Geelong’s property boon from COVID crisis as city workers eye move to regional Victoria
More people will take working from home to the next level and move to regional cities like Geelong as coronavirus restrictions keep offices empty, a researcher says.
Plan1 co-founder Richard Jenkins said people had become accustomed to working from home as conditions for businesses were unlikely to return to pre-COVID normal for several years.
That would drive more to choose lifestyle ahead of proximity to work when deciding on the best place to live, he said.
Demographic data shows Geelong is already a leading destination for homebuyers, with a 2.8 per cent population annual growth rate the fastest among Australia’s 25 biggest cities.
Population growth was spread across all age groups, but in the past 10 years, more than 7700 Millennials had moved to Geelong for a more affordable lifestyle, he said.
“It’s all about thinking differently right now,” Mr Jenkins said.
“It’s been shown remote working can be done and people are saying if I can be in a regional area and be in the office only two days a week, I don’t have to fight that battle to get there.
“I don’t think employers will be able to have 100 per cent of their workplace that they did six months ago in the one office. Even if they want to, they can’t accommodate them.”
Last year, 56 per cent of new residents to Geelong came from greater Melbourne, he said.
That’s fuelled Geelong’s urban growth and given confidence to developers for apartment projects like Mercer and Miramar completed in 2019 on the waterfront, and Geelong Quarter — which includes a 4.5-star Holiday Inn hotel and a separate 11-storey Ryrie Home tower that will hold 109 apartments.
Construction on that project, at 44 Ryrie St, Geelong, is expected to start in late 2020.
Sweeteners including a $20,000 regional first-home buyers grant and $25,000 Home builder program have helped the market, while stamp duty is waived for first-time buyers in regional Victoria for homes valued under $600,000.
Geelong real estate agents have witnessed the upswing in Melbourne buyers.
“Since April it’s has been ever-increasing,” Hodges, Geelong West agent Marcus Falconer said.
“One of the positives to come out of the pandemic for the property market is that we are seeing a lot of people re-evaluate their lives and most are going to be able to work from home two to four days a week.
“Not only are they getting more time with their families and a better quality of life under the new arrangements, there is going to be some significant financial savings in moving.”
Geelong’s median house price of $596,000, is 20 per cent lower than Melbourne’s $750,000, based on Hometrack data.
Suburbs within a 5km ring of central Geelong is the hot zone, Mr Falconer said.
“Now you’ve got such great facilities out the southern side, with the train line all out the way to Waurn Ponds.”