WA property market makes a comeback – is a sea change on its way?

Based on the ABS data which looked at rate of population growth across council areas of the country, Serpentine-Jarrahdale in Western Australia recorded the fastest growth at 6.8 per cent.

The region to record the second strongest increase in population was Camden in Sydney’s south-west with growth of 6.1 per cent over the year.perth-australia

Overall the ABS reported that the national population increased by 1.6 per cent over the 12 months to June 2014.

Across the individual states, the rate of population growth was fastest in: WA (2.2%), Vic (1.9%) and NSW and Qld (both 1.5%).

The rate of growth was much slower in SA (0.9%), Tas (0.3%), NT (1.0%) and ACT (1.2%).

Most of the areas listed as the fastest growing regions are close to capital cities and where large Greenfield regions exist, particularly around NSW, Vic and WA.

Outside of the metro areas there is an interesting trend  – a  strong rate of growth across south-west WA markets which can be characterised as both sea change and tree change areas.

Rockingham, Busselton, Capel, Waroona, Murray and Augusta- Margaret River are all lifestyle markets located south of Perth.

Each of these markets is amongst the 25 regions with the fastest rate of population growth over the past year.

Of the 25 fastest growing council areas, only Gladstone has recorded a fall in median prices over the year.

Generally a growing population will fuel housing demand and result in higher property prices, however, as the Gladstone example shows, a high rate of population growth is not necessarily guaranteed to increase prices.

Looking at the 25 council areas that have recorded the fastest rate of decline in population over the year, the most notable trend is that a majority are in regional WA.

council 1

This is despite the fact that WA was the state with the fastest rate of population growth over the past year.

council 2

Another immediately noticeable factor is just how small the populations of all of these regions.

These small population council regions are suffering from both a brain drain where younger age groups are moving away as well as the fact that larger regional centres act as a sponge, drawing residents away from the small population bases towards areas with more services and availability of amenity.

Despite most regions being small in population, there are some interesting areas on the list.

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Most notably the region with the largest fall, Derby-West Kimberley, which is a mining region in far north WA.

The population of the region has dropped by -5.4% over the year. While the population has dropped, so too has the median house price which is -22.0% lower.

The only other regions of substantial size on the list are Cook in Qld and West Coast in Tas.

Nationally, the rate of population growth is slowing and looks set to continue to slow over the coming year with the rate of overseas migration continuing to moderate.

A large discrepancy is emerging between the rate of population growth in capital cities and regional areas, again something which is likely to continue.

It will be interesting to watch the trend towards stronger population growth in lifestyle regions like south-west WA and to also note if over the coming years this trend is replicated in other sea-change and tree-change areas.



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Cameron Kusher is Corelogic RP Data’s senior research analyst. Cameron has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals such as demographics, trends & economics. Visit

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