the steady rise in interest rates has now stalled and this is giving purchasers more confidence in their ability to meet mortgage repayments. The interest rate stall also means there is a stronger notion of affordability as people know how much they can borrow and where their limits are. There’s also speculation that interest rates may need to head south to help stimulate the economy, and this feeds into market confidence and the potential for a turning market.

The supply of properties for sale remains steady. There is a strong belief that more properties will come onto the market on the back of an anticipated recovery in value within the next six months.

We welcome the return of first home buyers to the current market (see breakout box). These buyers are helping to shape the local real estate environment and are injecting plenty of enthusiasm into the mix. Meanwhile, investors are thin on the ground with the majority of buyers falling within the owner/occupier category.

Unlike the covid craziness of 2020-2022, the present steady market gives people time to get their financial affairs in order. However, some banks are now showing rapid finance approval capability and on occasion, we are seeing these buyers edging ahead of the slower movers. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.

In all, the north coast real estate market is looking up with plenty of optimism around the grounds. While property values are not rushing upwards, there is considerable buyer interest. Property values are buoyant and properties are now selling quicker than they have over the last six months which is great news.

Read more in my latest newsletter . . .


State of the market – Spring 2023

There is a lot of energy right now in North Coast real estate. Buyers have made a solid return to the market, buoyed in part by the plateauing of interest rates. Buyers are less concerned about the potential for future rate rises and have a better handle on their capacity to meet loan repayments, which is generating a lot of positivity around the traps. 

Are we done with interest rate rises?  We certainly think so, and we would argue that if anything, there’s a decent chance they could come down in the near future.

Armed with optimism, we are seeing a steady and growing stream of people at open houses. And sellers are coming to the party by being more realistic about what their properties are worth in the current market. The outrageous prices being achieved during covid times are now largely consigned to history with some rare exceptions.

Stock volumes are up on twelve months ago and are continuing to show an upward trajectory, and there’s a genuine feeling that the traditional Spring market has well and truly arrived.

Buyer demand is strong, with a mix of homeowners as well as investors making their presence felt at open houses and auctions.

Prices remain steady but given demand there is a strong likelihood of price rises in the not-too-distant future.

Properties are selling faster than a few months ago, with days on the market averaging between three and five weeks.

Where is the market heading? While Sydney buyers are not featuring too heavily in the present market, we do expect to see this migration pathway open up again in the near future as Sydney’s population continues to boom and the Northern Rivers experiences the flow on effect of migration.

An important reflection on the current market is the absence of the much referenced ‘mortgage cliff’. The mortgage cliff refers to the expiry of cheap, fixed rate home loans offered during the covid era, when the RBA reduced the cash rate to an ultra-low 0.1 per cent. Perhaps other regions have experienced their own mortgage cliffs, but we have not experienced it here. You could speculate that people have shown excellent anticipation skills in our region and have gotten ahead of the curve? Whatever the reason, this is good news all around.

While prices have declined a little here, and the current interest rate of 4.1 per cent is a far cry from the pandemic era, the market remains steady and there is cause for optimism. The Northern Rivers property market remains resilient!

Read more in my Spring newsletter . . . 


State of the market – Winter 2023

We wanted to start this newsletter edition with some classic Ted Lasso quotes (if you haven’t seen this program yet then do yourselves a favour!). 

“There’s two buttons I never like to hit: that’s panic and snooze.” 

“You know what the happiest animal on earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory.”

We include these because in real estate and in life, we appreciate Ted’s ‘glass half full’ approach to everything, and the reminder not to dwell on the past. There’s a lot we can all learn from Ted.

Real estate is basically one enormous recurring cycle. And at the moment, we believe we are nearing the top of the interest rate cycle, at 4.10 per cent is its highest rate in eleven years. Interest rates are tidally linked to the property market, with higher interest rates lowering demand and softening sale prices. If rates are indeed peaking right now, then we should be nearing the end of the price lowering cycle.

