Australia’s Mining Bust Town Reawakens – by James Thornhill (Bloomberg News – May 23, 2017)

House-buyers seeking a bargain amid the wreckage of Australia’s mining boom might want to get in quick.

Port Hedland, a shipping hub for the Pilbara iron ore region in Western Australia, saw house prices collapse nearly 70 percent in the past four years as workers lost their jobs and left amid the end of a resources investment boom. But prices there have reached a bottom and are now even rising.

“We’re starting to get multiple offers on properties,” said Peter Dunning, a real estate agent at Ray White Group in Port Hedland, who says local values have risen about A$50,000 ($37,470) in the past six months. “People realized that prices had got so cheap, they probably weren’t going to get any cheaper. So they started buying.” Brighter spots in housing is one of three chunks of evidence adding to a growing sense that Australia’s resource-based economies are improving.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s liaison with businesses and its data analysis show emerging signs that the Queensland and Western Australian slowdowns are coming to an end, it said earlier this month. The regions’ jobs markets, meanwhile, showed a healthy pickup in April.

The recent commodities rally has laid a foundation for recovery. While the price of iron ore — Australia’s biggest export — has slipped after unexpectedly rebounding toward the end of last year, it remains well above the lows beneath $40 seen in late 2015.

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