A town with a rich gold rush history and booming book festival has been dubbed Victoria’s top spot to score a property bargain with growth prospects.
Savvy buyers on a budget should target Clunes, about 35km north of Ballarat, according to RiskWise Property Research.
It said the town’s median house price had skyrocketed 54 per cent in five years — and 29 per cent in the past year alone.
But it remained affordable at $352,786, and had plenty of growth left in the tank.
RELATED: Ballarat among regional Victorian spots notching crazy price growth
Victoria’s regional markets to star in 2019
Top Victorian sea and tree change destinations
Geelong suburbs Norlane and Lovely Banks were also listed in the RiskWise research as being “expected to continue to enjoy good capital growth” following 26 per cent annual bursts to $370,931 and $455,868 medians respectively.
RiskWise chief executive Doron Peleg said securing a bargain didn’t just mean buying a cheap home, but was more about “knowing where to buy for long-term capital gain”.
Clunes and District Real Estate owner and director Colette Fulham said the typical three-bedroom, one-bathroom house in her town was about $200,000 cheaper than in nearby Daylesford.
But Clunes was “catching up”, notching dramatic price gains over the past year.
Ms Fulham expected the growth to continue, but said price wasn’t the main drawcard for the buyers pouring in from Victoria’s capital anyway.
“What you’re getting for your money in Clunes is extremely good value. But people are moving here for a lifestyle change,” she said.
She said the town was culturally rich, boasting a gold rush history dating back to 1850, a picturesque period streetscape, and the Booktown Festival, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors in its 13th year this May.
There’s also a Wesley College campus and a V/Line train service directly to Melbourne.
Yvette Kiwi-Stratas and her husband George sold their Clyde North house, moved on to 1.8ha in Clunes before Christmas and haven’t looked back.
“(Melbourne) is so congested, it gets to you after a while. I fell in love with Clunes straight away,” she said.
“Melbourne’s not far away — my husband still works in the city.”
Cherie Bridges moved to Hepburn Shire from the city about 30 years ago, and has run the Time Travellers antique shop on Clunes’ main street since 2012.
“I was really swept up by the rustic charm and village feel,” she said.
“A lot of tourists visit from all over Australia, but there’s still a strong sense of community.”
Ms Bridges and husband Mark Payne are now selling the preserved 1860s property at 33 Fraser St with a $430,000-$450,000 price guide, and the option to continue running the successful business or convert part of it into a home.
Nearby Ballarat was one of Victoria’s top property markets of 2018, with suburbs Wendouree and Golden Point notably notching house price gains of more than 20 per cent, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.
The Geelong suburbs had benefited from high population growth, a rise in infrastructure projects, an improved economy and more jobs, Mr Peleg said.
MORE: Where to buy: The Geelong suburbs named the nation’s top spots to score a bargain
Investor eyes return to Geelong’s capital growth as regulator lifts cap on interest-only home loans
Tasmanian city Victorian house hunters’ new interstate favourite
VICTORIA’S TOP BARGAIN TOWNS AND SUBURBS
Clunes: $352,786 median house price, 29% annual capital growth, 54% five-year capital growth
Norlane: $370,931, 26%, 74%
Lovely Banks: $455,868, 26%, 51%
Source: RiskWise Property Research, CoreLogic