INDUSTRY insiders predict the Ballina property market is poised for an upswing in 2014 after one local agency reported a 35 per cent increase in sales volumes last year compared to 2012.

LJ Hooker Ballina ended the year on a strong note, outperforming its sales results from the previous two years, also chalking up a 24 per cent increase on 2011’s figures.

Agent Dean Shay says the burgeoning sales activity proves confidence is returning to the coastal community.

He said the year started on a strong note with a bumper tourist season pushing the town to full capacity.

“We’ve seen a lot of holidaymakers in town who see Ballina as not just a holiday destination but a viable, relaxed residential alternative to busier and more expensive locations such as the Gold Coast.” he said.

“Recent upgrades to infrastructure, services and amenities have put Ballina in the box seat for growth as we enter a new real estate cycle and a spike in enquiry over the Christmas and New Year period is reflective of that.”

Mr Shay said Ballina’s population growth, encouraged by recently completed upgrades to the Pacific Highway between Ballina and the Gold Coast along with improvements to CBD infrastructure, was cementing the local market’s improvement.

“The Tintenbar to Ewingsdale highway upgrade will improve the drive time to the Gold Coast and Brisbane when completed in the second half of the year and people relocating from Queensland have responded well to this.” he said.

Representative of the growing number of people moving to the town, Mr Shay said the new residential development sector was among the market’s most active.

He said affordability played a factor, with Ballina’s median price well below the neighbouring tourist towns of Lennox Head and Byron Bay.

“Like Byron and Lennox, Ballina is very well established but it also has the benefit of the river as well as surfing beaches.” Mr Shay said.

Mr Shay said off the back of last year’s sales figures, 2014 heralded greater market activity with growing demand likely to push prices upwards.

Mr Shay said new, permanent living riverfront apartments in Ballina were acutely undersupplied, with no new end-user apartment stock released to the market for more than six years.

He said a $31 million apartment project proposed for Ballina’s CBD would break the drought of new apartments and meet demand for luxury units on the riverfront.

Reside Living at Ballina, which is currently for approval before Ballina Shire Council, will be pitched at downsizing baby boomers and empty nesters.

The project will comprise 36 apartments above 794sqm of ground floor commercial space, built on one of the last waterfront development sites in Ballina’s CBD.

Developer Reside Living Pty Ltd plans to start construction of the blue chip project in the middle of this year – the first in a number of projects planned under the Reside Living brand, which offers low maintenance living to baby boomers looking to downsize without compromise.