PHOTO: Byron Bay
Byron Bay … beautiful one day, far beyond many people’s pockets the next.
Yet just why has the northern NSW holiday spot been in the grip of such a rapid upward house price spiral since the start of COVID-19?
Could it be because it’s simply a stunning area with gorgeous beaches and lush national parks? Or that it offers such a pleasant escape from the hardships of city lockdowns for out-of-towners and locals alike? Or the fact that land is limited so supply isn’t enough to meet the demand of the flight to the regions?
Or maybe it’s something to do with the high-voltage star power of resident Chris Hemsworth and frequent friends Nicole Kidman, Matt Damon and Zac Efron.
“I think it’s all of those things, plus the nature of the community here itself,” says Helen Huntly-Barratt of First National Byron.
“There’s a real tolerance of everyone, whether you’re a Liberal, a hippy, a greenie, gay or straight. Everyone feels very comfortable in this environment.
“And you talk to people here and they might be worth $500 or $500,000 and you wouldn’t know the difference. It doesn’t matter.”
Whatever the reason for the pulling power, the strength of that allure isn’t in doubt.
In May this year, the unprecedented demand for homes in the northern rivers area pushed the Byron median house price up to smash the landmark $1 million barrier, and then further to eclipse even the price of homes in the state’s traditionally most expensive city, Sydney.
Now Byron’s median house price sits at an astonishing $1.55 million, up a thumping 34.8 per cent over the past year, and having more than doubled over the past five.
That’s nearly $51,000 more than Sydney’s median of $1,499,126, and over $512,000 more than Melbourne’s, on figures from the latest Domain House Price Report.
“There’s been continued price growth from the early 1980s but that was mostly from Sydneysiders and backpackers,” says Liam Annesley of the Byron Bay Real Estate Agency.
“Then Paul Hogan, John Cornell, Delvene Delaney and Olivia Newton-John put it on the map and brought the Packers here, who, in turn, brought their friends.
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