Property investors turn sights south

Couple swap tight city flat for lifestyle

Wollongong is becoming increasingly attractive to property investors as the Sydney real estate market loses some of the heat from last year's boom.

That's the view of Terry Ryder, founder of the website Hotspotting.com.au, on why the city is a good place in which to invest in 2014.

Writing in the digital publication Property Observer, Mr Ryder said when capital cities boomed there was often a ripple effect in regional NSW.

"Wollongong has defied predictions that it would lapse into recession following economic reversals such as downsizing by BlueScope Steel," he wrote.

"One hysterical headline suggested property values would fall 50 per cent.

"But the Illawarra is the latest example of a regional community fighting back from adverse circumstances.

"A lot of infrastructure and property development money is pumping into Wollongong and real estate markets are rising."

Mr Ryder said although growth continued in Sydney - particularly in areas related to transport infrastructure - it was unlikely the market would retain the heights of 2013.

He said the secret to finding further growth in Sydney was to follow the infrastructure trail or look outside Sydney to regional areas such as Wollongong and Newcastle.

Real Estate Institute Illawarra chairman Trever Molenaar concurred that Wollongong had experienced solid residential growth in recent years, making it a hot spot for property investors.

Properties close to the beach or the northern suburbs in close proximity to Sydney were experiencing very strong sales prices. But despite a city-wide momentum, there were still many suburbs in which affordable real estate could be found.

"We've got some good prices coming out of Fairy Meadow and Mount St Thomas is a little sleeper - that's one where you can still get some good prices and it's close to the city," he said.

Ray and Lyn Bennett, both retirees, moved from the Sutherland Shire to an apartment in the newly constructed Beaches development at Fairy Meadow six weeks ago.

"We lived in a house with views across a reserve to Woolooware Bay," Mr Bennett said.

"We'd been there for 46 years, brought up our children, and we felt that we should get into something requiring less maintenance.

"We saw an ad in the Leader (St George & Sutherland Shire Leader) for this apartment and we hadn't even entertained the idea of coming down to Wollongong, although we were familiar with it.

"But anyway we came for a Sunday drive, looked at the place, and as soon as we walked in the door we were looking over playing fields to the ocean and it just resonated with us," Mr Bennett said.

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