Positive Gearing Hotspots for 2014


After experiencing years of outstanding growth, house prices and rents in many resource towns have been ‘normalizing’ over the past 12 to 18 months due to softening mining investment.

As a result a number of these towns are now ideally positioned for a bounceback in 2014!

With renewed investor, mining and infrastructure confidence returning to the regions, many of these towns hit by the resource slow-down that was 2013 are now offering astute investors the opportunity to benefit from growth as they spring back into action in the new year.


Karratha recently made national headlines for experiencing a 30% reduction in median price from its peak in 2011. However this super-resource town’s house price correction is providing investors with an opportunity to access the market at its plateau ahead of expected upward trending in 2014 as the population continues to grow and absorb current supply.

Part of the WA government’s ‘Pilbara Cities’ initiative, Karratha’s population is expected to increase from its current 18,000 to 50,000 by 2035.  To support this increase, major investment into civil infrastructure is underway to redevelop and revitalise the town.  A $65 million phase 1 city centre upgrade is now almost complete with $110 million phase 2 works to start next year.

Most significantly, Karratha remains the service centre for Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project – Australia’s largest ever single resource natural gas project, currently 75% complete and with total capex estimated at around $50 billion.  

With the lifespan of Karratha’s other LNG project, Woodside’s Pluto (completed in 2012) estimated to be 40 years and Gorgon at least 40 years, these two projects alone will contribute to a constant demand for housing.

The Anketell port and strategic industrial area is another major project in the pipeline for Karratha which will further add to worker numbers. While there have been delays due to funding, the project was recently granted environmental approval and is critical to the development of three major Pilbara iron ore projects totaling $16 billion. These projects would bring in a combined construction workforce of 10,300 and operational workforce of 4,350.

For long term investors, a stable Karratha market with a more sustainable level of growth ahead of it is good news.  Yields remain exceptional at 9 -10% for quality new builds cementing Karratha as a top positive property town. 


South Hedland

Hedland in WA’s Pilbara region has undergone a price correction after a period of unsustainable growth.  For investors, it now presents an excellent opportunity to secure quality new stock at low prices as the town’s new mega project – port and rail infrastructure for the $10 billion Roy Hill iron ore mine – ramps ups. During construction, the workforce will peak at 3,600 people while the operational phase will require more than 2,000 personnel.

BHP and FMG, the town’s two other major players, have also indicated that further port expansion works will be required as iron ore exports continue to rise from the world’s largest bulk commodity exports port.

South Hedland is the main residential area and has been undergoing a major transformation in recent years as, like Karratha, the government strives to transform the town into a ‘City of the North’, supporting a population of 50,000 by 2035 – up from around 20,000 today. The town has already undergone a huge city centre redevelopment with significant civil works still in the pipeline.

The town is delivering investors yields well above average at 10 – 11% and capital growth is expected in the near term as ongoing industrial growth and the town’s increasing livability will continue to put pressure on housing.


Tom Price

This Pilbara iron ore town hasn’t garnered the same attention as the other towns in the region due to its inaccessibility for investors – until recently, there had been no land releases for 40 years. Following recent releases and new development, investors now have an opportunity to access this tightly held market.

Tom Price is integral to Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron ore operations, providing infrastructure and services to the company and its residentially based workforce.

The company’s newest mine, Hope Downs 4, has now become fully operational with the permanent workforce totaling 600, increasing pressure on the town’s role as Rio’s service centre.

Like all miners, Rio is in cost efficiency mode but is still pushing ahead with expansion plans to lift production to 360 million tonnes a year  – an increase of more than 50% of its existing capacity.  Currently, around $2 billion could be invested over five years, cementing demand for worker housing in Tom Price.

Despite the recent land release, housing supply remains very limited. According to a report by Regional Development Australia, Tom Price had a dwelling shortfall of 259 homes in 2012 and will require between 270 and 470 new homes by 2015 – well below current supply.  The town has historically low vacancy rates and high percentage of renters – 86% of Tom Price residents rent their home, with a majority of those leased by mining companies providing housing for their staff.

This projected undersupply confirms Tom Price as an exciting investment opportunity.



Despite the market downturn, Moranbah remains the strongest positive property town in Queensland’s Bowen Basin with 20 operational mines within 80km of the town along with one of Australia’s largest CSG projects. Rental yields have weathered the decline stabilizing at around 8% and the town’s strong historical growth patterns are expected to be repeated as it reaches the end of its current cycle. 

The major resource companies and government forge ahead with spending in excess of $13 billion and increasing the area’s current coal production from 100 million tonnes annually to a phenomenal 200 million tonnes per annum by 2020.

Three new coal projects are now under construction totaling more than $6 billion.  The construction workforce numbers for these projects total more than 2,400 and operational workers will total more than 900. 

A further three projects are undergoing expansion (total $1.25 billion) with expected construction and operational workforces of more than 1,000 and 300 respectively. And a massive 10 new projects worth $6 billion are in planning, indicating construction and operational workforces of more than 3,000 and 2,500 respectively.

The town’s growing workforce, and its limited land availability due to surrounding mining leases, is once again putting pressure on housing supply.

As these markets turn full cycle, investors are being presented with an opportune time to buy in low and maximise capital growth while benefitting from the ongoing positive cash flows that these towns consistently deliver.



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