Wagga is continuing to provide affordable housing options compared to Australia’s capital cities, however there are concerns for its long-term viability.
According to the 2018 Fitzpatricks property report, there is an imbalance between the supply and demand of land available.
There has been a large decrease in the number of vacant land sales in Wagga at a 20.2 per cent volume decrease, equating to a drop of 62 lots.
The report said it was important for council to address the constraints restricting supply of land otherwise Wagga will “witness serious upward pressure and price”, affecting housing affordability.
Wagga City Council strategy manager Tristan Kell said council recognises that Wagga has the potential to grow to 100,000 people by 2036.
“One of council’s priorities is developing new growth strategies which will pave the way for additional land release and addressing legacy issues, including backlog in infrastructure and poor urban outcomes,” Mr Kell said.
“These strategies are currently underway and will ensure future land releases provide housing choice, livability and appropriate infrastructure.
“Council is currently working with landowners and developers to pave the way for greenfield development to ensure that affordable house and land packages are available for new residents within the region.”
Wagga’s median house price between July 2017 and June 2018 was $354,500, compared to Sydney’s $1.14 million average house price.
Local builders are “screaming for more land” to keep up with housing demands as Wagga’s population is set to increase.
Local builder Wayne Carter said with Wagga being nominated as a growth city, expecting to reach a population of 100,000, there is an “urgency” for Wagga City Council to rezone more land.
“We’re building about 370 homes a year and with our population expected to increase by another 35,000 people to hit the growth target, we’ll need to be building 600 homes a year,” Mr Carter said.
“We’re flat-out already and there’s urgency for more land; we don’t need it tomorrow, we needed it yesterday.
“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do and with no land it will hurt us financially and economically.”
The last financial year saw 245 residential blocks sold in Wagga, but there was a 7.4 per cent increase to the median land price at $145,000.
Mr Carter said a lack of land would not only affect future housing affordability but also the economy at large.
“There’s enough land to probably satisfy the immediate need, but not enough for the future needs and we need council to rezone land so we’re ready for more people,” Mr Carter said.
“The demand is not only outstripping supply, Wagga is landlocked and there’s not enough areas available for new development.
The hot-spots include Estella Rise and Boorooma which are running into the university and the highway and no service to land north-west of Wagga.
“Builders rely on the building of homes, there’s also suppliers, and those employed by suppliers and motor vehicles; it will affect many people and developers will look elsewhere for business,” he said.
Wagga’s northern suburbs are providing the bulk of land sold, with Boorooma at the top with 74 sales.
Wagga-based valuer Chris Egan said Wagga City Council were not releasing land quick enough.
“Bourkelands is all done and builders are screaming for more land but council has not released land quick enough,” he said.
“We saw this with Estella Rise subdivisions where 90 per cent sold in just three days.”
Wagga saw large growth in the volume of unit sales in the last financial year, according to Fitzpatricks annual property data.
There was a total of 192 unit sales in Wagga between 2017 to 2018, 31 more units than previous years, which represents an increase of 19.25 per cent.
Wagga builder Wayne Carter is not surprised by these figures and said units are more affordable and require less maintenance.
Similarly, local builder Matt Jenkins said units appeal to investors as well as first home buyers.
“If you’re a first home buyer, the unit market is a great stepping stone, as they’re about $100,000 cheaper than a house,” Mr Jenkins said.
“They’re liked by investors because they have a high yield of return, the occupancy rates are quite reasonable to high and therefore the ability to rent out a new unit is fairly easy.”