Albury-Wodonga is in the midst of an unprecedented residential property boom with no obvious slowdown on the horizon as some industry leaders even predict present price levels will be a new normal.
Since COVID-19 began 12 months ago there have been a string of $1 million plus sales in Albury and across in Wodonga there have been two homes in the same street cracking the $1 million mark since Christmas and another sale for a luxurious home in West Wodonga hitting the $1.5 million mark after selling for just under $1 million three years ago.
Another home in McLeod Court has sold for $1.325 million since Christmas with other million dollar sales achieved in Swift and Roper streets in Albury and a luxurious property at Splitters Creek selling last year for $2.425 million.
In Wodonga, two homes in Corella Way have both achieved sales of more than $1 million this year.
The Border Mail understands the highest price paid for a residential property in Albury is more than $3 million and in Wodonga $1.7 million.
Geoff Stean from Stean Nicholls Real Estate said the common belief buyers from Melbourne fleeing coronavirus city-wide shutdowns were driving prices up was only one part of a much bigger story.
Historic low interest rates are another factor, but also prevalent in the Albury market were farmers reaching retirement age and cashing in on an equally strong rural property scene and young adults who grew up locally moving back for work and lifestyle reasons.
"I was told many years ago by developers out of Canberra and Sydney that when a regional area gets to about 130,000 people from within a 30-kilometre radius it goes up a gear," Mr Stean said.
"So when you look at that pull now from within a 100km radius there is a population of about 250,000 here and that was where Canberra was in the 1980s.
"We've hit that sweet spot.
"Historically we've seen these peaks in the market, but they were followed by a downturn.
"It's my opinion and others we've now gone into that third gear, so to speak, and the downturn is not going to happen this time around.
"This is real growth."
Mr Stean said the recently completed Hamilton apartment tower on the corner of Hume and David streets was highly sought-after from buyers with a rural background.
Wodonga Real Estate's Clinton Harvey began working in the industry in the late 1990s, the lead-up to the most recent peak in the early 2000s.
He said demand for property was out-stripping supply with COVID-19 playing a big part.
"In normal times there are around 100 owners per month in Albury-Wodonga putting their homes on the market," he said.
"If I think back to 2001-03 they were a bit slower coming on, but there was no reason for them not to come on.
"But what we've seen since March last year is instead of 100, we are only getting 80.
"So there are less owners putting their homes on the market because of uncertainty and because we had a bottleneck of people not buying last year, they are falling into this year and there are twice as many buyers out there for 80 houses."
Will Bonnici from First National Real Estate, Bonnici & Associates has sold properties on both sides of the border for more than $1 million since November last year.
He said last year he had eight offers on properties in excess of $1 million and has had three already in 2021.
"The properties in that price range are certainly coming up and the buyers are there," he said.
"I say for vendors it is a perfect storm.
"You've got low interest rates, high demand and that demand is coming from everywhere.
"A lot of people think it is all from Melbourne and Sydney, but it's not."
Mr Bonnici, who has been selling real estate on the border for 16 years, agreed with Mr Stean about the population of Albury-Wodonga being an important factor.
"Once it has ticked over to six figures, which it has, we start sustaining ourselves," he said.
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