Tips for a calm sea change

Herald Sun - Property - - OPINION -

IN real es­tate jar­gon, terms like “life­style lo­ca­tion’’ are used for ar­eas where mo­ti­va­tion to live there is not driven by a boom­ing econ­omy, jobs or busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, but well­be­ing.

In these places, peo­ple can es­cape the city, em­brace peace and quiet and be sur­rounded by more space.

Peo­ple are drawn to such places to im­prove their life­style, rather than their bank bal­ance.

A gen­uine life­style change is usu­ally linked to phys­i­cal ben­e­fits: larger home, more space, ease of move­ment, no traf­fic con­ges­tion, friend­lier en­vi­ron­ment, be­ing part of a com­mu­nity … or a per­cep­tion of fresh air in a ru­ral or coastal set­ting.

It tends to be suc­cess­ful if your fi­nances are neatly pro­tected else­where or have en­abled you to en­ter this new lo­ca­tion and life debt-free, re­quir­ing min­i­mal in­come to main­tain the new life­style.

The contradiction is we seek an im­proved life­style with a fo­cus away from money, yet fi­nances are still crit­i­cal to the suc­cess. Ig­nor­ing your fi­nances can trans­form the dream into a night­mare and open spa­ces sud­denly can seem ir­rel­e­vant.

Re­cent re­search fo­cus­ing on life­style lo­ca­tions and me­dian house prices shows how some mar­kets in more well-known ar­eas per­formed over the past five years.

Byron Bay showed a strong 30 per cent in­crease, Lorne was up 15 per cent, while the Gold Coast had re­sults rang­ing from 5-20 per cent.

How­ever for many other ar­eas across Aus­tralia, tiny to vir­tu­ally no gains were recorded. Some even saw losses.

Com­pared with subur­bia, and many city ar­eas where most Aussies re­side, cap­i­tal growth on res­i­den­tial prop­erty is like your new cho­sen life­style — rather re­laxed and gen­er­ally noth­ing like the big city.

So how should we per­ceive buy­ing and sell­ing in these life­style mar­kets?

BUY­ERS

Buy a home be­cause you want to. Never rush to pur­chase and al­ways “try be­fore you buy”. Rent first, so that if it doesn’t work out, you can leave with very lit­tle fi­nan­cial hard­ship.

Com­par­ing val­ues to your ex­ist­ing area is ir­rel­e­vant.

En­sure the price paid is ap­pro­pri­ate for the new area and when you buy, never ex­pect long-term cap­i­tal growth.

Be aware val­ues could dip and be pre­pared to own long term. Val­ues do rise and oc­ca­sion­ally can boom so en­sure you are in a po­si­tion to con­trol when you sell. If you need to move more quickly, be able to rent out your home in case a sale doesn’t hap­pen quickly enough or at a price worth sell­ing for.

Un­der­stand the ver­nac­u­lar, get to know what this mar­ket likes. In a ru­ral area, a small gar­den might suit you, but it might have lim­ited ap­peal to other buy­ers.

Like­wise acreage on a main through road de­feats the dream of ru­ral peace and quiet, no mat­ter how cheap it seems.

Ar­chi­tec­ture too plays a part. A home that con­tra­dicts an area’s pre­ferred style means you will have com­pro­mised po­ten­tial and more lim­ited value growth.

SELLERS

This is not the big city, so ex­pect and un­der­stand that sales can take months, even years.

If sell­ing, choose the right time in the mar­ket cy­cle, ide­ally not when half the area is for sale.

In­vest in mar­ket­ing. Plan your at­tack in line with typ­i­cal mar­ket­ing pe­ri­ods. It could be over many months.

Ev­ery few months keep the list­ing fresh with new pictures, new word­ing, ti­tles, dif­fer­ent me­dia out­lets and even a change of agents.

A life­style lo­ca­tion is all about em­brac­ing and fo­cus­ing on a qual­ity of life and that needs to be more im­por­tant than pure fi­nan­cial gain. En­ter the mar­ket with your eyes wide open and en­joy it.

An­drew Win­ter is host of on Life­style

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