Crookwell is experiencing an unprecedented surge in residential real estate development, with agents reporting multiple sales within subdivisions still proceeding through the planning process.
With a population of 3100 people, Crookwell rarely sees buyers scrambling for land on which to build a new home. But towards the end of last year much of the buying centred on a new subdivision within the town’s limits – ‘Brooklands’.
The NSW Valuer General land valuations in January reported residential values for the Upper Lachlan Shire increased 21.6 per cent, and properties with future subdivision potential experienced a very strong increase in value.
Within the next few months the release of Brooklands stage five, comprising about 50 blocks from 1000 to 2100 square metres, will test the impact of interest rate rises this year.
Buyers are coming from Sydney, Canberra, the South Coast and Goulburn and include builders, investors and people planning to retire in Crookwell.
Agent Allan McDonald from Pro Rural Agencies said 69 lots in a previous stage of the Brooklands subdivision sold within six months. Fully serviced and ranging from 1000 to 1500 square metres, they sold over a range from $200,000 to $270,000.
Mr McDonald has been listing properties in Crookwell since 1990 but has never seen the market as hot as it was at the end of 2022. He previously sold a 66-lot subdivision off the Laggan Road over four or five years for different stages, but the speed of last year’s sales was unprecedented.
“We have not had that sort of inquiry level to that extent (at the end of 2022) before and certainly haven’t now,” he said. “It was just at that point I guess where interest rates were still relatively low and there was really nothing around for sale.
“The benefit is obviously price, but you have got to have a reason for being here,” Mr McDonald said. “There is not a lot of work in Crookwell or surrounds so it’s more retirement or investment. You do get some people here working from home,” he said.
At Gunning last year, which is about an hour in travelling time closer to Canberra compared to Crookwell, a subdivision began selling at $200,000 a block and within 12 months the price had risen to $300,000.
“That was the catalyst to push here (in Crookwell),” Mr McDonald said. “Goulburn had gone up to $400,000 for a block. That pushed people here that were investors or builders or anyone looking to turnover a house and land. I think the last block sold up there (in Crookwell) for $330,000 for a 1500-square metre block which had double street frontage.”
Mr McDonald said the market had been red-hot before the Reserve Bank began raising interest rates, but since then prices had not fallen away much, but properties were taking longer to sell.
MD and JJ Anderson agent Bronwyn Haynes said newcomers were impressed with having a local hospital with an upgraded emergency department and choice of doctors and visiting specialists. “Goulburn Base Hospital is only half an hour from Crookwell and the ACT medical community is approximately one hour away,” she said.
“Our business has enquiries coming from across NSW and the ACT and these are mainly from retirees wishing to relocate from the larger metropolitan areas,” Ms Haynes said. “We have also had families with school-aged children enquire, but mainly looking at the outlying areas around Crookwell like Laggan, Grabben Gullen and the Binda area.”
Ms Haynes said work from home options were limited because of poor communications and internet coverage in the villages and rural areas. “You don’t have to travel far from Crookwell before you find the internet coverage is non-existent,” she said.
“Crookwell doesn’t offer much large industry employment like factory employment but does have regular positions with the larger local businesses like Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Virbac, Uniting Aged Care, the IGA and with our other smaller business throughout the area. Crookwell’s Uniting Care operates an aged care facility and another located in one of the shire’s villages at Taralga.”
Duncombe & Co agent Robyn Duncombe sold a new home and two recently-built ones for about $800,000 each at the end of last year. “One sold even before it hit the market, the other one within a fortnight of listing, the other one within three weeks,” she said. The buyers were from Sydney, Nowra and the Crookwell area, who had a young family.”