Geraldton Real Estate update

Latest numbers from REIWA show the Geraldton-Greenough region experienced strong sales numbers for the final quarter of 2017. 

Once sold properties for the quarter have settled, it seems total house sales for the region will be close to 135 with a median price of approximately $300,000. This would represent an appreciation of 1.7% in the median house prices over the previous quarter and a massive 57% rise in sales activity.

House listings have increased by 7.4% against the previous quarter and are 3.6% higher than the same time last year.

The average time to sell a house has remained constant at 101 days.

Western Australia's population was estimated at 2.58 million people, which is up 0.8% from 2016. Geraldton’s population in 2017 was recorded as 38,289, which was a decrease of 1% from 2016.

In residential rentals for the local region news is positive. It is reported that 285 total properties of houses and units leased over the quarter, which is an increase of 11.3% from the September quarter.

However the overall median weekly rent in the area came in at $265 per week, which is $8 lower than the September quarter.

Our thanks to REIWA and Geraldton Property Team for the information. 

Cautious Optimism about Geraldton's future

I'm quite positive with respect to the economic stability of Geraldton long term, and can personally attest to Geraldton being one of the best places in the country to live if you're looking for a great balance of lifestyle, affordability, and beauty. 

I'm not bullish because I am sure there are going to me thousands of high paying jobs in 5 years though. I'm positive because Geraldton has a fundamental handful of things that make it great. There's enough jobs if you have the right skill set or are willing to undertake training or education. There's few better places in terms of beaches and a wonderful outdoor lifestyle. And you don't need to be a multi millionaire to live near the beach, like you would in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth. 

Yet as a media publication, it's very challenging to publish anything that questions a bullish narrative around Geraldton's economic prospects. 

The bulk of our advertisers are both business and property owners, and they, as you expect, have a natural desire to see a positive story about Geraldton's economic future be the constant narrative. 

But the last decade plus of unquestioned positivity has lead to lots of members of the public being left holding investments that are now worth far less than they paid. I personally know people who owe far more on their homes than what they could reasonable be expected to sell them for today. 

Sure, it's not the first time real estate prices have fallen in Gero, but the fact that many of these purchases were made under an irresponsible narrative painted by those in various levels of Government, and indeed, us in the media, is a problem. Why are there more and more empty shops around Geraldton each month? Why has the population dropped so much in the last 3 years? Why are we still building new shopping centres in the midst of this? Why did the federal government incentivise massive amounts of development and new homes built when landlords struggled to even find tenants for existing properties?

Rewind to 2006. Property prices around WA were booming, in large part due to the insatiable demand for WA's iron ore from China. And of course there was the O word.

Oakajee. Word on the street was that the Oakajee Port, north of Geraldton, was going to go ahead, and when it did, you could expect basically a repeat of what happened in Karratha and Port Hedland, where people were paying over $2000 per week to rent a shack, and they had to hand over the marriage rights to the eldest daughter. 

I earnestly jumped into the property market during this heady time, paying ABOVE asking price for a fibro home in Rangeway. It felt great when I discovered my home had increased in value by at least 50 grand within a few months too. I knew it was in part because of economic fundamentals I had no control over, but I couldn't help patting myself on the back for being so smart and buying when I did. 

During this same period in 2006, way before I ever decided to launch Everything Geraldton, I realised it was super hard to get any local news online. So I built a small website where I posted any news content about Geraldton I could find. Literally no-one but I used it, but it led me to become quite engrossed in what was happening with respect to Oakajee.

Essentially, a Chinese backed mob thought they had the rights to build the port. They planned on actually doing it too. They had money lined up, but right when they were about to press the big green button, McTiernan and Labor in their infinite wisdom, decided the agreement that the original mob had was too old, and now we should open the process up to tender. 

That decision added at least a year of dicking around to the Oakajee process, and in the end, the Japanese backed competitors won the tender. 

Except they never built it. During the time of all the fluffing around, the costs of labour (people working, not the political party) went through the roof, and the effects of the US economic disaster was starting to be felt around the world. I remember there was a week there where you literally couldn't get a bank loan, everyone's super was frozen, and all of a sudden it became super unlikely Oakajee was still viable. 

But the hype around Oakajee didn't die just yet. In fact, there was an "Iron Ore Alliance" that had formed in the Mid West that had produced a publication that prophesied Geraldton's population was going to hit between 75,000 and 100,000. I scratched my head at how a bunch of pencil pushers came up with these numbers. 

I read through everything I could about Oakajee. The entire port was going to ship about 45 million tonnes a year, maaaaybe 60 million in a stretch. 

"60 million?" I exclaimed one day. "That's nothing."

Up north, BHP and Rio would ADD a 300 million tonne port before breakfast. And here we are thinking a 60 million tonne port is going to make us all property millionaires?

Not going to happen.

Meanwhile, the City of Geraldton was hiking rates like they were in the rate raising olympics. Property, all of a sudden, didn't seem like such a great investment. 

Nationally syndicated writers, economists and property "gurus" boldly kept predicting Geraldton was the next "boom town", and that it was a "gateway" to the North West and to the Mid West. 

Oakajee Port was not built. 

Fast forward a few years. 

I remember attending a rates meeting briefing with the CGG a few years ago, where they presented rates predictions over the next decade. I raised my hand with a question. 

"You're predicting in those charts that the Geraldton population is going to hit 75,000. Where are you getting those numbers?"

