Ararat property market active

ARARAT - Ararat's property market continues to outperform regional centres across the state with Ararat home to one of the fastest growing median house prices of any town in Victoria.

The median price of a home in Ararat has risen to a level not seen since 2010.

The December quarter median price of $179,750 was up 17.9 percent on the September quarter, one of the largest increases of anywhere in the state and well above the statewide increase of 2.6 percent.

Landmark Ararat's managing director, Greg Kerr said there continues to be increased interest from investors and lifestyle buyers curious about what Ararat has to offer.

"They see Ararat has excellent yields on rent returns, lifestyle opportunities in a town with excellent facilities as a major factor in their decision to invest.

"There is less burden on the hip-pocket which is allowing metropolitan buyers into the market and letting those who want to make that tree change, to do so with money to spare."

Elders Real Estate manager, Garry Todd said the market remains relatively buoyant.

"I would go so far as to say there is even a little bit more buoyancy than five months ago," he said.

First National's sales consultant/licensed agent Adam Walker shared the view held by most in the industry that Ararat is prime for property inspection.

"The last four months of last year, were as good as I have seen it for more than 12 months," he said.

"Low interest rates are on everyone's side and we have really turned a corner."

PRD Nationwide branch manager, David Jennings said from his perspective conditions were okay without being buoyant.

He said rental demand remains high, meaning it is still easier to buy a home than to rent one.

Currently only 20 percent of people actually buy into Ararat with 70 to 80 percent renting forcing prices above average due to the demand.

Mr Todd said Ararat people always seem to be a bit more hesitant about making that next step and moving into something bigger and better.

A two bedroom home in Ararat sells for $151,000 at the moment, three bedroom at $166,000 and four bedrooms at $261,000.

The median price paid for renting a property is $230 a week with people paying $190 for a two bedroom, $250 for a three bedroom and $300 for a four bedroom property.

Older couples and their families occupy 21.6 percent of the market, established couples and families 15.1 percent and elderly singles 13 percent.

"There is no real incentive for first home buyers ahead of anyone else and there has been more momentum in the last 12 months than there has ever been," Mr Kerr said.

Landmark Harcourts' Benchmark report which provides an in depth analysis of all settled property sales trends across regional and rural Australia found agricultural properties in the less than four hectare and 40 hectare and above categories each recorded solid prices growth over the previous year of 6.3 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively.

Low interest rates, a lower dollar and rising confidence has been credited as the positive factors contributing to the improved performances.

The one issue continuing to cause people to think twice about entering the local property market is the level of rates they will pay.

Mr Jennings has floated the merger of council areas as a possible solution, saying it could ease monetary pressures faced by ratepayers.

Mr Kerr said the only thing that will put a halt to current investor or buyer confidence will be the prospect of an interest rate rise, which at the moment is unlikely, and at record low levels are stimulating people's thinking.

Mr Walker and Mr Jennings agreed the conditions at present mean that the year ahead should be no different to last.

"I would expect it to continue the way it did late last year and give people confidence in the town to upgrade to something more substantial," Mr Walker said.

"We had a very good year last year and I see no reason why that should change," Mr Jennings said.

Mr Todd said he still believed there was room for the market to improve even further.

"I can only see positives for the future of the Ararat property market, we could see rises of between 10 to 20 percent."

* See page 12 for the Gilbert family's reasons for leaving the city behind, and how 'The Biggest Loser' has made its mark.

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