Block judge buys Berry nice home

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THE Block judge Neale Whitaker and his partner David Novak-Piper have bought their dream home in what has been officially announced as the best-performing area of the property market in NSW.

And they may even use it as a wedding venue to take advantage of the new gay marriage laws.

The couple, who are yet to sell their Alexandria apartment that passed in at auction on a vendor bid three weeks ago, have bought a four-bedroom country home for $1,837,500 at Bundewallah, a little hamlet 4km from Berry on the South Coast.

“It’s exactly what we wanted,” Mr Whitaker told the Sunday Telegraph exclusively.

“It may need a bit of renovation over time, but it’s very liveable now … we can just move in and enjoy the amazing views.

This week, CoreLogic’s senior research analyst, Cameron Kusher, released data showing home values in both Shoalhaven, where Bundewallah is located, and the nearby Southern Highlands grew 9.2 per cent over the past 12 months. This compares with Sydney, where values have dropped 4 per cent.

The next best regional performers were the central west of NSW, which includes the cities of Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange, which had 7.3 per cent growth.

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie had a 7.1 per cent lift, the capital region around Canberra 7 per cent; Coffs Harbour and Grafton 6.2 per cent; Hunter Valley 5.9 per cent and New England (Moree, Narrabri, Tamworth) 2.9 per cent.

Raine and Horne Berry agent Kimberley Clarke, who sold Mr Whitaker the home on a hectare of land said the property market was “healthy” and the recently opened Berry bypass “is amazing”.

“There was a fear from the townsfolk that business would drop off, but it hasn’t,” Ms Clarke said.

“We don’t have big trucks rolling down the main street any more and Berry is really buzzing.

“It’s a destination in itself and our weekends start on a Thursday and finish on a Tuesday.”

Likewise in the Southern Highlands villages of Bowral, Moss Vale and Mittagong, Ray White Bowral principal Gene Fairbanks has noticed both young professionals and families abandoning the rat race.

“A lot of them are able to work from home on Fridays and Mondays and do the hour-and-15-minute commute on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” Mr Fairbanks said.

“And others are opening little cafes, bike shops and lots of cool and funky things.”

He said you could buying a block in Burradoo for between $1 million and $1.4 million: “It’s a great opportunity to have a bit of space for the family.”

While these areas could be seen as the perfect marriage of lifestyle and convenience, Mr Whitaker was a little more reticent about the likelihood of his getting married there.

“We’ll move to Berry first and sell Alexandria and get things sorted and then think about things like marriage,” he said.

“We’ve been married under British law for a number of years, but we may well get married here too and have a wedding on the property.”

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