The Darwin residential market can be divided into three main areas by Local Government Authority (LGA). These being Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield municipalities.
Darwin inner and its suburbs form a triangular formation with the older suburbs and the city itself comprising one corner, the northern suburbs comprising another and the eastern suburbs a third.
The older part of Darwin is separated from the newer northern suburbs by the Darwin International Airport and the Royal Australian Air Force Base.
Palmerston is a planned satellite city which is located approximately 20 minutes drive from the Darwin city centre, which was established in the early 1980s but with significant population growth for the city not being observed until the 1990s.
The Litchfield municipality, following on from Palmerston, was established in the mid 1980s. It comprises the rural residential areas of Knuckey Lagoon, Holtze, Howard Springs, Girraween, Virginia, Humpty Doo, Herbert, McMinns Lagoon, Bees Creek, Berry Springs, Noonamah, Livingstone, Acacia Hills, and beyond.
2012 saw the Darwin residential market start to move again after a sluggish 2011. The rental market is in a deficit situation which has caused a notable spike in rental returns and a resulting increase in confidence in the investor market as well as a percentage of would be tenants looking to home ownership as an alternative option.
The announcement from INPEX of the final investment decision to build the LNG gas plant at Blaydin Point has contributed significantly to the surge in market confidence with the project to inject $3.5 billion into the Australian economy each year. The project will require approximately 2,700 workers during its peak construction which has contributed to the shortfall in the rental market and the associated escalating rental values.
The September 2012 quarter has shown all municipalities to have been affected by the surge in confidence.
The most saleable price bracket for houses in all areas has been shown to be between $500,000 to $600,000 with the median house price in Darwin and the northern suburbs being recorded as $585,000 as compared to the Palmerston result of $532,500.
Similarly the most sought after price point with an existing dwelling in the rural areas is also within the $500,000 to $600,000 range.
In Darwin, the land release in Muirhead in the northern suburbs has been met with particularly strong market interest with blocks ranging in price from $310,000 to $350,000 depending upon area and location.
In Palmerston, the suburbs of Bellamack, Johnston, Zuccoli and Durack Heights have all been part of recent land releases, again with strong market interest and a significant number of house/land packages being offered to the market. Land is being offered to the market for between $240,000 and $325,000 depending upon land size, location and aspect.