It seemed to me an important question. Here we are budgeting for the future based on an assumption that Geraldton is going to spike in population within a foreseeable timeline. Based on what I knew about Geraldton's economy, what was coming to town, and the downturn globally in commodities, I couldn't see why 40,000 people were going to decide to move to Gero all of a sudden. 

I was told the numbers were from different "official sources". 

There was no explanation about how those official sources made their predictions, but if reading Nassim Taleb has taught me anything, I was right to be skeptical. 

As you know, the exact opposite happened. Geraldton's population declined in the following few years. 

Now, to Alannah McTiernan's credit, she DID try and calm the mindless hype about Geraldton down a little. "Cautious optimism" was what she publicly called for at an economic forum in Geraldton. She was a little drowned out by others predicting untold riches who thought China had a special money printing machine that never turned off. 

But perhaps her message was the narrative we should have adopted all along. 

"Cautious optimism." 

Invest only after doing your own due diligence.

Don't borrow more than you can afford to repay because you don't know if you'll be able to sell this asset later. 

Maybe Oakajee Port will get built, maybe it won't. But even if it IS built, it will only employ a couple of hundred people when it's finished. 

Maybe the investors who are saying China's economy is grossly overheated are correct, and we're going to see a very, very painful economic collapse from our largest customer. 

Cautious optimism. 

Now I don't write this brief overview to say "I told you so"... because I didn't tell anyone so. If the banks would have given me more money, I'd own 7 units in Rangeway right now wondering why God hated me so much by allowing me to make such a decision. 

At best I was a bit skeptical.

And hey, maybe history could have gone differently. Maybe the US never allows stupid loans to be written to people who couldn't afford them and we don't have the GFC. Maybe Oakajee Port gets built AND the surrounding land gets developed into a thriving industrial precinct.

Maybe that pile of land near the airport sitting dormant the City of Geraldton tried to turn into a technology park gets bought by Amazon and we have a thriving little tech community employing developers and software engineers.

But those things didn't happen. And instead, those "gurus" who made the heady predictions about Geraldton's growth lost no money. They're off doing other things, making money predicting the future somewhere else. They had no skin in the game, but we listened to them because they told us what we wanted to hear. 

The people who paid the price are those who didn't possess the ability to dig below the surface, and made investment decisions that they now regret. 

I realise that all of us in business want to see positive economic sentiment that will help raise the tide of all our boats. 

But lets make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of the last decade. Let's ignore the instinct to only listen to economic predictions that we WANT to be true. 

And let's dispense with the hype. 

I don't need hype. I need facts. 

Update: Correction around who had rights to originally build port. 

Geraldton may have to pay back $9 million to the federal government

9 million dollars to be returned to federal government

"Financial Millstones"

As I scanned Hansard earlier this week (as one does) I noticed a mention of $9 million that the federal government is requesting back from the City of Greater Geraldton for funding of a particular project. (Hansard is the formal record of what was spoken in parliament.)

Another $9 million bill when funds are already tight, staff have been cut, and services reduced, would not be great news for the people of Geraldton. 

You'll notice the reference to Royalties for Regions projects now being "financial millstones". Millstones are quite handy when you're running a mill, but we think Blayney is using the term in the biblical "millstone around your neck" context.

We haven't had confirmation of which project is being referred to, but... 

A quick search reveals that $9 million is the exact amount granted to the City of Greater Geraldton for the Karloo-Wandina project, which was meant to produce 800 affordable blocks of land, as well as the construction of Verita Road and the accompanying bridge. The grant came from the "Building Better Regional Cities" program created under the Gillard government back in 2010. 

The project has been beset by cost blow outs, with the original figure to be contributed by ratepayers expected to be around 4 or 5 million, but that seems to have grown somewhat higher. (In last year's budget, $18 million was allocated to finalise the project.) Money also came from Royalties for Regions and other government departments for the project.

The project also turned out to be a major ongoing financial burden to the people of Geraldton. This is a statement from Mark Atkinson, who was the Manager of Infrastructure Planning & Design with the City of Greater Geraldton:

"Whilst higher levels of government have provided the majority of the upfront capital, this represents only about 20% of the whole of life costs of the asset. The CGG will ultimately inherit the ongoing maintenance of the road infrastructure and will now need to budget for in the order of an additional $1M/year for depreciation if it intends to maintain the same level of service."

The purpose of the Building Better Regional Cities grants was to increase the number of homes for sale and rent that were affordable for working families on ordinary incomes, in communities that are experiencing positive jobs and population growth that need more homes to be built. The program was largely unsuccessful and poorly run according to an audit in 2014, resulting in projections that the program would be lucky to result in helping 2000 homes be built across Australia, instead of the original goal of 15,000.

According to the 2014 audit done on the project, Geraldton suffered the most delays of any of the BBRC projects, with the expected completion being 30 June 2017. The BBRC projects were originally given until the deadline of 30 June 2016 to complete their residential works. 

The BBRC program stated in the funding agreement that is it a "performance-based, legally enforceable agreement between the Australian Government and the Successful Applicant."

Interestingly, according to an article from Darcy Hay of the Geraldton Guardian in 2013, Ian Blayney and Shane Van Styn were at odds with each other over the project, with Van Styn, who was at the time a National Party candidate and is now Geraldton's Mayor, strongly supporting the project, but MLA Ian Blayney, (our state government representative in the Legislative Assembly) opposed to the project. (link). Comments on the Facebook post embedded below are worth a read too (or click here).

