Million dollar boom time

SALE and district is enjoying its own mini boom, fuelled by millions of dollars in projects.

The optimism locally has been boosted by the RAAF $185 million development, the bringing in of Basic Flight Training (worth about $20 million per annum to the region), Esso’s $1 billion Longford Gas Conditioning Plant and $4.5 billion offshore Kipper Tuna Turrum projects, a new $25 million 144-bed residential aged care facility in Sale, the $260 million Princes Highway duplication works from Traralgon to Sale, the state government’s recent announcement of $20 million for Macalister Irrigation District upgrades, the new $7.6 million Sale Specialist School, the $13.7 million Port of Sale precinct redevelopment, the new $3.3 million Sale Livestock Exchange, $2.6 million for the first stage of the Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club development and the new Sale Ambulance Station.

These projects have and will generate short term jobs, but more importantly many long term jobs, particularly the nursing home and RAAF projects.

Developers predict the new nursing home will generate 170 ongoing jobs, but it will be the RAAF base which is set to provide the biggest economic boost.

The Royal Australian Air Force says that from 2019, RAAF Base, East Sale, will have an annual intake of up to 165 trainee pilots and will allow Defence to increase the number of graduates from 77 to 105 pilots each year.

The training system will also support about 162 jobs as part of the ongoing training of students at RAAF Base, East Sale.

An independent analysis provided to Defence indicates an increase in the region’s income base of $17 to $19 million per annum, adding an additional six per cent to the region’s economy.

Over the 25 year contract period, the ADF says there will be economic gains of more than $500 million.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has also identified Wellington Shire and Sale as strong performers.

REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said Wellington Shire had recorded significant increases in house sales in the past year, up 18.3 per cent to 585 sales.

Sale was also one of the state’s strongest performers this year for rentals, with solid growth recorded for two bedroom units as well as three and four bedroom houses.

Mr Raimondo said rents for two bedroom units in Sale rose 13.6 per cent over the year to a median weekly rental of $250.

Three bedroom houses also increased, up 7.4 per cent to a weekly median of $290, while rent for four bedroom homes grew 8.3 per cent to $390 per week.

Graham Chalmer Real Estate principal Stephen Chalmer said it was all good news for the area.

“As long as employment stays strong, everything else stays strong,” he said.

He said as work wound down on the Esso’s gas conditioning plant and people began to vacate, rental vacancies would increase.

“These other projects will take up the slack,” Mr Chalmer said.

“There will be some rental pressure in the short term but not a lot although it is really hard to say.”

Mr Chalmer said it appeared the Defence Housing Authority had not been disposing of older housing but renovating and keeping properties, presumably to cater for increased numbers of RAAF personnel.

DHA had also bought stages five and six at the Woondella Estate and was planning to develop the land, retaining some of the blocks for itself and selling the balance on the open market.

As the RAAF project started up, Mr Chalmer said extra pressure may be exerted on the local rental market, and he also predicted house prices would increase.

“Full time employees will be here for some length of time,” Mr Chalmer said.

“Some will want to stay and buy a house rather than rent.

“You would think that house prices have to go up, but you would still hope that they’re affordable,” he said.

Mr Chalmer said there was probably not enough new housing coming on line now to satisfy future demand, but there was land available in the Glenhaven, Cobains and Glebe estates, with house and land packages still affordable, particularly for those on dual incomes.

“But in the long term we’ll need more housing development,” he said.

Mr Chalmer said he had seen a slight increase in the number of properties bought by investors following the RAAF base announcement, adding many were unaware of other projects coming up.

“But probably less than 10 per cent of our market are investors; the rest are owner occupiers,” he said.

Mr Chalmer said while most people who worked in Sale lived there, outlying areas were also likely to benefit from developments on the horizon, particularly places like Stratford and Longford where people lived but commuted to Sale for work.

“When all these jobs are generated, it creates new jobs as well.

“It is really good news for retailers who have been doing it tough,” he said.

Mr Chalmer said with excellent schools and medical facilities and affordable housing locally as well as low interest rates to help attract new people, the future was looking bright.