King Creek, NSW, among 170 regions to record median property price above $1 million for first time
When Nick Slater started selling houses in King Creek on the NSW Mid North Coast a decade ago, a seven-figure price tag was "unthinkable".
Now, he says, it is the new norm.
"Around five years ago in the King Creek market, we would have seen the first property exceed a million dollars," Mr Slater said.
"Then gradually, we started seeing the first properties sell for over two million.
"In the past four to five years, we've seen a 100 per cent increase on some homes, and the average price is now around $1.5 million."
The semi-rural area saw the median value of homes sold jump by $425,000 in the year to May, according to the latest data from CoreLogic.
King Creek is one of 170 regional house or unit markets across the nation to record a median value at or above $1 million for the first time.
The total number in regional areas is now 270.
It is a common trend in the area, with eight other Mid North Coast suburbs also joining the million-dollar median club: Sapphire Beach, Moonee Beach, Korora, Bellingen, Bonny Hills, Lake Cathie, Emerald Beach and Bonville.
Mr Slater said the rise was likely due to the shifting buyer demographic, with the area's "acreage lifestyle" in a hinterland location near a coastal regional centre attracting Sydney's retirees.
"The proportion of city buyers has increased immensely," he said.
"The market is older people, from Sydney, who are cashed up and basically immune to interest rate rises."
He said younger families were priced out of the area.
"These large homes on acreages are absolutely perfect for families," Mr Slater said.
"However, over recent years, as prices have grown substantially, the market has become disproportionately skewed towards semi-retired and retired couples."
As house prices rise, the issue of affordability continues to plague many prospective buyers.
Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) chief executive Kerry Grace said unattainable house prices were exacerbating a homelessness crisis and an essential worker shortage in regional areas.
"There's just such a lack of availability of housing in the market whether that's the dire shortage of rentals or the amount of houses that are actually affordable for people to buy," Ms Grace said.
RDAMNC's survey of key workers across industries including healthcare, aged care, childcare, hospitality and agriculture showed many had been looking to buy property in the region but found it impossible in the face of low availability and skyrocketing prices.
"We're hearing some harrowing stories of people who can't find rentals or get into the property market," Ms Grace said.
"A lot of these key workers have wages that are relatively low, and getting into the housing market is increasingly difficult."
Ms Grace said the organisation's research on the housing affordability crisis revealed not only a shortage of available accommodation but a problem of empty spaces in large homes.
"There's 66,000 spare bedrooms on the Mid North Coast, and we're trying to encourage more people to look at sharing options," she said.
The Byron and Tweed region of NSW took out four of the top five median values in regional NSW.
Byron Bay houses topped the list with a median value of $2,741,847, up approximately $400,000 from this time last year.
Casuarina, Myocum and Suffolk Park also made the top five, with medians of above $2 million. Burradoo in the Southern Highlands had the fourth-highest median at $2,416,897.
The majority of the new regional million-dollar markets are concentrated in the regions Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven,18, Illawarra,16, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, 23 regions.
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