WHYALLA’S real estate market is set for a surge in activity sparked by businessman Sanjeev Gupta’s plan to inject $600 million into the mining town.
Whyalla mayor Clare McLaughlin said the announcement had been a long time coming and it was very positive for the community, both socially and economically. “If there’s a long-term future for the city, this is going to build confidence in the real estate sector,” she said.
It is anticipated that GFG Alliance’s construction of what will be one of the world’s biggest steel plants will lift the town’s population from 22,000 to about 80,000 by 2040.
Ms McLaughlin said the council looked forward to welcoming an influx of families.
“We want people to bring their families here to live and make Whyalla their home,” she said. “We’ve got a lot to offer … it’s a liveable city at present, but with the transformation, council and obviously GFG want to improve the liveability of the city.”
According to CoreLogic data, house values in the town have increased by 17.1 per cent over the past three months, and are up 16.3 per cent on this time last year.
Blights Real Estate Whyalla director Gregg Utting said the market was turning a corner and was presenting some great investment opportunities.
“Since Monday’s announcement, we’ve already seen an increase in calls and email inquiries from investors, whether they’re locals, Adelaide-based or interstaters,” Mr Utting said.
“Since the sale of the steelworks in September last year, the volumes of sales have come back quite significantly and I’m quite pleased with where they’re at and have been quite surprised by how quickly the volume has started to come back.
“Prices are still reasonably flat, but we’re seeing some properties selling for a little bit more than we thought they might have.”
Mr Utting said vacancy rates in the town’s rental market were also declining.
“In August 2016, there were 360 properties advertised for rent and right at the minute it’s about 100, so the rental market is getting really tight and rents are on the way back up, which means values will follow that trend as well,” he said.
“It’s really quite pleasing … it’s a good time to buy.”
Mr Utting said the town would need to change significantly to support a projected 80,000 residents by 2040.
“If our population ever reached that kind of numbers there would need to be a significant amount of capital investment,” Mr Utting said.
“At our absolute peak, which would have been in the late ‘70s, the population was about 35,000, and a population anywhere near 80,000 would require a significant capital investment in the city both from the public sector and the private sector.
“There is definitely space for that many.”