Low vacancy rates and farmers wanting to guarantee accommodation for shearers has led to a higher than usual demand for property in Edenhope.
Edenhope has seen strong demand for property in the past six months, despite the South Australian and Victorian government putting borders in place.
Property lister REA Group has released the results of listings and inquiries on its website realestate.com.au, as part of a new report outlining the impact COVID-19 has had on population shifts to regional Australia.
It shows demand for houses for sale in Edenhope increased by 181 per cent in the six months to October compared to the six months to April, based on views per listing.
Harcourts real estate agent Chris Schirmer said while few houses came on the market in Edenhope, it had been a "crazy period" for sales recently.
"It normally does get busy at this time of year, but not to this level," he said.
"We are dealing mainly with locals: I think there's a lot of stir from people from South Australia that can't cross the border.
"The thought of Melburnians coming this way has caused a frenzy within the locals. We've been dealing with a lot of downsizers, and farmers wanting to put shearers in, that kind of thing.
"We've just had a few people that have realised there is low supply, and they know friends and family that want to rent in the town. But there is nothing to rent, so they're in a position where they can buy an investment property and put a family or colleague in. It's good to see the townspeople giving back to the town.
"We have also sold five 10-acre bush blocks in the last six months, and that's been from people looking for a destination to go camping or disappear to."
Data from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria suggests smaller regional towns are proving popular with potential buyers.
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The median house price for homes in the Yarriambiack Shire in the September quarter was $117,000, up 9.3 per cent compared to a year earlier. In the Northern Grampians, median prices are up 3.4 per cent - including 7.1 per cent in the last three months - and in the town of Ararat prices are up 9.5 per cent.
In Horsham, the REIV data suggests the median house price of $226,000 was down 7.8 per cent on the median this time last year.
The REA Group data suggests the Grampians region - which includes Horsham, Edenhope, Hopetoun and Ararat - saw the equal fourth highest growth in demand of anywhere in regional Victoria. The Maryborough-Pyrenees region has been the most popular in the past six months.
It also suggests Edenhope's median house price has jumped by 47 per cent in the past five years to reach $165,000. It is second only to Murtoa in growth over this timeframe.
Mr Schirmer said most of the houses being sold in the town were three bedrooms and one bathroom and in the $150,000 range.
"The stock will always be there because it's a small country town, it just goes in waves of how much is readily available at any one time," he said.
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"A few people are building at the moment, but there is probably some hesitation in the locals' minds: To do a build they would have to get someone to come from Naracoorte or Horsham because local tradies don't have the capacity or the time. So people will buy something and upgrade rather than build from scratch."
REA Group's chief economist Nerida Conisbee told the Mail-Times that to guarantee more housing options, regional areas needed to demonstrate to potential developers their investment would be viable.
"If the viability is marginal, then planning controls can sometimes be adjusted to assist," she said.
"Similarly, land costs can be problematic - in the case of building affordable housing, local and state governments will sometimes sell their holdings of land at a lower price but with the requirement that the houses developed do not exceed a certain price."
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