Real remote: is opportunity knocking in rural areas?

While some of Australia’s regional towns are thriving thanks to local industry, others haven’t had a heydey since gold-rush times. With no tourism drawcards and a landscape ravaged by drought, population numbers in these areas continue to dwindle.

Real estate agency owners in regional Australia are suffering from a drought of their own. Not only is there are lack of property being exchanged, agents who are ready to sell their own businesses are set back by a lack of interest. Any thoughts of passing their agency on to their children have become fanciful, particularly as these now-grown children have long since flown the nest for Melbourne or larger regional centres like Ballarat or Bendigo.

With the traditional model of real estate agencies becoming obsolete in regional Australia, it is no challenge to score an agency and rent roll for a bargain price. Perhaps opportunities exist for creative thinkers?

Regional real estate in the digital age

If a regional real estate agency is selling for a song, how could you acquire it and still profit? Not by sitting in the office, especially in towns with no foot traffic on the main street.

The power to profit from regional real estate lies in the numbers. Acquire enough agencies and you’ll have a vast footprint, a large contact database and a range of properties from expansive farms to country cottages.

Thanks to current technology and improved internet connections in outlying areas, you don’t necessarily have to travel to see every client. Using video conferencing is a great way to touch base and form relationships with regional property owners. You can have in-depth discussions about their sales opportunity and they can even take you for a look around with the help of their mobile phone camera.

To promote a remote property to the market, consider offering virtual tours. Already property development businesses are offering these augmented experiences to clients, allowing them to view properties and housing estates from high rises in the city. As a rural operator selling a valuable estate, you could potentially access the technology to do the same with potential buyers.

And don’t forget aerial drones! Fly sky high to get impressive overhead images to use in your marketing campaigns.

Owning the databases and rent rolls of far-flung real estate agencies can be a long game, but everyone has to sell eventually! Thanks to technology, you don’t have to be in town to form the connections which will result in you being the go-to agent.

Breathing new life

Alternatively, perhaps by taking ownership of a regional real estate agency you can help instigate a new direction for the town it is based in. For many regional centres, the drawcard has evolved from industry to tourism, and very successfully.

One example is the town of Melrose in South Australia. The oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, Melrose thrived during the gold rush but for decades after the 1930s barely rated as a stopping point for travellers. However, as it is situated at the base of Mt Remarkable, an inspired business owner decided to open a store selling mountain bikes and instigate an annual ‘Fat Tyre’ festival to encourage visitors. With 80 kilometres of mountain biking trails, the location now welcomes thousands of eager cyclists every year. The local pub has had a great-looking overhaul and the caravan park enjoys a thriving trade almost year-round.

Tourism activities, food, wine and festivals can be excellent drawcards to not only revitalise a small town but put it back on the map in terms of sought-after real estate and holiday accommodation.

As an agent, there is always potential to play a role in promoting the area to a new generation of visitors and to make it attractive to those seeking a tree change. Who knows, you may decide to invest in some property yourself, ahead of the next boom!

BDH Solutions have been buying and selling rent rolls for over 30 years. Keep up with our latest listings here.