IT'S official. The Northern Rivers now holds the unenviable title of the most expensive regional residential land in the country, surpassing popular areas such as the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast for the first time.
The median price for a housing block on the Northern Rivers is $238,250 - almost as much as the country's minor capital cities such as Hobart and Darwin, according to the new quarterly Housing Industry Association/RP Data report.
"It is a surprise," said Colin Buttenshaw, executive director of HIA's Gold Coast and Northern Rivers division.
"You would have thought the price of land around the Hunter and Newcastle or the Illawarra, which have had massive developments and population growth with people now commuting to Sydney, would be more than ours but we are now equal to some of the capital cities."
Over the last quarter, land prices along the coast from Tweed to Ballina rose "significantly", largely because of the lack of land on the market or ready for development, he said.
Mr Buttenshaw said part of the reason for the lack of available land was the area's mountainous terrain making large scale development difficult.
However, the major reasons were state and local government red tape and excessive fees and charges.
"The result of this red tape-driven extended planning process means that developers accrue large holding costs that often go back many years before a block of land can be made ready to sell," he said.
"Ultimately the consumer will bear these costs in the purchase price of the land."
Mr Buttenshaw said the shortage of affordable housing for families was reaching the stage where it was crimping the region's economic growth.
"We are of the view that if you look at Northern NSW it ground to a stop in regards to housing, which drives economic growth, in July last year," he said.
"The only people who will benefit from the price is the NSW government and local government and they have to look beyond the belief that development of housing is a cash cow.
"I can understand them looking for reasonable returns from beach developments but for Mum-and-Dad houses we shouldn't be looking at ripping as much money out of them as we can to support other activities in the shires.
"We should be encouraging people and letting them build the businesses that we need to support the shires."
Lowest land values
1. Northern (SA) $60,000
2. South East (SA) $75,000
3. Southern (Tas) $77,250
4. Mallee (Vic) $78,750
5. Northern (NSW) $83,000
6. Murray Lands (SA) $87,000
7. Murrumbidgee (NSW) $90,000
8. Yorke and Lower North (SA) $91,500
9. Mersey-Lyell (Tas) $95,000
10. Murray (NSW) $100,000
Highest land values
1. Richmond-Tweed (NSW) $238,250
2. Sunshine Coast (Qld) $237,500
3.Gold Coast (Qld) $225,000
4.Illawarra (NSW) $220,00
5.Barwon (Vic) $189,000
6. Fitzroy (Qld) $180,000
7. South Eastern (WA) $179,000
8. Hunter (NSW) $178,000
9. Mackay (Qld) $172,000
10. Mid-North Coast (NSW) $170,000
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.