Tips for a calm sea change
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?
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.
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