Byron Bay is an influencer’s wet dream. With its cafes, bars, beautiful coastline and even more beautiful celebrities, it’s almost as if Instagram HQ designed the town themselves. Yet, it was once a sleepy surfer town, like many others on Australia’s east coast. And in 2021, Byron Bay has become a new hot spot for the elite.
If you need any more proof of Byron’s transformation, the region recently hurdled Sydney to become Australia’s most expensive housing market, after prices nearly doubled in one year. According to realestate.com.au, the median house price in Byron Bay last year was about $1.42 million but has since skyrocketed to $2.7 million, doubling the second fastest growing regional market of Finley near the Victorian border.
As for the NSW state capital, the median price in Sydney is currently $1.2 million. However, parts of the city, such as the lower north shore and the eastern suburbs, remain more expensive.
Realestate.com.au director of economic research Cameron Kusher said Byron Bay has evolved in recent years. “It’s certainly not what it used to be,” he said. “It was always a little, sleepy town that was slow paced … now you basically have to be a fairly senior person in business to afford it.”
Or a celebrity, it seems. Part of Byron’s ballooning prices has stemmed from the convergence of Hollywood superstars. This includes the likes of Zac Efron, the Hemsworth brothers, and Matt Damon, among others, who have purchased multimillion-dollar homes in the area. Due to the pandemic, Byron became increasingly popular for the rich and famous, with many of the rich and famous deciding to set up camp during the Covid outbreak.
Mr Kusher said there was a growing trend of wealthy buyers hiking up prices in many other “lifestyle” markets, such as Coffs Harbour. “People with high wealth are attracted to very nice coastal markets,” he said. “For some people (high prices) would be an attraction.”
Some other thriving regional NSW housing markets, measured by the annual change in the ratio of buyers to listings, included Renwick, a new suburb near Mittagong in the Southern Highlands, and Pokolbin in the Hunter wine region.