Australia’s biggest regional markets maintained their strong position as the top choice for many property buyers in Australia over the latter part of 2021 and the first month of 2022.

CoreLogic’s latest Regional Market Update, which tracks 25 non-capital city regions, showed that the median dwelling value across combined regions rose by 26.1% in January.

New South Wales’ Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven posted the highest yearly growth in median value for houses at 38.2%.

Meanwhile, Townsville in Queensland reported the biggest upside in terms of sales volume.

The market with the fastest turnover, however, was the Sunshine Coast — detached houses in this region only take 15 days before it gets sold.

In terms of units, Tasmania’s Launceston and North East registered the strongest median price growth of 22.9%. This region also posted the fastest selling time at 11 days.

Queensland’s Toowoomba, on the other hand, recorded a surge in unit sales at 147.7%.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said the trend of looking for more space outside capital cities has created a unique pattern between regional and capital city markets.

“Coming off the back of eased lockdown conditions across Sydney, Melbourne and the ACT, regional price growth instead accelerated toward the end of the year, while capital city dwelling price growth continued to slow,” Ms Owen said.

“This created an unusual divergence between the two markets, where price growth accelerated to 6.3% in regional Australia over the three months to January.”

Still, Ms Owen said regional housing markets are not immune from economic forces, which could potentially slow growth particularly in popular hot spots.

“Key drivers for performance in the regions will come down to higher interest rates and affordability constraints, the same headwinds capital city markets are facing,” she said.

“Regions have an additional factor to contend with and that is the possibility of a return to ‘normality’ and what that means for a potential refocus on cities.”

Ms Owen said there is still a possibility that many employers might consider a return to physical office space, which could encourage buyers to reconsider housing options closer to a capital city.

“This scenario seems less likely and more long-term than the arrival of the Omicron variant, which in many ways reinforced that this an ongoing health crisis and Australians prioritised their current housing needs to align with their desired lifestyle,” she said.

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