Hunter’s a happy median

Hunter hot spots.Where the million dollar houses areStockton joins pricey property clubNEWCASTLE real estate prices have been getting a lot of attention lately, and with good reason.

Data issued this week reveals that regional areas are the new lands of opportunity for buyers and theHunter is booming.

It has been one of the best performing non-capital city areasin Australiafor the year to May according to property information group CoreLogic, and predictionsare for continued steady growth.

Price rises were recorded across the Lower Hunter, with the best performing local government area being the Great Lakes, which had amedian house pricejumpof $55,296, or 13.1 per cent, to $477,404.

Great Lakes also recorded the largest percentageprice gains in median unit prices, jumping 9.7 per cent to $365,172.

Lake Macquarie and Newcastlelocal government areasboth had 10.1 per cent median house price increases.

Newcastle tops the price list with a jump of $52,577 to $573,146, followed by Lake Macquarie increasing$49,618 to$540,893.

CoreLogic senior research analyst Cameron Kusher said many Sydney residentswere using equity in their homes to purchase investment properties in lifestyle markets.

He said the Lower Hunter was ideally placed to benefit due to its proximity to Sydney and the coast.

“The data indicates that after a long period of soft housing market conditions following the financial crisis, housing demand is starting to pick up across many of the larger regional areas,” he said.

“Those areas that are continuing to see values fall are in many instances linked to the mining and resources sector.”

In a report last week, BIS Oxford Economics predictedcontinued growth for the region, as capital citypropertymarkets weaken.

Prices are tipped to continue growing in the Lower Hunter, butexperts warn the biggest price gains are behind us and the market is tipped to cool.

The Lower Hunter’s median house price was $560,000 at June 1, ajump of36 per cent in the past four years.

Median house prices in the regionwere expected to increase about11 per cent in the year to June.

Real Estate Institute Newcastle Hunter divisional chairman Wayne Stewart said the Lower Hunter could expect price gains of about 6 per cent this financial year.