First-home buyers may be declining but Wollongong still has plenty to offer, according to the experts.
NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes and Domain Group chief economist Dr Andrew Wilson were both in the region on Tuesday at different events to discuss how the region’s boom showed no signs of slowing down.
Dr Wilson said around 1100 people were moving into the “fertile destination” every week (mostly pushed out of the big city), compared to 1500 in Melbourne.
While the Minister said Wollongong’s population is tipped to reach half a million in the next two decades.
“It is growing faster than Sydney at the moment [and will continue] and it’s because of factors like affordability, lifestyle, strong local economy and that sense Wollongong is becoming part of Greater Sydney,” Dr Wilson said.
“Sydney is chronically under supplied and it’s never going to be fixed.”
Going against the grain of most other Australian markets, capital growth continues to rise with house prices already up 8.2 per cent so far this year in Wollongong, ahead of Sydney and Melbourne at 5 per cent.
Shellharbour is also bucking the trend with a rise of 12.2 per cent so far.
Dr Wilson said prices will continue upward but at a much slower pace than recent years, with around a 6 per cent growth predicted for Wollongong in the next year.
A strong demand for units has considerably pushed up their prices which have seen a 70.6 per cent increase over the past five years in Wollongong, compared to a 52.7 per cent rise for houses.
Fairy Meadow has been the area’s top performer with the median house price climbing to $700,000, the steepest rise for an Illawarra suburb in the past year at 15.1 per cent.
“[It] was always a holiday destination in the old days … rather than an older holiday shack type environment it’s becoming a serious residential community,” Dr Wilson said.
As families seek out greener and cheaper pastures around Wollongong, Dr Wilson predicted more luxury and semi-luxury homes to spring up in the northern suburbs.
He believes confidence has been restored in the Illawarra after the “doom and gloom” brought on by the decline of manufacturing, and it’s reflected in the amount of new developments, especially high rises.
Minister Stokes agreed the region had a great future and was optimistic about the growing opportunities for tourism, trade, logistics, freight, education and health.
“This is a region ripe with opportunity and we’re starting to see the first fruits of that over the last few years and that’s going to accelerate in the future,” Mr Stokes said.
Dr Wilson said the Illawarra “ticked all the boxes” to remain the top performing regional city with new constructions strong and “no oversupply in sight”.