Northern NSW motel sales signal return of 'pre-pandemic demand' for the region - ResortBrokers

16 Sep 2020
Words Sean Slatter The Hotel Conversation

Northern NSW motel sales signal return of 'pre-pandemic demand' for the region - ResortBrokers

Separate freehold sales totalling $7 million at Yamba and South Ballina across the past three weeks are part of "rapidly increasing" levels of enquiry for the region from accommodation operators, according to Greg James and Steve Campbell of ResortBrokers.

The northern New South Wales region has emerged as Australia’s hotspot for motel and caravan park purchases with agency ResortBrokers reporting a higher level of activity despite the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

In the past three weeks, there has been $7 million in separate freehold sales at Yamba and South Ballina, with the Yamba Sun Motel and Ballina Beach Village caravan park both changing hands for more than $3 million.

ResortBrokers agent Greg James, who negotiated the Yamba Sun Motel sale with Steve Campbell, said the transaction signalled something of a return to pre-pandemic demand for motels in the region as experienced accommodation operators actively targeted acquisitions in the area.

At a glance:

  • ResortBrokers has reported increased demand for motels and caravans in the northern NSW region.
  • In the past three weeks, the agency has negotiated the sale of Yamba Sun Motel and Ballina Beach Village Caravan Park for a combined total of $7 million. 
  • According to Tourism Research Australia, in the space of five years from March 2014 to March 2019, international visitors, nights and expenditure in the northern New South Wales region rose by 36.7 per cent, 38.2 per cent and 70.1 per cent, respectively.

“We are getting the ‘sea and tree changers’ from Sydney and Melbourne looking for that combination of a solid business with a guaranteed income with a great lifestyle, but really all types of people are enquiring,” he said.

“These include serious investors and syndicates who are looking at the numbers visiting the area, both pre and post COVID, as well as the potential real estate value in years to come."

The Yamba Sun Motel was bought by brothers, Rob and Dave Salce, who have previously built and renovated unit blocks, given Rob is a plasterer by trade, while Dave is a plumber.

Rob said they were motivated to take the plunge into the motel industry due to a combination of the area’s natural beauty and the fact that it’s becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourists.

“Having grown up on the Gold Coast we always travelled to Byron Bay and other northern NSW coastal towns and loved it,” he said.

“Family and friends always say Yamba is beautiful and relaxing, so we went there and loved the vibe of the town and then heard about this opportunity,” he said.

“We were seeing the towns getting busier and busier until the borders were shut because of COVID-19 in March and then again in early August.

"So, it’s not great for business but the people of NSW have come out and travelled around their own state which has been great."

In its latest survey results for the year to March 2020, Tourism Research Australia reports a 15.9 per cent rise year on year to 15.3 million domestic and international visitors who spent $5.2 billion which was an increase of 14.4 per cent on the previous year. 

Rob Salce said the statistics indicate the trend of rapidly growing demand for northern NSW accommodation properties pre-pandemic.

“We are praying for the borders to open again ASAP because a lot of people also travel down to Yamba from the Gold Coast and Brisbane," he said.

“So, once everything is open again, we feel coastal towns like Yamba will be back to normal if not busier than before with international travel not an option.”

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