We have emailed the City of Greater Geraldton for comment, and to confirm for which project the federal government is asking the funds be returned. 

Update: 5:00pm - CGG CEO Ken Diehm has sent a response. Click here to read.

14 seriously good value properties in Geraldton at the moment

If you want to get into the property market either as a home owner or an investor, there are some screaming bargains to be had in Geraldton at the moment. You can find "handy man dreams" for around $100,000 and there's plenty of family sized homes to browse. 

Here's a few we found that seem worth investigating. 

Click on any of the photos for more info. 

Might be worth calling a mortgage broker to see what you can borrow. You can reach The Mortgage Gallery on 9964 4770 or click here.

1. Affordable in Cape Burney


20 Mersey Drive, Cape Burney

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom
Tenanted at $320 per week. 

Click here for more info.

2. 4 beds under 400 in Wandina


5 Intombi Rise, Wandina

4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms
"The seller is motivated to sell at the asking price and will consider offers."

Click here for more info.

3. Cheap in Beachlands


14 Whitfield Street, Beachlands

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom
Current rental return $250 per week.

Click here for more info.

4. Just out of town bargain


7 Tuart Avenue, Nabawa

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom
42km's out of town. Extra quiet. 

Click here for more info. 

5. 4 bedrooms central under 400


35 Ainsworth St, Geraldton

4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms
"The perfect outdoor entertaining deck"

Click here for more info.

6. Under 300 in Wandina


2A Conch Rise, Wandina

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom
Air conditioning

Click here for more info.

7. Good price for Beresford


43 Mark Street Beresford

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom
Short walk to the beach

Click here for more info.

8. Super close to the beach


12A/323-325 Willcock Drive, Tarcoola Beach

3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms
Really nice home really close to the water

Click here for more info.

9. As cheap as they come


8 Felicia Street, Rangeway

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom

Click here for more info.

10. 25 acres in Greenough


34379 Brand Highway Greenough

3 bedroom 1 bathroom
Trees, shed, space to move

Click here for more info.

11. Deepdale for mid 400's

$430,000 - $460,000

9 Roding Court, Deepdale

4 bedrooms 3 bathrooms
2.47 acres

Click here for more info.

12. Large block in Strathalbyn


5 Begonia Court, Strathalbyn

4 bedrooms 1 bathroom
6 x 6 shed

Click here for more info.

13. Tarcoola Beach bargain


22 Seacrest Street, Tarcoola Beach

3 bedrooms 1 bathroom
Great suburb

Click here for more info. 

14. Near new 5 x 2


19 Glenview Street, Mount Tarcoola

5 bedrooms 2 bathrooms
Air con, solar, security

Click here for more info.

3 things Geraldton needs to change with its parking

First, I'll start by saying there's no parking crisis in Geraldton. It's seriously not hard to find a parking bay in town, the rates are relatively reasonable where there is paid parking, and there's also a good amount of free parking a majority of the time. The car park next to Maccas is usually nearly empty, and even when I ran a lawn mowing business and had a trailer attached to my ute I was usually able to park within walking distance of Woolworths, the Post Office or the banks. 

If you want a bay right out the front of every shop you're ever going to visit, your demands are unreasonable and you should stop reading this right now. 

But there are a few things Geraldton could do differently or better to help make visiting the CBD a little more enjoyable and a little less stressful.  

1. Two Hours of parking is not enough.  

This picture was taken in Mandurah. Because of the extra time we had (in the angled bay) we spent more time browsing and shopping. 

This picture was taken in Mandurah. Because of the extra time we had (in the angled bay) we spent more time browsing and shopping. 

Most of the free bays in Geraldton's CBD have a limit of 2 hours. Consider this scenario:  

You're heading to meet Jenny for coffee. You decided to meet at the Jaffle Shack at 10am and you get there 15 minutes early at 9:45. She gets there 15 minutes late though, so by the time you've both ordered and sipping on your coffee it's 10:25. You chat for 45 minutes and both head off. It's now 11:10. You walk down to the Post Office to send that letter to Grandma who still doesn't have email or Facebook. You have to queue to buy stamps, so by the time that errand is over it's 11:30. You walk around to Woolies to grab some supplies you needed for the weekend gathering you have planned. You're starting to feel a little more than peckish, so you think to yourself where you might stop for lunch, maybe GoHealth, maybe a Kebab. You glance at your phone to check the time. It's 11:55. CRAP. You've been parked too long. Any decision you make now increases your chance of getting a $75 parking fine. You remember the last parking fine you got a few months ago. "STUFF THAT" you think to yourself. You head home and make a sandwich. 

Every day businesses in Geraldton miss out on lots of trade because people rush to get out of their bays before the two hours is up. You can't grab lunch and a movie in two hours. You can't browse for new clothes, window shop the jewellers, get your hair done, and enjoy a dine in lunch in two hours. You can't take the kids to the foreshore playground, then take them out for lunch in two hours. 

If you want to attract people in to the city, encourage them to stay there and spend money, then don't put a ridiculous two hour limit on the parking. Mandurah has four hours along their shop riddled foreshore and board walk. I think we should take a leaf out of the book from one of the more successful tourist destinations in WA and increase the time limit in the free bays. It may seem like a good idea making people rush back to their cars allowing others to park. But those "others" would have just parked a little further away, and also could have enjoyed a less rushed shopping experience.  

