Re­fin­ery could spark a real es­tate boom

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - NEWS - ■ Jac­inta Can­ta­tore

In­vestors are al­ready snap­ping up houses near the highly an­tic­i­pated lithium re­fin­ery in Ke­mer­ton, with real­tors in the area be­liev­ing it could spark a hous­ing boom across the South West.

Work at Albe­marle’s lithium re­fin­ery is set to cre­ate 500 jobs from early next year and a fur­ther 500 jobs to op­er­ate the plant.

Brunswick res­i­dent Jennifer Rod­well re­cently put her home on the mar­ket with DAD Realty and used the close prox­im­ity to the new mine as a way to pitch to po­ten­tial buy­ers.

“The lithium plant has been in the news a lot, so I thought why not?” Mrs Rod­well said.

“I thought it would be re­ally great for a fam­ily re­lo­cat­ing to the area be­cause of the re­fin­ery.”

Aus­tralind DAD Realty sales con­sul­tant Daniel Meads said in­vestors had pur­chased nine houses in the area in July and he had showed a fur­ther nine homes to in­vestors in the past week.

“We’ve sold one house to one of the en­gi­neers who will be start­ing work there next year,” Mr Meads said.

“If more peo­ple move to the area there could be great flow-on ef­fects for the South West econ­omy.”

Orig­i­nally from New Zealand, Mr Meads said there was talk back home of di­rect flights from New Zealand to Perth based on the an­tic­i­pated lithium boom as well as the re­newed min­ing ac­tiv­ity in the north of the State.

Han­cock Real Es­tate owner Mal Han­cock and his wife Tanya said the new em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties had the po­ten­tial to drive up house val­ues and tighten the rental mar­ket in what had been a volatile mar­ket since the min­ing bust.

Mr Han­cock said houses in the re­gion were un­der­val­ued and the es­tab­lished home mar­ket was well be­low new home re­place­ment cost.

Banks were lend­ing to his clients at a rate of 4 per cent in­ter­est, but the low va­cancy rate meant the rental re­turn was be­tween 5 and 7 per cent.

“Peo­ple buy­ing now could see a ben­e­fit of $70,000 to $100,000,” Mr Han­cock said.

“It’s a smart time to buy.”

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