Another feature of the local real estate equation is stock levels. Low stock levels have the effect of putting a floor under house prices as buyers must essentially compete to purchase the few available properties on the market, and thus mitigating the downward pressure on prices.

In our region, there’s a real sense of the market finding its groove again. While the Covid FOMO period has definitely passed on, the subsequent period of latency has also passed, and we are emerging into a period characterised by relatively low stock levels, solid interest and steady property transactions. There is more movement than at the beginning of the year, and when the right property presents itself then good competition is achieving sound results for sellers.

Who’s buying? Interest is mainly confined to locals from the northern rivers, in the eternal upsizing/downsizing pattern. In a big change from the covid era, buyers from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are relatively rare at present.

Established houses are really coming into their own right now, particularly when compared with new house builds which can be quite a drawn out process and also unexpectedly pricey.

Time on market has improved again. Earlier in the year we were seeing time on market of around eight – twelve weeks as the market was declining and buyers were holding off, but this time-frame has now been reigned back in to around four – six weeks. But note that every property is different and there is no one-size-fits-all rule on this marker.

Is now a good time to buy? Absolutely! There is an expectation that interest rates will soon peak and hopefully begin to subside in the near future. There’s no question that a lowering of interest rates – when it happens – will create more competition and push up prices, so moving now before this transpires will help put you ahead of the game. Other positives for buyers entering the current market is realistic pricing and a lack of rampant competition as witnessed during covid which means a calmer and less frenzied buying experience. In six months time, it may be harder to enter the market with prices expected to rise.

Stamp duty relief for first home buyers is also having a positive effect and stimulating demand.

Is now a good time to sell? Also absolutely! In this steady market, transactions are ticking over at a faster rate than earlier in the year. But getting the price right is absolutely critical to achieving a successful result. With low stock levels, there are less competing properties and your house has the ability to stand out from the crowd and really shine.

Middle of the market grey spot

The mid-point is proving an enigma in the current market. The middle of the market for our region is a price point of between about $1.1 – $1.4 million, and we are finding that properties in this bracket typically take a little longer to sell. There is more interest and activity around properties which are priced under $1 million.  And anything priced over $1.4 million is also more fluid.

There are a couple of reasons for this discrepancy. Firstly there’s likely a bit of psychology around the magic million number, with a perception that it’s more of a bargain. There’s also an appreciation that getting borrowings is more difficult now and borrowing capacities have been reduced, while people in the $1.4M+ bracket have an advantage in that they may not be borrowing.

This does create a speed hump for middle of the market properties which ironically present as excellent lifestyle homes for buyers. However as we always say, a well presented and accurately priced property will always sell in any market; but in the current market sitting in the middle might mean it just takes a little longer.

View more in my latest newsletter . . .


State of the market – Autumn 2023

The halcyon days of covid when FOMO ruled the local real estate market are now behind us. Since this time, the market has been in a long transition period of ‘refinding’ itself. But we have now landed. 

Our best word to describe the current market is to say that things are now ‘transacting’. What does this mean? During the last six months, thanks in part to media speculation about interest rate rises, buyers have been afraid to commit to a purchase. Now, despite the fact that we have just experienced our tenth consecutive interest rate rise, people are adjusting to this new normal and are settling in, making offers and properties are gently moving through the system.

Core logic figures indicate that prices have dropped by 18.6 per cent across the whole of the North Coast. And while this might sound like a lot, its worth reminding ourselves that during the covid era, prices went up by some 50 per cent – and in some cases up to 100 per cent, so a modest drop of 18.6 per cent is not out of order in the grand scheme, and is not cause for concern. It was inevitable that prices would need to relax, as the former prices were for most simply unsustainable.

Our view is that we have now found the balance, with buyers becoming increasingly reassured that property prices are not going to fall off the cliff any time soon. This way of thinking is underscored by the knowledge that with the current low housing supply in our region, there will always be a floor underpinning the price. We also know that our region continues to grow – people still want to come here and those that are already here are not keen to go anywhere else – so an undersupply continues to keep the price buoyant.

