30/07/2008 - 22:00

Optimism despite slow South West market

30/07/2008 - 22:00

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As the slowdown in Western Australia's housing sector continues, the number of properties for sale in the South West is rising, along with lead times on sales.

Optimism despite slow South West market

As the slowdown in Western Australia's housing sector continues, the number of properties for sale in the South West is rising, along with lead times on sales.

Figures from RP Data show the number of properties listed for sale in the last quarter rose significantly in Bunbury, Dunsborough, Margaret River and Augusta, with the latter posting the biggest increase (up 72 per cent).

During the past six months, listings in Margaret River have soared 73 per cent, followed closely by Busselton (66 per cent), while listings in Dunsborough (18.5 per cent) and Augusta (13 per cent) have increased by a smaller margin.

Properties are also taking longer to sell, with the average time taken to sell a house in Dunsborough currently sitting at more than 100 days on average, and 214 days for units.

Time on the market for units in Bunbury and Busselton has also stretched out, to 162 and 79 days, respectively.

And while the luxury holiday home market has been relatively protected until now, real estate agents have pointed to a big increase in the amount of stock for sale, particularly in Dunsborough, Eagle Bay and Yallingup.

Jennings Hopkins Realty property consultant Steve Hopkins said prices at the upper end of the market had begun to retract over the past three to six months.

"There was a time when you could put a house up for sale at 10 per cent above the last sale and it would be at market value," he said.

"[The top end] is coming back now to where it should be."

Mr Hopkins said houses that were selling for $4.5 million 12 months ago were now sitting at about $3.9 million, with prices in middle-range suburbs, such as Dunsborough Lakes, close to 20 per cent lower than last year in some cases.

Stocker Preston's Peter Di Chiera said sales had slowed down across the board, although inquiries and sales in June had improved.

"I'm pretty optimistic it will pick up, if interest rates hold," he said.

Mr Di Chiera said that, despite reports of a slowdown at the top end of the market, there was a lot of interest in rural properties in the $1 million to $2 million range.

He said while many people were waiting for signs the market had bottomed, sales were still ticking over.

"I had two buyers down here last week, one with a budget up to $10 million, the other up to $3 million, and both were for holiday homes, so it's not too desperate. There's still a lot of money in WA," he said.

Price changes have varied between regions, with the median house price in Bunbury falling 11.2 per cent in the past 12 months, to $580,000, while in Augusta the average price is up 12.9 per cent, to $628,750.

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