With a predicted (and highly publicised) pandemic-second wave apparently engulfing Victoria, and panic setting in once more as face masks become mandatory for Melbournians, an increasing number of people are heading for the hills.
Earlier this century, a sea and tree change swept the country, as the first wave of retiring baby boomers decided to ditch their inner urban dwellings, for a taste of the quiet life.
Australian television shows, like the predictably named Sea Change, helped to popularise idyllic coastal and regional locations; causing a mini boom in many towns that were once reserved largely for seasonal, holiday home rentals.
At the beginning of last decade however, the tide seemed to turn, as a “second wave” of “empty-nester” retirees elected to downsize from their sprawling suburban family McMansions, whilst remaining close to “the action”.
Inner city apartment and townhouse stock took off across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, resulting in a mini construction boom that saw city skylines suddenly peppered with a notable increase in high rise residential, multi-purpose towers.
Now, as all-consuming COVID-19 hysteria alters the very fabric of our society – and the way we live, work and play – the tide is turning, back in favour of tree change locations.
Anecdotal reports from real estate agents in northern New South Wales and Queensland in particular – where the pandemic seems to have lost momentum – suggest a strong resurgence in popularity for rural real estate.
The regional super-boom
According to several real estate agents who spoke with realestate.com, a “super-boom” is sweeping select rural pockets across the nation, driven largely by city dwellers seeking a secondary, “pandemic-proof” property.
Not wanting to forego the modern luxuries they’ve become accustomed to, most buyers seem to be favouring high-end property and vacant land with sweeping, panoramic vistas in picturesque pockets of the Gold Coast hinterland and Tweed Shire.
Prestige Director for Christie’s Property, Alex Caraco reports, “a 300 to 400 per cent rise during COVID-19 on vacant rural land in the Tallebudgera, Currumbin, Numinbah and Tweed Valleys.”
He told realestate.com, “There has been a super boom in rural property inquiries. People’s thought process is as follows: ‘Why would I want to be locked up like people are unfortunately being locked up in Melbourne in a block of apartments.’”
As city folk suddenly start to think those “crazy doomsday preppers” might not be so crazy after all, they’re now vying to secure a secondary country property to establish as a self-sufficient safe haven, should a more extreme lockdown occur.
“They can then move there as their principal place of residence, not be constrained and grow their own organic food,” said Caraco.
Recently, an old, rundown three bedroom home just over the Queensland border in the NSW Northern Rivers pocket of Mount Burrell, situated on 259 hectares with Tween River frontage sold for $2 million.
“The property was expected to sell in the early one millions,” Caraco said. There were 42 registered bidders by the time it went to auction.
Similar reports are rolling in from other rural real estate agents in the same vicinity. First National Real Estate – Murwillumbah agent Paul Stobbie, said their office is seeing a notable spike in inquiries since the pandemic started. Largely from Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne buyers looking for country “getaways”.
“I think everyone is planning for the end of the world now,” he said.