The drop in price is creating an environment where buyers are more interested, and the stability of recent times is enabling transactions. It’s worth mentioning that the slow down kicked in during April 2022, so we are now eleven months into this new phase. And twelve months on from the floods.

Who are the buyers in today’s market? Around 80 per cent are locals, with a trickle coming from Sydney but this group are not necessarily buying. We are seeing more first home buyers and despite rising interest rates, the drop in price has largely boosted their ability to enter the market. During covid times we had a lot of people relocatin from Byron and Suffolk Park, but this sideways migration has slowed.

The emergence of banking pre-approvals has affected the market in a positive manner, with deals now rarely falling over because the homework has already been done.

Time on the market is currently sitting in a four-to-six-week window, with wide variations. The old adage that ‘nobody wants what nobody else wants’ remains true, with some properties, particularly those that are over-priced, landing themselves in the lemon category by would be buyers. The trend of the moment is definitely for new homes with nothing to do other than movein and install Netflix! 

We are continuously asked for predictions on real estate values going forward. Have we hit the bottom? Are prices likely to rise soon? Are we going to fall further? While not even the most ardent follower of local real estate can ever accurately predict what’s around the corner, our instincts tell us that it’s unlikely that prices will rise at the moment. If anything, we expect that they will plateau, with a slight drop, or softening, also quite possible. But it will not be dramatic. Some individual properties may have to discount their price to make a sale, but this will be a circumstantial scenario depending on the buyer and the seller. If people are genuine about selling then they will need to meet the market. We do not expect to see prices dropping to pre-pandemic levels, but it may take a couple of years before things start heading north again.

Our general advice to people is – if you are contemplating selling within the next three years – sell now as things may take a little time to improve.

A tangible benefit of the current market is that we now have the luxury of time. You no longer need to buy a house before you sell to ensure you have a roof over your head; now you can sell first and with a long settlement you will have no problem buying again. Things have normalised. The key with this ideology of course is that for it to work, you must buy and sell in the current market to realise its benefits.

Our approach when we work with vendors remains consistent. We are not in the market for over-pricing and then seeing how that property does. Instead, we will look at recent sales, consider things such as the property age, position, size, location etc, and make a considered assessment on the value of your home. Our goal is to get you the very best price possible, while using our experience to guide you through the process in a transparent and professional manner.

Despite market fluctuations, people always need to buy property and sell property. It’s almost as certain as death and taxes! There will always be real estate movement, and nothing in real estate or in life stays the same. A good property will sell in any market. If you are after an opinion on your property, please give us a call.



State of the market – Summer 2023

Well, what a difference a year makes. Just twelve short months ago we were talking about the FOMO effect and how absolutely everything was selling.  Now, we’re in a very different situation. 

We can probably describe the present situation as a kind of ‘hit and miss’ market where some properties sell quickly and some properties might take a little while to sell, and then all of a sudden we will have three or four properties that sell in quick succession and then things go relatively quiet again.

Purchasers are driving the market, and if a purchaser has their finance organised and they find the right property, they will jump quickly. If they are not financially signed off, unsure about what they want or just putting their toe into the water for the first time, then this can put a slow down on proceedings.

Numbers at open homes have declined, and there are less general enquiries now than this time a year ago. Nowadays too, people will just turn up to an open home, whereas last year they would call or email prior seeking information and to register their interest.

Certainly, there are more properties available to purchase than during the FOMO times of twelve months ago, but in tandem, buyers are now a bit choosier.

We are seeing some new to the market buyers with finance approved who are prepared to wait for the “perfect” house, and are then missing out on great properties because they don’t tick every box on their list.

As always in real estate, rumours about the state of the market are thick on the ground. And not all of them are based on fact. Some buyers are working off the presumption that the local market has plummeted (it hasn’t). And they are seeking a significant discount off the asking price to reflect this perception. But what they don’t realise is that most of the time, the price of the home on offer already reflects current sales for similar properties on the market, and is both considered and accurate. Buyers who are particularly picky or unrealistic can miss out on well-priced, excellent properties.

