Giving up on Melbourne? Here's what else is out there...

STANDARD, NEWS, Warrnambool City Council trees to be placed in Liebig Street after renewal. 170616 Pictured: This stunning species of tree, currently seen in Lutana Grove, are planned to be placed along Liebig Street once the renewal works are complete. Picture: Amy Paton
STANDARD, NEWS, Warrnambool City Council trees to be placed in Liebig Street after renewal. 170616 Pictured: This stunning species of tree, currently seen in Lutana Grove, are planned to be placed along Liebig Street once the renewal works are complete. Picture: Amy Paton

For property pundits that look beyond Melbourne's sprawl, regional cities across the state are currently an appealing option.

The major cities ??? Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Geelong, Wodonga and Warrnambool ??? have all recorded steady house price growth over the past year.

Decentralised government departments and rail infrastructure upgrades have boosted confidence in regional real estate, while first-home buyer grants have encouraged young country Victorians to enter the market, with many opting to buy land in new subdivided estates.

Victoria is the fastest growing state in the nation for the third year in a row, and it appears housing affordability has helped to entice new residents to regional areas.


Median house price: $325,000, up 4.4 per cent over the year

Confidence in the Ballarat housing market has been steadily growing, according to Francesca Nicol, Biggin & Scott director. "I think it's just going from strength to strength," she said.

Earlier this year, Premier Daniel Andrews announced 600 state government jobs would be moved to the regional centre over the next three years. Also in the pipeline is a $100 million eco-brewery to be built by Broo Limited, expected to generate 100 jobs for the local economy.

"I think Ballarat is finally being acknowledged for what is is," Ms Nicol said, adding that the city offered cheap industrial and commercial land for businesses. When the train line to Melbourne was upgraded and electrified, property in Ballarat would become even more appealing, Ms Nicol said.

Ms Nicol said first-home buyers were emboldened by state government grants and stamp duty cuts. "A lot of them are taking the time to buy, holding it and then renting it out," she said.

2A Trevor Street, Ballarat EastPhoto: Harcourts Ballarat

Recently sold: 2A Trevor Street, Ballarat East.The three-bedroom weatherboard on a 1000-square metre block sold for $366,000 earlier this week.

406 Skipton Street, RedanPhoto: Biggin & Scott Ballarat

On the market: 406 Skipton Street, Redan. Just a short stroll from the town centre, the four-bedroom period home is expected to fetch between $519,000 and $549,000.

Greater Bendigo

Median house price: $340,000, up 3 per cent over the year

It has been a fairly flat year in Bendigo in terms of house prices. Matt Bowles, Dungey Carter Ketterer director, said first-home buyer grants had kept the median house price at a steady level.

"It has pushed a lot of first-home buyers to build newer properties on outlying subdivision moreso than being attracted to buying established homes closer to town," Mr Bowles said.

Mr Bowles said the majority of first-home buyers were local young people who could spend less than $300,000 on a new house and land package.

"The banks' tightening via APRA on investment lending has certainly slowed the residential investors," he added, "which is a fairly major part of our market being an affordable place to buy investment properties with quite a good return".

Mr Bowles said Bendigo was a stable market, and predicted it would remain steady next year.

46 Honeysuckle Street, BendigoPhoto: PRD Nationwide

Recently sold: 46 Honeysuckle Street, Bendigo. The renovated three-bedroom home close to the city centre sold for $400,000 last week.

75 Wills Street, BendigoPhoto: Dungey Carter Ketterer

On the market:75 Wills Street, Bendigo. Built in the late 1800s, the restored five-bedroom home is on the market for $1,475,000.

Greater Geelong

Median house price: $475,000, up 13 per cent over the year

Geelong has benefited from strong house price growth in Melbourne, with investors and former Melburnians rushing to buy real estate in and around the state's largest regional city.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Richard Simpson said Geelong had dominated the list of top performing regional areas this year, and predicted its strong performance would continue in 2018.

"Buyers who have been priced out of the competitive Melbourne market are looking at Greater Geelong as a more affordable alternative, supported by quality infrastructure, amenities and lifestyle," Mr Simpson said.

