West heads list of bulletproof suburbs
By Bellinda Kontominas
SMH, May 20, 2006
* List: NSW's top 50 suburbs (see attachment for Excel SS)
SYDNEY'S west, south-west and the Central Coast boast the region's most resilient suburbs, where property prices have remained strong throughout the market downturn.
An analysis of Sydney's highest growth areas over the past five years conducted for the Herald shows the exception was Queenscliff on the northern beaches, which pipped parts of the western suburbs to become the city's strongest performer, says Australian Property Monitors.
It was followed by Mount Druitt and surrounding suburbs, Blackett, Tregear and Whalan, in the west. Campbelltown, Camden and Regents Park also performed strongly.
"It gives us a good idea of which suburbs regularly outperform through the good times and bad," said Louis Christopher, the company's managing director. "That takes into account the boom … as well as the last downturn that we had."
Queenscliff achieved 24.8 per cent annual growth, calculated by finding the average percentage change each year. The suburb's median house price jumped from $695,000 to $1.75 million in the five years to March 2006.
"Over the last three years in particular, Manly property values have stagnated or slightly fallen while areas such as Queenscliff have continued to grow … you've had a valuation catch-up," Mr Christopher said.
Those most likely to buy in Queenscliff were young professionals and older buyers downsizing their homes, said Sal Cavallaro, sales manager of LJ Hooker Manly. "We all want to enjoy ourselves while we're still here and the beachside suburbs seem to be able to provide that lifestyle people are looking for."
The lifestyle and affordability of the Central Coast helped raise prices by more than 17 per cent in Ourimbah and West Gosford, where the median house prices rose to $385,000 and $292,000.
Prices in Mount Druitt and some surrounding suburbs rose between 18.7 and 20.7 per cent. Basel Nahas, principal of Laing and Simmons St Marys, said new projects in the area, such as the St Marys Development on the 1545-hectare former defence site and the completion of the M7 motorway, had attracted buyers.
"There's a Westfields here which they've extended and upgraded because of the demand and a hospital and TAFE - there seems to be everything a good suburb should have and that's why people think it's unbelievable value for the price," he said.
Mr Nahas said first home buyers could find a three-bedroom home on a large block in the area for as little as $300,000.
Mr Christopher agreed that affordability was the driving factor behind the popularity of the west and expected prices in the region would continue to rise "while affordability remains a big issue in Sydney".
Mount Druitt topped the list for growth in apartment prices, with gains of 22.3 per cent over the five years. But Sydney's south-west dominated the list, accounting for 60 per cent of the highest-growth suburbs. Prices in Campbelltown jumped 22 per cent and Camden rose 21.2 per cent.
Mr Christopher said many suburbs with potential for growth had not made the list. "What [buyers] should consider is why these areas are growing and take that into account because what these areas offer can be found in a number of other suburbs."
He said suburbs most likely to be future money-makers were still relatively affordable, close to the city or coast or had recently completed infrastructure such as roads and shopping centres.