Presentation of a home for sale is more important than ever in this market. This is ironic as in the hot market of twelve months ago when prices were stronger it was less important to spend money on styling, but now, it can be the difference between getting interest or not.

The first impression components are the most important, so if you are selling, pay attention to the front garden and façade. And then once buyers come inside, you need to build on that first impression with five-star presentation.

Buyers are primarily seeking two things: 

  1. Lifestyle 
  2. Properties that are ready to move into, with nothing to do 

People don’t want the uncertainty and inconvenience of a major renovation. And with blowout building costs, long waits on building approvals (which can be as long as six plus months), and disrupted supply chains slowing progress, this is a significant factor in buyers minds.

Investors are presently missing in action, and no doubt they will return as the market rides out this current cycle. What we do know is that all markets go up and down and are locked into an eternal cycle. And rising interest rates are a significant part of this cycle.

Twelve months ago, property was more expensive but cheaper to finance. Now, we have cheaper property but it’s more expensive to finance. A bit like yin and yang, market forces will continue to do their thing, and for every downturn there is a silver lining.

And the biggest silver lining of all is the opportunity to live in the beautiful northern rivers. Nothing can beat that!

Read more in my Summer newsletter . . .


State of the market – Spring 2022

The world of real estate is in constant change as we migrate through the cycles. Stay in the game long enough and you soon recognise another cycle rippling your way, and so it is for the present north coast market.

The best description we have for the current market is that it is softening. You will likely have seen much speculation in the media about changes in real estate values, with discussions centering around the impact of interest rates finally coming off their record low base and increasing month on month; high inflation; excessive prices for fuel and food; and ongoing challenges to supply chains. All of these factors do impact the real estate market as they affect a person’s capacity to both obtain and then repay their mortgage, but the good news for us here is that a softening market is far from a cliff and gives us much to work with.

The silver lining: Certainly, interest rate rises have slowed down what was a pretty hot market. While we are never aware of it at the time, looking in the rear-view mirror we can determine that the recent market peaked in April 2022, and is now adjusting marginally downwards.

Interest rate rises have the effect of slowing demand for new property as would be borrowers grow concerned at their capacity to meet their loan.

In many ways, the current market feels much more like a ‘normal’ market. We continue to experience steady demand; people still need to buy and sell; but the frenzy of recent times coupled with the FOMO effect has passed.

A year ago, it was common practice for people to buy first before selling due to demand pressures. Do otherwise and you risked being homeless in the interim. Now, sellers have more time, and can sell first before looking around and making a purchase. It’s a much less stressful scenario.

Days on the market is always an interesting indicator of market forces, and in recent weeks we have witnessed this gradually extend outwards. At the present time, time on the market is four to six weeks. However, this extended time can also be attributed to buyer delays with finance.

We are no longer seeing the cashed-up Sydney migration, so the buyer pool is mainly comprised of locals who are needing finance to make a purchase. And with interest rates rising, this is having the effect of lowering people’s borrowing capacity.

Another signal of a more ‘normal’ market is that some buyers, who were previously missing out as they were either financially disorganised or taking too long to make decisions, now have the time and the opportunity to get their toe into the market.

Sellers are typically now able to offer more flexible terms such as longer settlement times, and this is another sign of a more balanced market.

The numbers of people attending open homes has dropped. We usually have one main buyer who leads the charge, but they are still wanting to look around a bit before deciding. Multiple buyer competition is not as common as it was six months ago, but there are still plenty of instances where bidding competition for properties is fierce. Without competition, buyers are in a better position to negotiate on price.

The most sought-after properties are new homes. This is largely due to the current disrupted building sector, with building material availability and price fluctuations making renovations more expensive and time consuming.

Read more in my Spring 2022 newsletter . . .


