THE HUMBLE country pub has become hot property as commercial investors jump at a regional tourism surge.
Tamworth, Armidale, Orange, Bathurst, Albury and Wagga - from NSW's north to south - are at the top of the list for first-time investors and Sydney property moguls, John Parsons Hotels sales director Reggie Henderson said.
"There's no question about it, especially larger regional centres or tier-one regional cities like Tamworth are really flying ahead in terms of domestic tourism," he said.
"Your mainstream city hoteliers are coming out into the bush and buying those big hotels, there's even a few new players in the market and regional pub funds have been established to buy up big driven by low interest rates.
"Regional centres are seeing massive growth."
Purchasers are looking for pubs with the "big five", Mr Henderson said, which is a bar, bistro, accommodation, a bottleshop and gaming machines.
Gaming machine entitlements are a huge plus and are highly sought-after by investors.
A 10-month renovation by Harvest Hotels saw the Courthouse Hotel in Tamworth, in NSW's north east, completely revamped.
Across town the historic workers' pub, the Locomotive Hotel, was purchased in a private sale in March last year.
About 40 klicks out of Tamworth, Mark and Leanne Summers followed a life-long dream and invested in the Bendemeer Hotel this year - affectionately known to locals as the 'Bendy pub'.
When they bought the hotel it was rundown and a lot of the locals had stopped coming, Mrs Summers said.
"When we took it on we gave it our all, we kept all the staff and worked really hard with them - we actually doubled the staff in the first three months," she said.
"All the locals have really supported us and thanked us for buying the hotel and bringing it back to life.
"This is where everyone meets, and that's what I wanted to be a part of -that beautiful community in a country area."
The pub has been the beneficiary of caravaners and the 'staycation' market from Tamworth.