2. Angled parking everywhere

This picture was taken recently in Geraldton. It's not staged. And it's not a joke. Someone actually parked like this. And worse, it's not a rare sight.  

This picture was taken recently in Geraldton. It's not staged. And it's not a joke. Someone actually parked like this. And worse, it's not a rare sight.  

There's two kinds of parking bays; angled bays and stupid bays.  

I mean seriously, how much nicer is it to park in front of the post office in those angled bays than the perpendicular ones that were there before? (Shoutout to Brian Taylor)

It's safer, it's quicker, it's easier. There's virtually no downside to angled parking.

Perhaps in some circumstances it may mean a couple of less bays. But have you looked around in Geraldton at the non angled bays? A lot of the time someone has parked in two bays anyway because they lack the ability to parallel park or aim their car. So angled parking would make it easier for the incompetent drivers (of which we have so many) and we would all win because they wouldn't be taking up one and a half bays all the time. 

Oh, and don't get me started on people trying to parallel park in Geraldton. I'm pretty sure 90% of you don't even know you're meant to drive in front of the bay and then reverse in. Every day I see people take the parralel parking bay head first, having to drive up on to the footpath, and then back in to the bay. It's a joke to watch. I really don't know how we all passed our driving tests.  

And whevenever someone DOES try to parallel park correctly, the person behind them has no idea what they're doing and drives right up their butt, leaving them no room to back into the bay. It would be funny to watch if it wasn't so sad, and didn't happen so often.  

Also, the town planners didn't take into account the high percentage of us that own 4x4s. Parralel parking might be a nice idea in Paris where everyone drives Vespas and Fiats the size of toasters. But in the home of the Landcruiser, parking needs to be rethought. Heck, even parents who do school runs drive 200 series landies. And even the most competent drivers of these cars usually takes one look at the parallel parking bays in town and just keeps driving.  

If the mall was angled parking, I can tell you most people would be less stressed parking there. 

The only people that would be negatively affected by switching to angled parking everywhere would be panel beaters.  

3. First hour free in all the paid spots (at least)

I was a participant in the recent community summit, and like 90 odd percent of the people there I voted to keep paid parking because of the income it brings in, helping other useful services that lose money to exist... like libraries and CCTV. 

But my vote to keep paid parking wasn't an implicit acceptance that paying for parking is always a good idea. 

The world isn't as black and white as many accountants would like us to think. On paper it looks like paid parking generates revenue for the city. But the hidden cost is ... hidden. It's hard to quantify the cost of people who simply won't pay for parking, thus won't stay in town longer than two hours, thus won't spend much money at retailers in town. It's hard to say if that cost to the Geraldton economy is greater than the net gain from the scrap of money the parking generates. I'm not saying it is or isn't greater either way (I haven't done any studies), just that it's hard to quantify.  

Many people view paying to park like paying for bottled water. "It's water. It falls from the sky! Why would I pay you $3.95 for a 600 mL bottle of the stuff?! You're crazy?!"  

Same with parking spaces. "It's a SPACE. There's nothing there! It's not a building! It's a nothing! I'm not paying for parking!"  

To them it would be like Dome charging people for sitting in their chairs. Even if they sold the coffee for $1 and the chair for $3, people would just resent the idea of paying to sit in a chair. Does the chair cost Dome money? Sure does, probably more than the coffee beans and water they heated up and sold you. But they have to build the cost of the chair into the coffee or you'd resent them.  

It's the same with parking. I know it costs money in the form of opportunity costs to keep valuable land free for parking. But if the cost of the parking was built into the price of other things, people would park in town more, stay longer and spend more money at local shops. They'd spend a lot more than the $6 you'd get if you charged for parking. 

Now the city may be wondering how on earth that would ever make THEIR books look good. Sure, it would benefit all the businesses in town. But the only way the council would see a dime of that is if they were able to charge higher rates.  

But here's the thing. If the CBD was thriving, more stores would be built, more premises would exist which would pay rates, and the value of those businesses would be higher too, also affecting the amount of rates charged. 

So while it may look good just to charge more for parking and have more money, in the long term I would argue it hurts commerce and ends up hurting rate revenue for the city too. Encouraging growth in town and getting people in there shopping should be a higher priority.

If paid parking made economic sense, then all the shopping centres would charge for parking. But they don't. Why? Because they know the $5 they got for parking would be nothing compared to the massive amount of money they'd lose from everyone who stopped shopping there. You do pay for the parking indirectly. It's factored into the rent that the tenant stores get charged, thus it's factored into anything you buy from a shopping centre. But if you had to pay that $5 parking cost directly, you wouldn't.  

I say first hour free at least because I understand if you made all parking free everywhere all the time, you'd simply get workers at all the shops taking all the good bays first thing in the morning. They're not spending money all day, and it would achieve the opposite of what you wanted.  


So I'd like to see the paid parking bays converted to at least some free time, so more people are encouraged to duck in to town and do what they need to do. And if they want to stay all day they can pay a small, reasonable fee. And the free bays should (mostly) be lengthened to four hours, long enough to encourage you to spend more time and money in town, but not so long that staff at all the stores take up those bays all day long. 

