Byron Bay has been dominating real estate headlines of late – what with the Hemsworths building their property empire there, Hollywood A-listers dropping in for holiday breaks and homes throughout the shire selling for record prices.
A yet-to-be-built three-storey beach house overlooking Byron’s main beach hit headlines last week after it was listed for an eye-watering $60m, a price that could rival some of the biggest transactions in Sydney or Melbourne when it sells.
Yet divert your attention a little farther north to the Tweed shire, wedged between Byron and the Gold Coast, and you’ll see there’s a property revolution going on there too — particularly in Kingscliff and Casuarina.
What has always been a sleepy coastal strip dotted with small beachside holiday towns is evolving into a vibrant, facility-rich area, with new estates and fancy houses equally fancy price tags.
Last week 13 Daybreak Boulevard in Casuarina went on the market for $4.1m with LJ Hooker. The sale of the five-bedroom luxury new-build house, with a king-size master retreat, two powder rooms, a cinema room and Casuarina Beach on its doorstep, will be a record for the area should it fetch its asking price.
In nearby Kingscliff, a modern five-bedroom Hamptons-inspired home at 71 Cylinders Drive sold for $3.91m in October last year, while in June, 23 Cylinders Drive changed hands for $3.895m, sold to prize home charity Yourtown.
According to listings website realestate.com.au, Kingscliff has a median house price of $1.25m, with price growth exceeding 10 per cent over the past five years. Casuarina has a house median of $1.3m and 7.8 per cent growth. The figures supersede many of the Gold Coast’s top beachside suburbs such as Coollangatta, Palm Beach and Burleigh Heads.
Local agents say house and land values in the Tweed are soaring, with the region sitting on the cusp of a massive growth spurt.
Nick Witheriff, an area specialist and estate agent at LJ Hooker in Kingscliff, said it would come as a surprise to many that the prices now being achieved in some areas were on with those of the Gold Coast or Byron.
Mr Witheriff said big investment in infrastructure and amenities was driving the boom.
“Multi-millions of dollars have been committed to the Tweed Coast in the past couple of years, including $673.2m on the new hospital, improved childcare, aged care, roads and schools. There is now a Coles and specialty stores in Casuarina. Until recently the closest shopping centre was Tweed Heads. So people are finding they can live here now and have all the amenities that they need.”
The other driver, he said, was structure of ownership.
“The Tweed used to be a place where people came for a holiday or weekend, but now we’re a place where people live full-time.
“Two years ago only 50 to 60 per cent of residential property was owned by owner-occupiers, but that has now risen to 85 per cent. What that has done is change the availability of rentals pushing both rental and house prices up.”
Mr Witheriff said a spike in land values of up to 25 per cent in the past 12 months, was also a factor in the recent peaks being achieved on new and second-hand homes.
Builder and Tweed Coast estate agent Greg Costello said, per square metre, land prices were rising in line with, or sometimes more than, those of the Gold Coast.
“Go back three months and a 1000 sqm block was selling for $1.1m to $1.2m.
This month we’ve had 400 sqm blocks settle for $1.55m, which is nearly double the price of the 1000 sqm blocks we were selling two months ago,” he said.
“[Prices] in our area are going up far quicker than the Gold Coast and the reason is we have a community of 4,500 people on which the government and developers are spending $10bn on infrastructure. There is nowhere else like it Australia. So where the growth on the Gold Coast coast is exponential, the Tweed is seeing increases ten-fold on that again.”
Contrary to the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, which have had an influx of Melburnian and Sydneysiders snapping up properties to escape COVID, in turn pushing up prices in those areas, Mr Witheriff said the Tweed had seen less of that.
In fact, most recent buyers have been locals, pushed out from those now unaffordable neighbouring regions.
“What COVID has done is open the door for people to move away from places like Byron Bay. In the past month I have sold four properties to people from there,” Mr Witheriff said.
“Sydney and Melbourne people are flocking to Byron for the perceived lifestyle and are prepared to pay big money for it, but the locals are getting sick of the resulting traffic and congestion, so they’re taking the $5m or $6m they’re getting for their homes there and buying here for $3m or $4m.
Mr Costello is so confident about the recent shift in the market that he has put his infamous Jetsons House back up for sale.
The house at 1 Beech Avenue, Casuarina, appears to defy gravity with its 80-tonne top-level cantilevered off the ground floor structure in a dramatic design reminiscent of The Jetsons TV animation.
It will be his second attempt to sell the house which passed in at $3.4 million in April 2019 in one of the world’s first live-streamed cryptocurrency auctions.
“Things are not what they were even a year ago. The land value alone has risen since it was last on the market, so it’s going to be worth a lot more than it was,” he said. “Now is it’s time.”