Matt Johnson| The New Daily| 26 November 2020
Finding a budget-friendly home close to life’s necessities can be a difficult task for any buyer.
But new research has attempted to make it a little easier.
PRD Real Estate’s ‘Affordable and Liveable Property Guide’ has revealed how capital-city, middle-ring suburbs strike the perfect balance between affordability and liveability.
It gave the highest marks to self-contained suburbs roughly 15 to 20 kilometres from capital city CBDs.
But buyers have been warned to do their homework before buying into those areas, as some have limited numbers of modern homes, a fledgling sense of community, and inconvenient access to public transport.
The index factored in accessible median house prices, relatively strong price growth trends and rates of rental yield – the amount of annual rental income against the total value of an investment property.
And its definition of liveability took into account the suburb’s crime rate against the state average, access to amenities, and employment rates.
PRD Research chief economist Diaswati Mardiasmo told The New Daily “Christmas had come early” as the pandemic had expanded the field of affordable suburbs from which the firm could choose.
Dr Mardiasmo said this was largely due to lower interest rates, looser bank lending, and a raft of government stimulus measures, including HomeBuilder, first-home buyer grants and stamp duty concessions.
This means suburbs that already had good access to hospitals, open spaces and other amenities are now well within reach of first-home buyers, she said.
“We were actually able to identify a wider pool of suburbs than most other iterations of our report,” Dr Mardiasmo said.
“We’re not having difficulty in finding suburbs that have a positive price, so that means there is definitely increasing interest and higher demand for property in that middle ring.”
PRD’s research – which assessed house and unit markets in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart – found Melburnians and Hobartians are spoiled for choice, with affordable and liveable suburbs dispersed across those cities.
Melbourne’s top-ranking suburbs included Point Cook in the west and the northern suburb of Bundoora, while Hobart’s most affordable locales encompassed Bellerive, Kingston and Lindisfarne.
However, Sydney’s (Beverly Hills, Padstow Heights, Peakhurst) and Brisbane’s (Boondall, Taigum, Moggill) top-ranking suburbs were concentrated in south-western and northern areas respectively.
Suburbanite principal Anna Porter disputed the idea that the pandemic made middle-ring suburbs in “powerhouse” capital cities such as Melbourne and Sydney affordable.
She said suburban family areas and ‘housing-stock-and-yard’ suburbs in middle rings experienced some of the greatest price growth as families sought more living space during the market rebound.
And although middle-ring areas could be tantalising for bargain hunters, buyers should exercise caution and consider how working lives will change after the pandemic, Ms Porter said.
Because although it may be tempting to move into a property within short driving distance of supermarkets and parks, workers may realise working from home is not a viable long-term solution, she said.
“It’s all about finding something that suits you long term,” Ms Porter told The New Daily.
“Some of these areas are a little older in terms of housing stock and some are a little underdeveloped – which may be ideal for some – but as more people become interested in those areas, it attracts the attention of developers.
“And also when considering these pockets, consider commuting once your work life returns to something that may reflect your pre-COVID lifestyle, and also check schools in the area as some might be part of catchments for schools you’re not familiar with.”
Buyer’s advocate and Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia president Cate Bakos said for some buyers, the hunt for affordability can blunt other aspirations, including a sense of community.
As a result, young families could find themselves in a gentrifying suburb with fewer like-minded people to connect with, she said.
“They have to be comfortable they might not necessarily be surrounded by younger professionals,” Ms Bakos told The New Daily.
“If they have a larger property it would require more maintenance and if it’s not near public transport, commuting will prove more challenging.
“If they’re really determined to own their own home and they’re priced out of picking and choosing their ideal suburbs, that desperation to own their own home will lead them to making some major sacrifices.”