This is the first installment of three parts that will dissect the current property and rental market in the Mid-Western Region.
Regional living - it's what many dream of but with property prices at an all-time high, for some, owning a home will remain a fantasy.
With a pronounced boom in the Mid-Western region's market, many are left wondering who it is that's driving the demand - locals or out-of-towners?
While metropolitan residents appear to have an increased desire to say goodbye to the hustle and bustle of city life, for the most part, locals are tipping the heavy end of the purchasing scale.
"After 21 years of being an agent, I have never seen so much heat and energy in the market. Competition is very strong between buyers both local and those who are based out of the area," The Agency property partner, Damian Kearns said.
"In our experience, it's 70 per cent local buyers and 30 per cent out of town buyers," McGregor Real Estate director, Bruce McGregor said.
"Sure, there are a lot of enquiries from Sydney and other areas but there is still a very strong enquiry locally."
Greater Sydney, Central Coast, South Coast and Blue Mountains are typically where out-of-town purchasers are hailing from, according to The Property Shop director, Andrew Palmer and Ray White Mudgee director, Trent Robertson.
"The Greater Metropolitan area is certainly represented but they haven't got it their own way, local interest is certainly there and competing with them," Mr Palmer said.
"A lot of our buyers are coming from the Blue Mountains area. They're saying it's not what it was 20 years ago, it's too busy. Mudgee is an obvious choice for them," Mr Robertson added.
"They're coming here and buying a property but they are not living here full time, and I think that will continue."
While an increase in demand is a blessing for sellers, the competitive market is a hard pill to swallow for first home buyers who, according to local agents, are not as prevalent in the figures.
"Unfortunately, first home buyers have dropped off over the last 12 to 18 months and that's as a result of increased competition from investors," Mr Palmer said.
"First home buyers are a very difficult one. People are still buying houses, it's just they have to have the capital for the deposit," Mr McGregor added.
"Generally speaking, first home buyers are still operating in the market but most are probably getting support from family and friends to achieve the deposit that will get them in the door.
"Some of my sales have been around the nine hundred thousand dollar mark and they've been to first home buyers. They're not 19 or 20 year olds, they can be 25 or 26 and buying their first home," Mr Robertson added.
"Finance is definitely easier for people who already have a foot in the door."
Buyers are not the only ones feeling the pressure in the current market, but so too are renters, and it is expected to only get more competitive once the floodgates separating the city and country open.
"The market is tight and competition for properties is high. We often have many applications for one property, making it more difficult for people to find a suitable home straight away," Signature Properties Mudgee director, Edwina Smith said.
"People who live in the region are realising that rental prices are now starting to exceed median household incomes - the market is definitely booming.
"It will be interesting to see the impact when Greater Sydney comes out of lockdown. We are predicting Mudgee will receive another boom in both property rental and sale prices."
But why is the Mudgee region so desirable?
"It's a very attractive market place for people outside of the area. There's a lot of diversity in terms of our economy, it makes it an attractive place for people to move permanently or to invest," Mr Palmer said.
"The market has definitely boomed since we first opened our business in 2015 with median rental prices far higher than they once were. This has been driven by the increasing profile of the region as a mining and tourism destination, along with the growth in "regionalism" nationally," Mrs Smith added.
With work-from-home options now a popular choice for employers and employees alike, many are seeing the benefit of moving regionally, even if only for set periods of time.
"The real change has been people don't have to go into the CBD for work, they can live here for two or three weeks. They're still keeping their Sydney property as a principal place of residence and then coming here," Mr Robertson said.
"The market....has definitely surged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as remote working has increased and people opt to live regionally, rather than in metro areas," Mrs Smith said.
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