In conclusion

These opinions I have shared should not be taken without consideration of the first paragraph. I really don't think there's a parking crisis. Walking 7 minutes to get to the shop you want shouldn't be the end of the world, and I don't think a multi story car park needs to be built (though Everything Geraldton often gets calls for this). Parking in Gero is definitely a "first world problem" if it is one at all, but in this time of economic downturn where some businesses are doing it tough, it would be good to look at ways to make it easier for tourists and locals alike to be encouraged to frequent our wonderful CBD and foreshore and spend money here rather than online/overseas. 

One other argument I often here about there being no need to stimulate spending here is that "you only have $x each week, so it doesn't matter." This argument to me is ridiculous. When I have the choice to buy something locally or online, I would much rather get it locally because I want it now and don't want to wait. If it's too hard to get to the store, or the store won't open during hours that are convenient to me, or if the item doesn't exist locally, maybe then I will buy it online.  So the amount of money I have to spend locally is very much a variable thing. And the more I spend locally > the more profitable local businesses are > the more jobs are created locally > the more money other people are able to spend locally > and the cycle of growth continues.  

Planned parking changes

Making it as convenient as possible for people to keep their money spent locally through things like better parking policies should be a priority.  Any thought of adding parking meters or making parking more inhibitive in the city limits would be a bad idea at the moment. 

It appears there are changes on the horizon for parking in Geraldton, but we're unclear about what they might be. 

We've heard through the MWCCI about an upcoming forum on parking. We reached out to the City for information and they sent us the following: 

You are invited to attend a forum on City Centre Car Parking 

Date: Monday 4 May 2015

Time: 5:30pm
Location: City of Greater Geraldton, Cathedral Avenue – Function Room 
The items for discussion with a short brief on each as follows:

• Planned carparking provision changes relevant to CBD development as part of the new TP Scheme being drafted

• The City carparking strategy – items implemented and those planned in the medium term

• Advice on whether on-street car parking meters or charging is being contemplated by the City;

• Q & A session



We have been advised that the parking forum at the City of Greater Geraldton is not open to the general public, only members of the Mid West Chamber of Commerce.  

Regional Art Fellowships – Applications Open in Durack

Outstanding regional artists and arts workers in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Midwest and Northern Wheatbelt are invited to apply for up to $30,000 to develop professional skills and experience in the broader arts landscape, said Melissa Price, the Federal Member for Durack

This is an chance for regional artists to work in other regions, cities or overseas with experienced artists and I encourage local artists and arts workers to consider applying,” Ms Price said.

“There is so much artistic talent in Durack, and we lead artistic development in many ways that I’d hope we manage to be successful in applying for these great fellowships.”

The Australian Government announced funding for five Regional Artist Development Fellowships in October last year, to support professional regional artists and promote a vibrant, creative life in Australia’s regions.  The five fellowships are:

  • The International creative development fellowship ($30,000) open to regional artists to support a placement or experience outside Australia to develop creative practice.
  • The Indigenous creative development fellowship ($20,000) open to Indigenous regional artists to support a placement or experience outside their region (including international, metropolitan or other regions) to develop creative practice.
  • The Young artist creative development fellowship ($15,000) for regional artists aged between 18 and 26 to support a placement or experience outside their region (including international, metropolitan or other regions) to develop creative practice or support their career path.
  • The Institutional fellowship and Indigenous institutional fellowship ($30,000 each) will each support a placement for a regional artist or arts worker at an Australian arts institution. The placement could include formal training, mentoring with institutional leaders or a work placement.

“These fellowships will help overcome barriers that our regional artists encounter compared to city-based artists in accessing opportunities to develop their arts practice on a professional level,” Ms Price said.

“These fellowships will provide artists and arts workers with new and valuable experiences that not only support their career but also deliver long-term benefits to the cultural life of their communities.”

Regional Artist Development Fellowships are administered by Regional Arts Australia. For more information visit close at midnight on Friday 17 April 2015.

Batavia Motor Inne might finally get finished

The City of Greater Geraldton has issued a new building permit for construction to start once again on the Batavia Motor Inne site that has been left derelict for more than five years. The original building permit lapsed in December 2013 due to lack of progress on site and an intent to issue a demolition notice was issued by the City.

The owners have been working through the outstanding issues with their project team and this time utilised a private certifier/fire engineer over the past six months to come up with a compliant Certified Building application.

City CEO, Ken Diehm, said the building permit has been tied to the construction timetable.

“The building permit has been conditioned to ensure that construction is continuous and timely,” he said.

“Work stalled towards the beginning of last year and was to resume in February this year but it didn’t happen. Enough is enough.

“Council has had enough of derelict buildings in the City, and if the conditions of this permit are not adhered to, or work stops without a valid reason, the City still has the option to issue a demolition order,” said Mr Diehm.

He said he expects the proponent to apply for incentives as part of the CBD Revitalisation Program adopted by Council in May 2014 to drive desirable redevelopment in the CBD, which could see a periodic rates exemption.

“If the proponent seeks concessions under the CBD Revitalisation Strategy they would be the second company to do so, and would mean the incentives program could prove an effective tool to revitalise our City,” said Mr Diehm.

Work is expected to start in the next two weeks and the anticipated completion date of the 78 room accommodation and function centre is May/June 2015.

Herald Build Pty Ltd is the company undertaking the refurbishment and a nominated building supervisor will manage the project, with a local foreman based permanently on site.

Would you live in Moresby Heights, Geraldton's proposed new suburb?

Screenshot 2014-06-22 23.15.47 If you didn't unwrap The Midwest Times when it landed on your driveway on Feb 20 and read the public notices section, you might have missed the advertisement about a proposed new development known as Moresby Heights.

