Property watchers say crime, high interest rates driving down Alice Springs house prices

Crime, high interest rates and the lack of government incentives are creating a perfect storm for the Alice Springs residential property market, according to an industry spokesperson.

Lindsay Carey is the southern delegate for the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory and says the market had "seen better days".

"The reality is that the  supply versus the demand is certainly lopsided to the supply side," he said.

Close up of a man in a shirt.

Lindsay Carey is the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory southern delegate.(Supplied: Lindsay Carey)

Mr Carey said there were currently 285 residential properties on the market, not including those under contract.

He said that crime levels and subsequent national news coverage were effecting the market negatively.

"Crime has impacted massively in our market," Mr Carey said.

"Everyone's concerned about security. There's a lot of people wanting to leave as they don't feel safe."

He said the bad press was also making it hard for the region to attract new people and, coupled with high interest rates, it was effecting potential buyers' borrowing capacities.

"We've seen a turn in the last 12 to 18 months of over 30 per cent less borrowing capacity to what they could have borrowed quite easily two or three years ago," Mr Carey said.

"So the cheap money is gone and it's definitely impacting what people are willing to spend or can afford to spend."

A slow month in a buyer's market

He said it was a buyer's market and April had been a very slow month.

"There was only 22 settlements for advertised property through agents," Mr Carey said. 

"Usually on average, you'd have at least a house a day."

Mr Carey has called on the Northern Territory government to not only address crime but to also provide an incentive scheme to homebuyers in the Northern Territory.

Stamp duty exemptions in the NT only exist for house and land packages, and for new builds through the first homebuyers scheme.

"We really do need some kind of incentive for first homebuyers to help get into the market," Mr Carey said.

"Previous schemes have been stamp duty exemption or funds towards doing some renovations, which was quite successful."

He said that it was important to note that properties were selling but not at the same prices as they would have received 18 months to two months ago.

"You will get fluctuations of the market going up or down," Mr Carey said.

"We don't tend to get huge growth in Alice Springs. We tend to be quite level for long periods of time, but definitely there has been a decrease and a softening of prices."

Family bypasses real estate agents

After 25 years, Jamie Moore and his family made the "emotional" decision to leave Alice Springs for family reasons and also for their daughter's education in South Australia.

Mr Moore said they decided that they would not use a real estate agent thanks to the softening market and the realisation they were not going to get the price that they had anticipated.

A small family stand with a beach in background

Jamie Moore, with Phoebe and Lisa Donohugh, said the decision to leave was an emotional one.(Supplied:  Jamie Moore)

"I kept a pretty active eye on prices around Alice Springs and there was definitely a slowdown in the amount of properties selling," he said.

"People were having to readjust their prices, as the amount of houses on the market was increasing."

By selling the house themselves, Mr Moore said he believed the family saved time.

"If the agent's commission was approximately $18,000 to $20,000, we would have had to advertise at $535,000 to $545,000, which I think would have slowed things down a lot," he said.  

"It makes sense to embrace the DIY [do-it-yourself] spirit, which folk in Alice Springs are pretty good at."

A steady increase of properties

Mr Moore said he did have some reservations due to the steady increase of properties coming onto the market.

"There were some concerns starting to creep in. We would have liked to gone out to the market a little bit earlier than we did," he said.

"One was that the house is a bit of an odd shape.

"I suppose some of the social issues in Alice Springs were starting to creep into the thought process and increasingly becoming of concern."

But Mr Moore said the crime was not the primary reason his family wanted to leave town.

"Myself, my wife and my daughter had a fantastic time in Alice Springs," he said.

"We have still got some friends there that we'll have forever and it's been a massive part of both mine and my partner's lives.

"It's very mixed feelings that we had to leave. It's pretty emotional."

Government to fund more police

NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler said the government was committed to curbing crime in Alice Springs by boosting police coffers with an extra $90 million per year.

"This will see 200 extra sworn police officers available for deployment across the Territory, including Alice Springs," she said.

Sunset over a desert town with a mountain in background

Alice Springs' residential property market has seen better days(ABC Alice Springs: Emma Haskin)

Ms Lawler said there were incentives in the Northern Territory for homebuyers.

"On top of the existing $10,000 stamp duty relief for new builds, we will also continue to look at incentives for first home owners."

"We know when you own a piece of the Territory, you stay in the Territory.

"More than $200 million is allocated for more land release, including in Alice Springs.

"We know that some people want to purchase established homes [and] we are focused on making sure we have the supports in place that Territorians need."