A third of Australia’s regional beachside markets maintain peak values amid economic challenges

Property Pulse, Research News   •   25 Jan 2024

Just over one third (35%) of Australia’s regional coastal markets recorded housing values at record highs at the end of last year despite multiple rate rises, cost of living pressures and market uncertainty, CoreLogic figures reveal.

A thorough examination of Australia’s regional coastal suburbs to the end of 2023, unveiled a diverse spectrum of property performances, highlighting the substantial variations between markets nationally.

The study, which analysed 368 coastal markets, at least 50km from the nearest capital city CBD, found the beachside suburbs of outer metro Perth recorded the largest gains in value in 2023.

Western Australia dominated the list of top coastal suburbs with the highest annual capital gains, claiming more than half of the top 20 spots. Mandurah had six suburbs, Perth’s South West and Bunbury each had three.

“The divergence between cities and regions was a defining trend of 2023 and coastal regions were no exception to the increasing gap between top and bottom performers,” CoreLogic Research Director Tim Lawless said.

“Markets that witnessed significant value growth last year were the beneficiaries of affordability challenges in other regions. Buyers who found better value in regional areas of Western Australia and Queensland not only bought into the upswing, but will have contributed to the resilience of these top performing spots.”

The top 20 highest growth coastal markets

Every suburb on the top 20 list of highest growth markets last year all had a median value well under $1 million, with Mulambin the most expensive on that list with a median dwelling value of $822,553 followed by Rosslyn $760,981 on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast, about 530km north of Brisbane.

“The performance of those with the largest gains and the highest growth rates are not the glamorous hot spots that rose to prominence during COVID,” Mr Lawless said.

“The past 12 months has seen markets that offer a combination of value and lifestyle attributes, such as commuting distance to a major city, great beaches, and quality housing at a more affordable price point, outperform more well-known areas.

“Suburbs in areas such as Western Australia and more northern regions of Queensland where it’s still possible to make a sea change for less than $1 million were the strongest performers last year. Although home values in these regions are mostly at record highs, they remain relatively affordable for sea changers selling out of more expensive metro markets.”

Highest annual capital gains – National top 20 regional coastal suburbs

SuburbSA4StateMedian dwelling valueChange in value 12 monthsChange in value cyclical peak to Dec 23
BouvardMandurahWA$560,13828.0%<at peak>
AugustaBunburyWA$717,57323.2%<at peak>
San RemoMandurahWA$678,94022.9%<at peak>
Halls HeadMandurahWA$694,47322.8%<at peak>
Secret HarbourPerth – South WestWA$699,46922.4%<at peak>
Golden BayPerth – South WestWA$613,26522.2%<at peak>
MulambinCentral QueenslandQLD$822,55322.1%<at peak>
UsherBunburyWA$418,78021.3%<at peak>
Silver SandsMandurahWA$592,35521.1%<at peak>
SingletonPerth – South WestWA$657,63220.4%<at peak>
Port VincentBarossa – Yorke – Mid NorthSA$402,16920.1%-0.8%
WithersBunburyWA$352,20819.7%<at peak>
RosslynCentral QueenslandQLD$760,98119.6%<at peak>
Madora BayMandurahWA$652,74519.3%<at peak>
Green HeadWestern Australia – Outback (South)WA$397,79418.8%<at peak>
WannanupMandurahWA$691,94918.5%<at peak>
Moonta BayBarossa – Yorke – Mid NorthSA$490,65118.3%-1.5%
KingscoteSouth Australia – South EastSA$432,90117.8%-0.7%
CowellSouth Australia – OutbackSA$282,99817.5%-3.2%
LabradorGold CoastQLD$651,66617.1%<at peak>

Ocean Shores records the largest drop in value

The Richmond Valley in Northern NSW recorded the largest drops in value, relative to their COVID peak after many suburbs around Byron Bay recorded a spectacular increase in values during the worst of the pandemic.

“Arguably these markets overshot the mark of what could be considered fair value through the worst of the pandemic, with increases in value of more than 60% in some areas. It’s also likely severe weather events in early 2022 played a role in the recent weakness,” he said.

Ocean Shores, Byron Bay, Suffolk Park, Lennox Head and Brunswick Heads – all in the Richmond Valley – were the top five suburbs where values have fallen most significantly since peaking in April 2022. However, median dwelling values remain more than $1 million in each of these suburbs and are still substantially higher relative to pre-COVID levels.

One in three coastal markets still at record high

Of the 368 suburbs analysed, 35% had values at a peak in December 2023 while an additional 8.7% of markets recorded a modest fall in value of less than 1%.

Queensland’s Wide Bay-Burnett region, the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, dominated the top spots on the largest gains list since the onset of COVID, with values increasing up to 82.5% in some cases.

Nine of the top ten best performing coastal suburbs between March 2020 and December 2023 were located in the major centres of Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Gympie-Cooloola and Maryborough, with values generally rising from a relatively low base.

