Horsham property market booming; smaller towns struggling

HORSHAM'S property market is booming - but smaller Wimmera towns are struggling.

PRDnationwide Wes Davidson Real Estate managing director Wes Davidson said Horsham's real estate market had been at its busiest in the past six weeks.

He said houses often sold without being advertised, and auctions saw many bidders.

"The past six weeks have seen one of the highest volume of sales I've ever seen,'' he said.

"One of the major factors has been the interest rate.''

Mr Davidson said the interest rate was about five per cent and the average return from an investment property was six or seven per cent.

He said it was the first time he could recall such a return.

Investment interest from the Wimmera, across Australia and from overseas had also influenced the property market.

Mr Davidson said rental vacancies were low, creating a good market for Horsham.

He expected Horsham's strong market to last.

Gerry Smith First National Real Estate managing director Gerry Smith echoed the good news for Horsham.

"Anecdotally I'd say it's 10 to 15 per cent up from the previous year,'' he said.

Mr Smith said low interest rates and confidence in the rural sector were big factors.

But the news is not quite so rosy outside Horsham.

The Victorian Valuer-General's annual market overview showed the Wimmera had eight of the 10 towns in country Victoria with the lowest median house sale prices in 2013.

Rainbow topped the list, with a median house sale price of $64,500, followed by Minyip at $73,500 and Kaniva at $75,000.

Hopetoun, Jeparit, Dimboola, Murtoa and Warracknabeal also made the list.

Mr Davidson said there was no surprise in the data.

"The smaller regional centres struggle to keep up to the prices of the larger regional centres,'' he said.

"It can be quite distressing for the people in these towns.

Victorian Valuer-General Robert Marsh's report showed Edenhope recorded the largest increase from 2012-2013 in country Victoria, up 51 per cent from $106,000 to $160,000.

But Mr Smith said smaller towns could experience skewed data because of fewer sales.

"You can have one large sale that can distort the numbers,'' he said.

"The statistics might in fact be a couple of exceptional sales.''

Mr Marsh's report also showed Halls Gap's housing prices dropped 21 per cent from $233,500 to $184,500 from 2012 to 2013.

Mr Davidson said tourism areas such as Halls Gap did not often reflect trends.

He said fires, landslips and other environmental issues could have turned people off buying in the town, but he suspected otherwise.

"I think it's not Halls Gap itself, but house prices are going up in larger city centres,'' he said.

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