Wollongong land values flatline

Wollongong's total land value has virtually flatlined, dropping by $20 million over the past three years, according to NSW Valuer-General Philip Western.

But property owners hoping the slight decrease might lead to some future rate relief appear to be out of luck, with Wollongong City Council saying it still plans to raise rates by up to 25 per cent.

Mr Western yesterday revealed the total value of 67,457 properties in the local government area had dropped from $20.51 billion in 2010 to about $20.49 billion as at July 1 last year.

Councils use these valuations, which are calculated by the NSW government on a three-year cycle and are based on relevant land and property sales data, as a guide for setting ordinary rates.

Yesterday, the council's general manager, David Farmer, said the slow growth would not change plans to implement a rate rise through the controversial financial sustainability review.

The council is considering rate rises of between 16 and 25 per cent over the next three years, as well as some service cuts and efficiencies, as part of the review.

Mr Farmer said the change in overall land values did not affect the total amount of revenue the council collected.

"It doesn't make a difference to our total income, it just determines the share of that total that land owners pay," he said.

"We still need to either increase our overall income or decrease our costs through the financial sustainability review and that is what we're debating at the moment."

He also said this year's figures from the Valuer-General were unlikely to affect many property owners in the Wollongong LGA because the overall decrease represented a 0.01 per cent shift since 2010.

"From our calculations, this is unlikely to have much of an effect on most people's rates," he said. "However, there are always individual cases and there will be winners and losers in this - but not many."

Mr Western said his valuation program in Wollongong had been extensive, analysing 775 residential, 50 commercial, 32 industrial and 83 rural sales.

"Slight increases and decreases have been evident in some residential areas, which is a reflection of localised market conditions as opposed to the broader market in general," Mr Western said. "Prestige and waterfront property has generally shown a moderate decrease in land value."

He said commercial and light-industrial land values remained steady, with the value of some commercial properties in the north of the CBD showing slight decreases.

Demand for heavy industrial property slowed and rural residential land values remained steady with the exception of properties within the Kembla Grange Equestrian Estate, which increased moderately.

Despite the drop in land values, Illawarra Real Estate Institute chairman Trever Molenaar said the city's real estate market was booming.

"It does surprise me that the land values have gone down, but I know they do take a blanket approach when it comes to valuing areas," he said.

"Right now, the market is going really well and has increased by leaps and bounds."

He also emphasised the land values issued by the state government were not indicative of a property's overall value but rather "a line in the sand" for councils to use to set rates.

Land owners will receive their individual land valuation notices in the mail soon.


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