9A Wattletree Road, DrumcondraPhoto: Buxton
Recently sold: 9A Wattletree Road, Drumconda. The unrenovated Californian bungalow, located just a few streets from The Esplanade, fetched $885,000 at auction this week.
210 Noble Street, NewtownPhoto: Hodges Geelong

On the market: 210 Noble Street, Newtown. Prestige real estate has well and truly arrived in town. This five-bedroom modernist home, designed by renowned architect Rob Mills, is listed for $4.45 million.

Greater Shepparton

Median house price: $263,000, up 1 per cent over the year

Shepparton could be the dark horse of Victoria's regional property market, according to local agents.

"The market has really taken off in the last 12 months," said Rocky Gagliardi, director of Gagliardi Scott Real Estate. "Building is absolutely flying. We've got more land for sale than ever before."

Mr Gagliardi said there was high demand for industrial spaces, citing the auction of a "pretty old" shed last week. "It sold $100,000 above reserve last Friday, with four bidders. There's just nothing else to buy."

There has been an unprecedented injection of state and federal funding into the city since independent MP Suzanna Sheed was elected in 2014, including $168 million for the local hospital, $73 million for a new courthouse and $35 million for an art museum.

Mr Gagliardi said the median house price remained so cheap because of the sizeable number of small, old housing stock that sold for less than $150,000.

Lot 11 Olympic Avenue, SheppartonPhoto: Rossignoli Real Estate

Recently sold:Lot 11, Olympic Avenue, Shepparton. The 569 square metre block of land, located three kilometres north of the city centre, sold for $60,000 in September.

14 Sutherland Avenue, SheppartonPhoto: Gagliardi Scott Real Estate

On the market:14 Sutherland Avenue, Shepparton. The four-bedroom house will be auctioned in February, with a price guide of between $495,000 and $545,000,


Median house price: $330,000, up 3 per cent over the year

It has been a steady year in real estate for the small coastal city of Warrnambool, and neighbouring Port Fairy. But the true test lies ahead; the summer months are typically the busiest for beachside towns.

Brian O'Halloran & Co director Brian Hancock said the unit market had performed well, as had well-maintained older period homes.

The main street of Warrnambool is undergoing a $15 million redevelopment, a process retailers hope will revitalise small businesses and service providers.

Mr O'Halloran said the local economy and housing sector was closely tied to the dairy industry.

"If the dairy industry really stabilises and we get a life in farm gate prices for the milk, it throws a lot of confidence back into the immediate future," Mr O'Halloran said.

149 Coulstock Street, WarrnamboolPhoto: Tammy Brown

Recently sold: 149 Coulstock Street, Warrnambool. A classic Edwardian with ocean views, it was recently snapped up for $550,000 after just two days on the market.

3 Honeyeater Court, WarrnamboolPhoto: Ray White Warrnambool

On the market: 3 Honeyeater Court, Warrnambool. The four-bedroom, three-bathroom cottage has an asking price between $499,000 and $520,000.


Median house price: $342,500, up 7 per cent over the year

Wodonga has enjoyed strong price growth and population growth over the past five years. Much of the border town's success comes down to its diverse economy, according to First National Bonnici and Associates director William Bonnici.

Mr Bonnici said the army, tax office and pet food manufacturer Mars were big employers, as was the agriculture industry. "Obviously you don't have to go far to get into viticulture and wineries and gourmet food regions as well."

Infrastructure upgrades in the centre of town had driven higher demand for central properties, while affordable land packages were plentiful on the outskirts. "There's been a lot of land released," Mr Bonnici said. "So there's great opportunities for people wanting to build."

9 Hamilton Place, WodongaPhoto: PJ Murphy

Recently sold: 9 Hamilton Place, Wodonga. The cheep and cheerful three-bedroom house, with outdoor alfresco area, sold for $275,000 earlier this month.

12 Montclair Avenue, WodongaPhoto: First National

On the market: 12 Montclair Avenue, Wodonga. Listed for $425,000, the house has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a backyard pool.

This story Giving up on Melbourne? Here's what else is out there... first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.