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æInvestors shouldn’t totally dismiss the area... as it does have some
potential, and could prove to benefit those who choose to speculate
on industry boosts to the region.Æ
Investors interested in George Town, in Tasmania’s north,
should keep watch as its potential could change overnight.
George Town, a large town situated
on the Tamar River in northern
Tasmania, appears to have an
affordable housing market offering
investors respectable returns.
Australian Property Monitors’ figures
current to the end of the first quarter this
year show the town’s median house price
is $130,000 and its gross rental yield is 5.5
per cent. But does this mean it’s a good
spot for investors to park their dollars?
Not necessarily, according to the experts.
George Town had excellent prospects
when a very large pulp mill was proposed
for the area back in 2006. It was expected
to bring greater economic activity, and of
The project, proposed by Gunns Limited,
was to be situated in the Bell Bay Major
Industrial Zone, south of George Town,
and was touted as being the largest-
ever investment by the private sector in
Tasmania and the largest-ever investment
within Australia’s forestry sector.
It now seems, however, that the pulp
mill is unlikely to go ahead. Not only were
the Tasmanian people divided on its
merits due to environmental concerns, but
the project then failed to go ahead due to
its economic viability.
Gunns entered receivership in 2013 and
while the mill and its permits could still
be sold, the project is deemed unlikely
Mark Kerschbaum of Propell National
Valuers says confidence in George Town
has largely dissipated as a result of the
current status of the pulp mill project and
consequently, investors should be wary
of buying in to the area. He says it has
a history of diminishing values due to
low demand from buyers in line with the
closing of nearby industry, hence why
property prices seem so affordable.
But investors shouldn’t totally dismiss
the area, says Kerschbaum, as it does
have some potential, and could prove to
benefit those who choose to speculate on
industry boosts to the region.
“Keep an eye out for any changes to the
area,” he says. “It could easily become
one of the highest performing suburbs in
Tasmania or Australia but it all depends
on the fragile balance of industry injection
to the area.
“I f this were to change, overnight the
demand would increase immensely,
returning excellent yields to investors.
The market could easily rebound and
become a very high performing area if
the local area had another industry boost
or kickstart. ”
Historically George Town has been
an industrial town that grew to cater
for the hub of Bell Bay and that’s where
employment has come from since the
1950s. Daron Gumley of Aqua Property
says it’s now transcended that industrial
bias with new residents moving to the
area seeking the relaxed Tasmanian
lifestyle, coupled with affordability.
Industry may still be a driver of growth,
notes Gumley, with a return to forestry
in the area and the State Government
looking at all avenues to utilise the
port facilities at Bell Bay, as well as a
multimillion-dollar aquaculture project
being on the horizon. But he says the
town is now somewhat of a holiday
destination, especially the suburb of Low
Head, situated in the north.
“T his area caters for the holiday
market with its beaches and maritime
historic precinct,” he says. “Properties
here are tightly held and land is in very
With industry less of a focus in George
Town, which has a population of around
4000 as at the 2011 Census, Kerschbaum
says the major drawcard for investors is
its potential growth due to its proximity
to Tasmania’s second largest city of
Launceston, situated around 45 kilometres
south and accessed via the recently
upgraded East Tamar Highway.
Launceston certainly provides more
services and amenities for those living
in George Town, although the town itself
has adequate infrastructure, including
schools, medical services, sporting
facilities, shops and restaurants.
According to Gumley, government
support services are being enhanced,
with construction under way on a
federally-funded hub to the tune of $5 to
Rob Zubin of My Property Hunter
believes George Town will suit some
investors, but not others, noting the lower
buy-in price with potential for higher
returns in the area comes at a risk.
“ T here is potential for growth over the
long term – say, 10 years – as the economy
picks up and more industry establishes at
Bell Bay,” he says.
Zubin adds that while there’s now doubt
over the pulp mill project, if it was to get
off the ground, he says it would provide a
“boon” for the area and economy.
At the moment, however, he says
that while property in George Town is
affordable, it’s currently high risk due to
the volatile nature of the market with the
area experiencing economic challenges
and higher unemployment.
“ If you’re able to secure a good tenant,
you may achieve around $190 per week in
rent, which is around a 7.6 per cent gross
return,” he says. “ However, the area is
experiencing an increasing vacancy rate,
which currently sits at around six to seven
According to Gumley, there’s very good
upside in ensuing years in George Town.
Demand will increase over the next 12
months due to prices having dropped and
affordability having improved. API
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