This Tuesday it will be put to a vote by council, after public submissions closed back on March 21.

The proposed new development will be located 10km north east of the Geraldton CBD, 4km from the coast, at the foot of the Moresby Range. It could home approx 4000 - 5000 people, about the population of Carnarvon.

The structure plan put to the city by the developers says:

The structure plan proposes development of the site for predominantly residential purposes, supported by a neighbourhood centre, primary school and public open space. It also proposes areas of regional and district open space, in support of the City of Greater Geraldton’s planning strategies and requirements, and a tourism node at the top of the Moresby Range scarp.

The city staff are recommending to council to approve the proposal, despite several objections from nearby landholders.

Some of the feedback included:

  • Destroy rural setting and current amenity of the area.
  • Increased traffic, noise and light.
  • Suitable land elsewhere in Geraldton for subdivision.
  • Should be connected to sewerage scheme.
  • Development is too dense.
  • Impacts on visual landscape amenity.
  • Well thought out and environmentally sensitive plan.
  • Tourist site should be served by a road from the east not up the escarpment.
  • Subdivision at a higher density than that recommended by the Moresby Range Management Plan.
  • Tourism sites could set a precedent for future development in areas of high visibility.
  • Loss of native fauna.
  • The adjacent Waggrakine Rural Residential area cannot subdivide to this level and these developers will be unfairly favoured by being able to subdivide the land into suburban sized blocks.
  • Allow only 2 – 4 ha lots.

Click here to read all the feedback submissions in full, and responses from the CGG.

One of the consistent themes within the submissions to council regarding the development is that there simply isn't the demand in the region to warrant more property coming on to the market; other developments remain undersold, many properties sit on the market for a long time before selling, and many similar properties are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars below what they were 7 years ago.

Acknowledging the depressed state of the market, the city says the land may remain "as is" for some time; that is to say, even if approved, the land may remain undeveloped for quite some time until the demand warrants the investment.

But given the CGG council have a plan to make Geraldton suitable for 80,000 to 100,000 people, they believe "forward planning for the site should be progressed to enable the timely release of land" in the future. "The cost of developing the site largely falls to the developer, not the City."

The plan has been in the works for some time. It was presented to Councillors back in May 2011.

The people behind the new suburb development include Paul Dossiter, Site Construction Manager at CSI Phill's Creek; V Neil; Seventh Wave Enterprises Pty Ltd which is owned by Ashley Newton, Christopher Newton and Dana Newton. Other stakeholders are also named in the LOCAL STRUCTURE PLAN by CLE Town Planning and Design 

Moresby Heights

From the Tuesday's agenda documentation again:

The site is surrounded by Rural Residential developments to the south and west, which are subject to the Waggrakine Rural Residential Structure Plan. Land to the north and east is zoned ‘Rural’ and is subject to low intensity agricultural use.

The development of the site for urban purposes will require treatment of these areas to provide a transition in intensity of development. This has been addressed through the provision of rural residential and larger residential lots and / or open space around the periphery of the development.

The development will essentially represent an expansion of the Geraldton urban area to its north-easterly limits. Its separation from existing urban areas by the Waggrakine Rural Residential area will give it something of a ‘village’ character; however its proximity to Geraldton means that it will effectively form a suburb of the city.

The proposed Local Structure Plan provides for development of the site to accommodate:

  • 79 ha of ‘regional’ open space, protecting the Moresby Range;
  • A neighbourhood commercial centre and abutting Primary School, roughly in the centre of the site;
  • Urban residential neighbourhoods both north and south of the neighbourhood centre, with potential for higher density in close proximity to the centre;
  • Low density and Rural Residential around the periphery of the residential neighbourhoods, providing for a diversity of lot types and a graduation in density from adjoining rural residential and rural areas;
  • An integrated network of parkland throughout the development, protecting areas of environmental significance, providing for integrated urban water management, and providing for local recreation and amenity to service the subdivision;
  • 33 ha of District Open Space, provided in a linear spine through the development to link to the Moresby Range, and in a consolidated 14 ha block in the west of the site, to provide for District Recreation;
  • Two potential tourism facilities, including one on the Range Tops, where a low profile development could be designed to nestle in behind the Range ‘edge’ where it would be visually unobtrusive, but could benefit from the magnificent ocean views this location affords. In addition to accommodation, the site might also accommodate a cafe or restaurant, or possibly even a small tavern which would provide an attraction to the local Geraldton community as well as more distant visitors. The second, lower site appears more suited to eco-chalets or similar self-contained, low intensity accommodation.


Geraldton set to grow as Padbury announce "Oakajee Funding Secured"

Padbury Mining announced this morning that they have secured 100% of the funding needed to build the Oakajee deepwater port and rail. The Oakajee Port and Rail project is expected to cost approximately $6 billion to build.

The money is coming from Australian private equity investors, a big surprise as many expected the Chinese to foot the bill.

With the limited space around the Geraldton port, and the fact that it cannot accommodate larger ships, Iron Ore miners in the Mid West have been wanting a longer term solution for some time.

A dedicated rail network will be built to connect mines in the Mid West to the new port.

Perhaps most exciting beyond the building of the port and rail, is the potential development of the land surrounding the Port as an industrial estate.