State of the market – Winter 2022

The current real estate market can be characterised as ‘stable’. Overall, there has been a slowdown and this is creating a more constant situation, where buyers have more time to make decisions. The sense of panic that we witnessed as recently as six months ago is no longer present, and the buying and selling process is more considered.

We continue to see good results, with property prices remaining strong; but the heat has come off and we are not seeing quick sales or super-inflated prices. Overall, vendors need to adjust their expectations to this market and understand that the FOMO ethos of the last two years has now moved on. But sales prices are positive, excellent results are still being achieved, interest in properties remains strong, and the market continues to hum.

Properties are taking a little longer to sell in comparison to the last two years, and in many ways it feels as if the property market has returned to a more normal situation. This is also reflected in the average time on market, which is now a far more typical three-four weeks.

Like most markets, property supply is sporadic and tending to arrive in dribs and drabs, but those that wish to sell are genuine and there are solid opportunities to purchase good properties.

There are now less people in the buyer’s pool. The covid exodus has concluded and buyers from Sydney and other capital cities have diminished. Most buyers are local people, with some rare exceptions. This is another example of the market returning to more normal times.

In many ways, our market is caught up in a much bigger chain reaction, where sales have slowed in Sydney, and this means less people are buying in Byron and Suffolk Park, and this then affects the local buying pool and has a bearing on our market.

There are also many other outside factors contributing to our market, such as rising interest rates (see right) and the federal election. In the lead up to an election, real estate typically slows down as people grow more cautious and wait to see who wins government and what this can mean for their personal circumstances. This is despite the fact that the outcome may have little direct affect.

Investors are currently sitting on the sidelines of the market, waiting for opportunity and looking for bargains.

Read more in my Winter 2022 newsletter . . . .


State of the market – Autumn 2022

Given the size and magnitude of the recent flood emergency, just how the floods will affect the local property market is hard to know. 

After the Brisbane floods of 2011, some flood impacted suburbs experienced a 6-10 per cent loss in value, so we can guestimate a 10 per cent devaluation on flood affected areas within our region as buyers step back from the market.

However, we want to stress that these decisions are likely to be temporary. Drawing again from the Brisbane flood experience in 2011, the decline kicked into recovery mode some ten months later and had fully recovered within three years. We do expect there will be a bounce back locally over time as cleanups conclude and the community rebuilds. Whether you believe it was a one in 100-year flood; or one in 500 years; or one in 3,500 years – things will recover.

In the short term, buyers are likely to be more interested in higher positioned suburbs that were unaffected by the flood, such as East Ballina, Lennox Head and Alstonville. We can expect that demand and price rises are likely in these areas as buyers respond to the flood aftermath.

How the flood impacts rentals also remains to be seen. With the area in what is now a severe housing crisis, rents may be unaffected from within the flood zone. If we draw again from the Brisbane experience of 2011, none of the affected suburbs saw a decline in rental value. Instead, rents rose some four per cent within the first year. A more likely scenario is that rental prices outside of the flood impacted zone will continue their upward trajectory.

Prior to the flood event, the local world of real estate was still very busy, with strong demand, but not at the intensity levels that we experienced last year. Good properties were achieving excellent prices; whereas middle of the road properties were selling well, but not achieving the outlandish prices of their luxurious cousins.

Interest rates are on the rise for the first time in forever. Particularly longer-term fixed rates. This is likely to affect the market moving forward as buyers start to feel the pinch of increased mortgage repayments.

View more in my Autumn newsletter which contains links to flood assistance sites.


State of the market – Summer 2022

The north coast property market continues to strengthen and is in a better position than just three months ago. We now have more stock for buyers, with the traditional Spring market bringing out a moderate rise in new properties for sale. What’s on offer? Right now we’re seeing investors selling, with a number of units and investment properties up for sale, and their owners capitalising on the excellent market. Some of these properties are being purchased by non-investors, and this is having a direct impact on rental market availability.

Whilst things have improved and prices remain strong, the housing market remains relatively tight, with plenty of people missing out. Those that miss out are widening their net and looking further afield to areas like Alstonville and Lismore, and this inland migration micro trend is helping to push up prices right across the region.

