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Country owners holding on to their properties

Property data shows that over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing availability has decreased significantly in some Australian suburbs.

According to an analysis of PropTrack’s February listings report, in Western Australia, Nannup and North Dandalup are amongst the top 10 hardest suburbs to find a house, ranking third and sixth respectively.

REIWA Deputy President Joe White said one of the reasons these suburbs were popular was because of their country-like location with access to major sites and cities.

“These are small communities where you’re on a first-name basis and have access to essential facilities,” he said. “You’re not just a number at the local doctor’s surgery.”

During the first two years of COVID-19, the unpredictable lockdowns meant people began to reconsider where they were based.

“Perth was a pretty lonely place during lockdown, but the towns further away had less restrictions and were actually a lot more free,” Mr White said.

“The trend was basically decentralisation and, all of a sudden, the tyranny of distance wasn’t a tyranny, it was a reward.

“We saw a definite cultural change and it started with people who owned a house choosing to go into lockdown at their beach house, and a lot of them didn’t leave. Then others followed and that’s how the dominoes hit each other.”

Ray White South West Central Principal Mike Tucker said another reason for the decrease in available housing in these areas was an increase in demand.

“In Nannup, a lot of current owners have decided they’re really lucky where they are and don’t want to sell,” he said. “We haven’t seen the same amount of properties coming on the market that we typically would.

“Nannup is centrally located, with access to all the facilities of Busselton and Margaret River, but it still offers the true country lifestyle a lot of people are chasing.”

Mr Tucker said the lack of Western Australians being able to go overseas had led to a lot of the South West being rediscovered.

“People are starting to realise how amazing and beautiful this area is, so COVID-19 has been a real catalyst for bringing people back into the regions,” he said.

Prior to COVID-19, Nannup was a popular spot due to its location, but Mr Tucker said the area was now being discovered on a large scale, meaning demand for houses in Nannup was outstripping supply.

“This trend isn’t going away,” he said. “It’s been consistent throughout the last three or four months.”

Mr White said a perk of living in areas like Nannup and North Dandalup was affordability.

“For $400,000 or $500,000, you can pick up a good place in somewhere like North Dandalup and still be within a stone’s throw from Perth,” he said. “It is affordable but still in a pretty, natural environment.”

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