Around 15 years ago the state government purchased large amounts of farming land in Oakajee with the intention of developing it into a value adding industrial estate, conveniently located next to the deepwater Oakajee port and away from the more densely populated Geraldton. The land has been sitting dormant since that time, with tenants who rent the homes scattered about the area forbidden from using the land to grow crops.

The story of the non-event that the Oakajee Port has been to date is a long and frustrating tale for those who have wanted to see it built. But today's announcement puts it firmly back on the top of the top of discussions for the business community of Geraldton and WA.


While anyone who bought an investment property in Geraldton in the last 10 years probably wanted to see this happen a lot sooner, the timing for building the project at a reasonable price might actually be great. Anecdotal reports indicate mines around WA are starting to slow or finish their building and expansion projects, meaning less staff are required for day to day operations.

This has caused an influx of unskilled labor to arrive back in Perth and other regional areas around WA, as people's positions on the mines are no longer required.

This means the cost of labour may not be as high as it otherwise would have been to build the Oakajee deepwater port and rail infrastructure, making the project somewhat more feasible.

As we mentioned in our earlier article, Padbury acquired some intellectual property from Yilgarn back in 2011, which now looks like a very good move.

What still has to happen?

  • The next step toward the project becoming a reality is the definitive feasibility studies. Pre-feasibility studies are underway, but there's a few more calculations that need doing apparently.
  • Finding the right engineering, procurement and construction companies. It's a complicated project and will require world class expertise to make it happen. The CEO of Padbury is in Korea at the moment shopping around for the right contractors.
  • Getting the miners and investors in the project to agree on pricing. Basically each mine in the Midwest that wants to use the rail and port infrastructure is going to have to pay, but if it's cheaper just to go to Esperance, then that could hinder Oakajee. The team Padbury put together need to get all the local mines to come to an agreement on price.

 Click here to read the full annoucement from Padbury. 

 What will this mean for Geraldton?

While the amount of iron ore in the Midwest is not at the scale as our neighbours to the north, there's no doubt the extra funds flowing into the region will stimulate economic activity in Geraldton and the Midwest.

What do you think this will mean for Geraldton? What will the social impact be?

Oakajee Deepwater Port and Rail Infrastructure about to be formally given the go ahead

If you've lived in Geraldton for more than 20 years, a headline like this probably won't make you blink. "I'll believe it when I see it" is often heard when the "O" word comes up in conversation around town. But it appears a private wealthy Australian has come to the party as a silent investor and along with Padbury Mining, will be helping make the long talked about project a reality.

Padbury Mining acquired intellectual property from Yilgarn Construction back in 2011, who had, and then lost, the rights to build Oakajee when Alannah MacTiernan and the labor party decided to tear up the agreement they had with Yilgarn and make them bid for it again against another company, Murchison Metals.

Murchison Metals won the bid, formed another company called OPR (Oakajee Port and Rail) with Japanese giant Mitsubishi, and kept everyone holding their breathe for years before finally admitting they couldn't get the money to build it.

It was reported earlier this month that Padbury had signed in excess of forty non disclosure agreements with potential suppliers that wish to be involved, many of which have invested their time and energy to develop a clear pathway for the project to proceed. (

Today shares in Padbury were put in a trading halt, pending "a material announcement regarding the execution of a project financing agreement for the development of the Oakajee Port and Rail Infrastructure Project in the Mid-West region of Western Australia".

pic OPR


Everything Real Estate

When is a good time to buy?I don’t want to pay too much?

Questions you have probably asked before and questions we hear every day, the problem is, who knows?

When is a good time to buy? Real estate works in funny ways and the best way to look at this is like a clock.

The problem is, the only way you know when the clock has hit 6 o’clock, being the best time to buy, is when the time has past and the market is on the way up to 7 o’clock.

I don’t want to pay too much? Do your research before buying by looking at more than one house that suit your requirements, look outside the square, contact the council regarding development potential, obtaining a property valuation, what services are available, consider any maintenance issues that you may be required, any improvements that you plan on doing and you’ll soon start to see what is value to you and what is not. The more properties you see, the more of an informed decision you can make when placing an offer.

Buying property is a very exciting process and with the right information and guidance fun times are ahead.

Over and Out.

Written by Dave Rawlingson and Janette Brennan

Janette and David are "Team Brennan" at Ray White Geraldton. Learn more here.

Everything Real Estate

For a long time now, many investors have been making money by subdividing residential investment properties under the old R-codes. With recent changes to the R-codes late last year, you may be sitting on a gold mine.

R-Code Changes On 2 August 2013, the WA R-Code changes officially came into effect. The changes will not only allow developers to build houses on smaller lots, but  will also allow many home owners to subdivide blocks that were previously ineligible for subdivision.

Minimum Lot Sizes are Smaller Developers are facing pressure to provide houses on smaller lots that require less maintenance. The minimum lot size for a house that is on an R20 lot has been reduced from 500sqm to 450sqm, R25-40 and R60 have also undergone decreases in lot size.

Ancillary Accommodation aka Granny Flat

Previously, any ancillary dwelling on a property was only allowed to be occupied by family members, hence where the name “Granny Flat” came from. Under the new changes, "Granny Flats" can now be rented to anyone! As an added bonus, the allowable floor space has been increased to 70sqm, providing this does not exceed the allowed plot ratio.

How Small??? Under the new R-Codes, green title lots can be submitted for as small as 260sqm for development approval of a single house.

