Median house prices in the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes have recorded the biggest 12-month gains of any other rural area across Australia. A report from property website Domain revealed the median house price in the Lower South West shire grew from $445,000 in December 2022 to $585,000 last month — an increase of 31.5 per cent. No other local government area in WA featured in the top ten biggest risers and Bridgetown-Greenbushes comfortably outpaced second-placed Adelaide Hills in South Australia, which saw an also-astonishing growth of 25.2 per cent. The report registered the Shire of Manjimup’s median house price growth at 4.3 per cent, while not enough sales were recorded to capture data for the Shires of Boyup Brook and Nannup. Blackwood Valley Real estate sales manager John Pitman said the strength of the region’s housing market growth was unlike anything he had ever seen before. “I’ve been selling real estate down here coming up to 20 years and in that time, I’ve never known it like it is now,” he said. “(With) the COVID situation, a lot of people thought about moving down here but just kept putting it off. They realised now is the time that they should be doing it. “We’ve also got people that have realised that they can actually work from home. And if they were working from home, home didn’t have to be the city.” Mr Pitman also cited the Greenbushes lithium mine as another key driver of prices. Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell added weight to that view, saying “many of these regional areas that have seen double-digit increases are tied to resource environments.” “We know that those resource towns tend to go through big boom-or-bust scenarios,” she said. Ms Powell said the heated construction market was another major contributor to the rise in house prices across the nation. “That balance between demand and supply is a fundamental aspect of our housing market,” she said. “What’s interesting when you look at an area like Bridgetown-Greenbushes, you look at the properties that are being sold, there’s also a lot of parcels of land, which says a lot about increased population growth.” Despite the elation for those benefitting from the higher prices, there is one group for who the rises were hitting hard — first-homebuyers. “The (lower-priced) properties, we’re getting multiple offers on those, which is again driving up the price,” Mr Pitman said. The WA Government this week revealed that homeowners wanting to build a granny flat in their backyard would no longer need to wait months for council planning approval in the latest attempt to ease the State’s housing crisis. As long as the granny flat is smaller than 70sqm and meets setback requirements, homeowners will only need a building permit — delivered in a maximum of 25 business days — before they can make a start. On revealing the change, Planning Minister John Carey said he had high hopes the reform would boost housing, with Granny Flats WA already seeing a 50 per cent jump in demand on last year, even before the announcement. He added that the State Government had invested $2.6 billion in housing and homelessness measures around the State since coming to power. “Our Government continues to do everything we can to bolster the supply of housing throughout Western Australia — including through major planning reforms that cut red tape,” he said.