PERTH buyers from affluent suburbs have been an active demographic in the rural lifestyle market across the State.
Agents have reported an increase in demand for rural lifestyle properties in the past year, including from Perth buyers, with or without agricultural experience.
Data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics indicated that for the three months to December 2020, Australian capital cities had a net loss of 10,600 people from internal migration, compared with a net loss of 3800 for the December 2019 quarter.
And research from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) grouped factors contributing to regional migration into two categories - push and pull factors.
RAI reported there were three main factors drawing people to regional areas - pull factors - being a sense of space (77 per cent), connecting with the natural environment (77pc) and overall improved wellbeing (75pc).
Key factors driving people's desire to leave the city - push factors - were avoiding roads and traffic congestion (70pc), reducing general stress and anxiety (69pc) and reducing the cost of living (68pc).
Competition in this lifestyle market has been high, with properties often selling within one to 10 days.
Anecdotal evidence from Nutrien Real Estate Bunbury sales representative Steve Lloyd-Smith suggested that many Perth buyers were prepared to pay top dollar to secure a quality lifestyle property in a competitive market.
"Buyers from Perth have been a demographic that I have seen increase in the past year," Mr Lloyd-Smith said.
"For example, we took a property to market at Brookhampton (of 64.7 hectares) and we had two offers come in above the asking price in less than seven days.
"Both of those offers were from Perth buyers."
Often a quality home can be a priority for buyers seeking a rural lifestyle property.
However, Mr Lloyd-Smith said Perth buyers were prioritising the land.
"Recently these buyers have been more focused on the land and the capacity to grow something," he said.
"We've had buyers who want to run some livestock and even a buyer that wanted to produce truffles.
"We sold another property in Manjimup to a Perth buyer which had finger limes, cattle and truffles.
"So people who are looking at these areas and these styles of properties, there is definitely a common factor in that they want to get away from living in Perth and are looking at properties that have good quality water."
In some cases, a house can even hinder a sale.
When there is a really premium home, that is a different dynamic, but sometimes a premium home, which therefore adds a lot of value to the property, the buyers aren't as willing to invest," Mr Lloyd-Smith said.
"Also, lenders might also not be as keen - if a lender can see that the property can run 100 head of cattle with today's commodity prices, that's a far bigger tick in the box than a house."
Referring again to the Brookhampton property, Mr Lloyd-Smith said the buyers were more interested in the land and water than the house.
Stocker Preston Margaret River licensee Mark Murray said demand had significantly increased over the past year to 18 months, coupled with limited listings.
"We have a very buoyant rural and rural lifestyle property market in the (Margaret River) region," Mr Murray said.
"Buyers from Perth tend to be more than 50 years of age with some capital behind them and are after well-presented properties preferably with a stunning home, good grazing land and feature water.
"Local rural and rural lifestyle buyers are generally after the next step up property from the residential home or rural-residential property."
With competition high, buyers were having to move quickly.
"There have been a few occurrences of Perth and Eastern States of people buying sight unseen," he said.
"It's not particularly common to buy sight unseen, but I have dealt with two buyers who have bought in these circumstances in the past four months.
"These have still occurred via video calls so it's not completely flying blind."
When asked to recall some memorable sales Mr Murray gave some fond recollection to two sales that involved Perth buyers, with one being a western suburbs buyer who purchased a 52ha property with the intention of develop it for lifestyle farming and another property which was bought a few years ago by an Applecross couple, who had never farmed before but were now "serious and very capable alpaca farmers".
Albany-based Elders Real Estate residential sales manager Blair Scott said that while Perth buyers in the lifestyle market were a smaller demographic compared to locals, largely due to the distance from Perth, demand had increased since the pandemic.
He said Perth buyers had been seeking both mid and high-price range properties, although around the Albany region lifestyle properties could range from 2ha to 80ha.
"I deal mostly with smaller lifestyle properties, but Perth buyers' criteria depends on what they want to do with the property," Mr Scott said.
"Generally, more than anything they are looking for a nice house, possibly with a view.
"They might want some land to go with it, or plan to build a house on vacant land or knock down an old existing house and build a new one."
He said that in this segment of the market, Perth buyers have been looking to spend about $500,000 to $900,000.
Similar to other popular lifestyle regions, the Albany area has had limited listings, with Mr Scott saying "listings have been lower than I have seen for a while - by about half".
And as with other regions, limited listings have been supported with strong demand, leading to properties often coming under offer within seven days.
"Most sectors of the market in this region have definitely increased in value, but that's on the back of being very slow for a couple of years, so values have basically returned to where they were."