GOLD GOLD GOLD!!! The GOLD you have been looking for may now be right under your feet. Contact the Council Town Planning Department to see what R-code relates to your property, then ask for an information sheet to see how far you could "chop" your block down.

Saying all this, you have to always keep in mind the big picture and ask yourself some questions:

1) If you plan on living on the same block you are sub-dividing, do you want neighbours close by?

2) Check all services available to your block ie, power, water, deep sewerage etc  as these will all need to be easily available for your subdivision if not there could  be extra costs.

3) Is sub-dividing the "best thing" to do? As these large lots continue to get "chopped", they are also becoming harder to find. If you plan on living in the property for a long time your un-subdivided property may be worth a lot more into the future.

For more information visit: City of Greater Geraldton Town Planning

For the first time in 2014, Over and Out

Written by Dave Rawlingson and Janette Brennan

Janette and David are "Team Brennan" at Ray White Geraldton. Learn more here.

Everything Real Estate

by Dave Rawlingson and Janette Brennan

How is the market going? Are properties selling?

Questions we hear multiple times a day. The reality is that to sell your home in a reasonable time frame, you need to listen to what the market is saying. Be it a strong or weak market, in the end it all comes down to price.

Yes it’s the dreaded price talk that home owners don’t like to have. Let me ask you a question, why is this talk so dreaded?

Think about when you go shopping down town. Do you buy something that you believe to be over priced? Unless you’re Bill Gates, probably not. Property is no different.

Consider the cost of holding your property on the market. You will have holding costs such as land rates, water rates, maintenance, interest on your home loan and insurance to pay which could amount to tens of thousands of dollars over a period of time.

Pricing and marketing are extremely important when listing your property for sale. In addition the first four weeks of any marketing campaign are critical to finding your prospective buyer. You may need to consider a price adjustment or another method of sale (which we will cover next week).

To answer the questions above, the market is slightly subdued at the moment and YES properties are selling…if the price is right!

“Sellers need to be mindful of the pressure in the market place on price” - Ian Wheatland.

Over and Out


David and Janette are "Team Brennan" at Ray White Geraldton. Learn more here.

Everything Real Estate

First Home Owner's Grant

By Dave Rawlingson and Janette Brennan

This week we will be covering a question we often hear from first home buyers and more so again with changes heading our way: “As a first home buyer how much will I receive back from the first home buyers grant (FHOG)?”

Most first time home buyers believe they will receive a higher amount back from the government than is actually true. Why? It has changed quite a few times over the years since its inception in 2000.

Originally starting off with a grant of $21,000 and undergoing multiple changes since then, currently the grant looks like this:
South of the 26th Parallel (e.g. Geraldton)
- $7,000 to the first home buyer
- The home must not exceed $750,000
- You must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- You must not have owned property in this country
- You must have lived in Australia for at least six months
- You must be over 18 years of age
- You must be buying or building your first property as a person, not as a company or trust
- Neither you or your spouse can have claimed this grant previously
- An eligible home must be located in Australia and be a new or established house, unit  or flat
- You must live in the property for at least six months, starting within the first 12 months

But once again there are more changes heading our way on the 15th of September, once new legislation passes through parliament. The main changes are aimed at established homes and new homes:
Buying Established
- $7,000 reduced to $3,000 to the first home buyer

Buying New or Building
- $7,000 increased to $10,000 to the first home buyer

The government is trying to push first home buyers to build more homes to produce more “stock” for future growth. In reality, building a new home can be an expensive exercise, which is out of the reach of most first home buyers. With the median purchase price for first home buyers pushing upwards of $400,000, the offer of a further $3,000 to build is a very modest enticement in the scheme of things.

There are also a few other benefits which you may not know about under the current grant:
- With homes priced at $500,000 or less you do not pay any stamp duty as a first home buyer, which can save you up to $17,765
- REBA also offers up to $2,000 after settlement as a rebate for mortgage registration fees, solicitor and/or conveyancing fees, valuation fees, inspection fees, establishment fees, mortgage insurance premiums and lending institution fees associated with lodging the application.

What does all this mean for you, the first home buyer?

If you are thinking about buying an established home in the next month or so, maybe look at getting in before the 15th of September grant changes.

For more information log onto
For FHOG information log onto

Over and out.

DISCLAIMER: We have in preparing this article used our best endeavours to ensure the information contained is true and accurate, but accept no responsibility and disclaim all liability in respect to any errors, omissions, inaccuracies or misstatements contained. Prospective purchasers should make their own enquiries to verify the information contained in this article.


David and Janette are "Team Brennan" at Ray White Geraldton. Learn more here.

Everything Real Estate

by Dave Rawlingson and Janette Brennan

Welcome to the first weekly Midwest real estate focused column for Everything Geraldton. There wasn't an option for the title of this weekly column; it just had to be Everything Real Estate but if you do have a better title, please feel free to suggest one.

Now time to sell you some property!

Only kidding, selling is most definitely not what this column is about, it is purely about helping you understand how real estate works, plain and simple, no fancy words, no guff and most certainly no sales pitch.

Now comes the time for you to ask a question, what would you like to know about real estate?

Anything from starting or growing your investment portfolio to purchasing your very first home. It doesn't even have to be about buying or selling. What about renting, renovating, developing or building? In fact anything to do with property at all, even how to become an agent?

Let the questions come and we will try to answer all that we can over time.

email your questions to

Over and out for this week.


David and Jantte are "Team Brennan" at Ray White Geraldton. Learn more here.