For our immediate area, Lennox and East Ballina remain on parity for the hot spot tag, with interest in these two locations proving unstoppable.

Cumbalum is also becoming a popular destination for people looking for new homes. This region is rapidly becoming more established and offers a better price point.

First Home buyers are a strong presence in the unit market. This is a more affordable property option for this demographic, although unit prices remain strong.

We still continue to operate in unprecedented times, particularly within the high-end luxury property market, with some crazy prices rewriting the record books. And this is one of many factors helping to drive the overall market upwards.

Byron Bay remains the main real estate market driver, with our northern neighbour’s sale prices regularly making headlines. We’re also seeing a flush through effect, where former Sydney siders are buying in Byron, and sellers from Byron are then relocating to our region. With the Byron market effectively twice the price of Ballina/Lennox, these buyers are in an excellent position to outbid everyone, and this is in turn affects prices and availability in this market. When you consider that Byron looks cheap to a Sydneysider; and then Ballina/Lennox looks cheap to a buyer from Byron, it’s likely that this trend will continue to affect our market for some time.

Having said this, we are also not expecting to see a significant new wave of migration from Sydney to the Northern Rivers. Our feeling is that those who can move have most likely already done so. We’ll see how this prediction plays out in the months ahead.

With state borders opening up, we are seeing people moving more freely. This welcome change has had a knock-on effect within the market, as people who were previously sitting on the fence with their property and waiting for things to settle now becoming more confident about committing to a sale and moving on.

It is hard to predict what the next twelve months will look like as we remain in unchartered waters. From this point in time the market could go up or it could go down. However, one thing remains true, and that is to never try and pick the ‘top’ of the market. It may have already peaked, or the peak may be yet to come. Our advice to anyone considering selling is to sell when the time is right for you, and to then own that decision.

Read more in my Summer 2022 newsletter . . . 


State of Market – Spring 2021

It’s a curious thing to be reflecting on real estate market conditions on the North Coast after emerging from five weeks of lockdown smack bang into what is traditionally our busiest period. As usual, COVID continues to rewrite the rulebook, but there are plenty of signs that lead us to believe that the tsunami of demand for North Coast property is going to continue.


In July and immediately prior to lockdown, we experienced a noticeable growth in both demand and FOMO. The lockdown has simply put transactions on ice for a few weeks, and we confidently predict that there will be some catching up to do now that lockdown has lifted. Combine this with a Spring market and there’s potential for a double bounce.

While demand is strong, property supply is limited. And this means it is truly a sellers’ market. Every new listing is highly anticipated and hotly contested by an eager buyer group.

Right now, we have many buyers and underbidders who have narrowly missed out on recent sales and are poised and ready, keen not to miss out again.

People are continuing to relocate from the cities to our region and this pattern will likely continue until we achieve some sort of post covid milestone. And with its reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, we are also seeing people from outside the area purchasing second properties in our region, and this is helping to accelerate demand and squeeze supply.

The rolling hills of our hinterland region remains sought after for the cashed-up buyer seeking space and privacy.

The investment market has been gathering pace with investors adamant that price and demand are only going to continue to head north in our region. We certainly have a very strong rental demand at present, so people looking to enter the investment market have the reassurance of a healthy interest in their rental.

The owner occupier market has continued its strong growth as more people want to call the north coast home. We are also seeing quite a few first home buyers entering the property market, with a particular interest in units. And this is understandable with the entry price for a home in Ballina now around $700,000 and units providing the only affordable option for some.

Which purchasers do best in the current market? Those who are serious, have their finances fully approved, and are ready to jump. The early bird really does get the worm.

For anyone reading this newsletter who is toying with the idea of selling, consider reaching out to us. We can offer an obligation free appraisal of your property and explain the likely scenarios for a happy, healthy    and stress-free sale. Sellers hold all the aces in the current market. It is simply one of the best times to be selling a home. Read more in my Spring 2021 newsletter . . .