Largest drop in value relative to peak – National top 10 regional coastal suburbs

SuburbMedian dwelling valueChange in value Mar 20 to Dec 23Change in value
cyclical peak to Dec 23
Change in value
12 months
Peak date$ change since March 2020
Ocean Shores$1,201,17529.1%-25.2%-2.4%Apr 22-$405,381
Byron Bay$1,939,53134.0%-24.1%-8.1%Apr 22-$614,364
Suffolk Park$1,875,76441.0%-23.7%-6.7%Apr 22-$581,371
Lennox Head$1,349,25439.7%-23.2%-3.1%Apr 22-$406,567
Brunswick Heads$1,114,50127.9%-22.3%-4.0%Apr 22-$320,615
Culburra Beach$929,89541.4%-19.6%-4.6%Jun 22-$226,650
Berry$1,540,24344.0%-18.8%-7.7%Mar 22-$356,354
Dalmeny$770,39541.8%-18.5%-11.9%Jun 22-$175,438
Lorne (VIC)$1,366,24114.3%-18.3%-9.3%Mar 22-$305,771
Evans Head$886,33339.4%-18.0%4.5%Apr 22-$194,925

Most expensive coastal markets

The prestigious Victorian coastal villages of Portsea, Flinders and Sorrento on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula dominated the top three most expensive coastal suburbs. Other regions well represented in the top 20 list include Queensland’s Sunshine Coast with four suburbs, Richmond Tweed with three suburbs and Geelong and Illawarra, each with three suburbs.

Portsea has a median dwelling value of $3.03 million, ahead of Flinders at $2.33 million and Sorrento at $2.05 million. Between March 2020 and their cyclical peak, Portsea values shot up 65.3%, Sorrento increased 69.8% and Flinders lifted 63.7%.

“Melbournians fled to the Mornington Peninsula during the pandemic, if they could afford to, and the increase in activity and a lack of stock pushed up values significantly,” he said.

“Now internal migration from cities to regions is normalising, there’s less competition among buyers who also have the benefit of more listings and therefore the power to negotiate on asking prices.”

Hidden gems and buying opportunities

Outside of the mining and port regions, which tend to be less expensive, Mr Lawless said there were some ‘hidden gems’ which would be good news for those looking for affordable coastal housing or priced out during the pandemic.

“South Australia’s Ceduna is a prime example with a median dwelling value of just $245,275. It’s considered to be the oyster capital of Australia, has a regional airport and is close to major working nodes at the ports and various other industries,” he said.

“Wongaling Beach, a popular tourist spot on Queensland’s Cassowary Coast between North Mission Beach and South Mission Beach, is another good example with a median dwelling value of $295,632 and great white sandy beaches.”

Largest % gain since COVID – National top 10 regional coastal suburbs

SuburbSA4StateMedian dwelling valueChange in value Mar 20 to Dec 23
Moore Park BeachWide BayQLD$623,16882.5%
Elliott HeadsWide BayQLD$692,86781.9%
WoodgateWide BayQLD$755,63679.1%
Burnett HeadsWide BayQLD$597,84078.4%
BooralWide BayQLD$774,82077.8%
Coral CoveWide BayQLD$697,17975.8%
Innes ParkWide BayQLD$714,59675.3%
Burrum HeadsWide BayQLD$746,34575.1%
BargaraWide BayQLD$722,67474.8%

Most expensive – National top 10 regional coastal suburbs

SuburbSA4StateMedian dwelling valuePeak date$ change in value from market peak to Dec 23% change in value from market peak to Dec 23
PortseaMornington PeninsulaVIC$3,035,259May 22-$343,993-10.2%
FlindersMornington PeninsulaVIC$2,337,815Nov 21-$232,633-9.1%
SorrentoMornington PeninsulaVIC$2,050,613May 22-$295,187-12.6%
Byron BayRichmond – TweedNSW$1,939,531Apr 22-$614,364-24.1%
AustinmerIllawarraNSW$1,886,491Mar 22-$168,654-8.2%
Suffolk ParkRichmond – TweedNSW$1,875,764Apr 22-$581,371-23.7%
CasuarinaRichmond – TweedNSW$1,875,289Mar 22-$274,654-12.8%
Noosa HeadsSunshine CoastQLD$1,828,592May 22-$131,439-6.7%
Aireys InletGeelongVIC$1,817,382Apr 22-$242,113-11.8%
Sunshine BeachSunshine CoastQLD$1,752,875Mar 22-$144,948-7.6%

Most affordable – National top 10 regional coastal suburbs

SuburbSA4StateChange in value 12 monthsMedian dwelling value
Port Pirie WestBarossa – Yorke – Mid NorthSA11.5%$187,602
CedunaSouth Australia – OutbackSA7.2%$254,275
WhyallaSouth Australia – OutbackSA12.6%$258,688
BeachlandsWestern Australia – Outback (South)WA-3.8%$277,007
Barney PointCentral QueenslandQLD0.3%$277,712
CowellSouth Australia – OutbackSA17.5%$282,998
GeraldtonWestern Australia – Outback (South)WA-1.1%$285,196
Wongaling BeachCairnsQLD11.6%$295,632
BeresfordWestern Australia – Outback (South)WA-0.5%$300,856
Forrest BeachTownsvilleQLD12.1%$304,385