STAWELL - The Stawell property market has been given a clean bill of health with vital market indicators pointing towards continued growth in 2014.
Terry Monaghan, from Monaghans Real Estate said the market had settled in January and February after what was an excellent finish to 2013.
"Stawell continues to stand out in the market, even against neighbouring towns, as an affordable option for investors to purchase in a well serviced, conveniently located, friendly, rural region with sound and diverse employment opportunities and where investors are rewarded with good rental returns," he said.
"We had an exceptional December and in fact January was our best ever.
"Between Christmas and New Year we had two walk-ins that bought houses, these were people who had looked elsewhere, but found what they wanted here."
The recent success is documented by the four-fold increase in dollar value of sales in January this year compared to January 2013. Sales in December 2013 were also more than double that of December 2012.
Mr Monaghan puts the strengthening of average prices and more people taking the step to purchase a home down to the fact last September's election result provided certainty.
"Something has happened to stop holding people back, and I think that has a lot to do with the uncertainty that is created by an election campaign," he said.
"I think there is also improved confidence from people in our town from sectors that have traditionally been pessimistic."
Landmark Harcourts Property Manager, Bruce McIlvride said he is experiencing continued investment from buyers with rental demand remaining exceptionally strong.
"We have plenty of activity in cropping country after what was a good season on the land, farmers are looking to invest and as a result we are selling well," he said.
"I see no reason why it shouldn't continue that way, we've had pretty good enquiry to start the year, from people in places including Geelong, Ballarat and Maryborough."
Mr McIlvride said the interest is spread across all price brackets but buyer demand continues to be driven by people eager for ready to move in liveable homes at $150,000 plus.
Landmark Harcourts' Benchmark report which documents 12 months of settled sales to August 2013, revealed the price paid per hectare (HA) for properties greater than 40 Ha in size rose by 3.7 percent.
"We're optimistic that both volume and value of sales across all segments will strengthen throughout 2014, particularly if interest rates remain stable and consumer confidence improves on the back of stronger local and global economies," Mr McIlvride said.
The report was initiated to provide an in depth analysis of all settled property sales trends across regional and rural Australia, and goes as far as categorising settled transactions into four segments - non-metro residential houses, under 4 Ha, 4 to 40 Ha, 40 Ha plus.
"We found that access to reliable data depicting sales trends across regional and rural Victoria was non existent - unlike metropolitan data which is relatively easy to source" Mr McIlvride said.
"The report allows us to benchmark our companies' performance against other agencies throughout the country and also acts as an essential tool for clients to make buying and selling decisions based on factual trends rather than anecdotal stories or gut feel."
Mr Monaghan believes that from a purchasers point of view there is still a good supply of properties in Stawell.
"A price bracket that is becoming scarce is the $180,000 - $220,000 price bracket, which you would consider to be more of your 'bread and butter' buyers," he said.
"People are always in search of better quality homes that don't need maintenance, that is something that is consistent each year."
Mr Monaghan has voiced his concerns about the transfer of water from Lake Lonsdale saying people need lifestyle options that are attractive beyond their backyard.
"We need to keep Lonsdale at 30 percent capacity, that is something vital to keeping people here and providing them with the recreational and lifestyle opportunities they need," he said.
Both Mr Monaghan and Mr McIlvride agree there will be a general pull back from the Grampians and Halls Gap bushfire scare, but only in the short term.
"There is the potential for a stall of enquiry, but there won't be a long term impact," Mr McIlvride said.
"The fact is people in this community maintain a positive outlook, they are self-supportive regardless of the businesses that come and go."