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Are Australia’s ‘secondary’ cities still a bargain, or have they run their race?

Australia’s capital cities may be coming off the boil, but what of their metropolitan siblings?

Secondary cities such as Geelong, Newcastle and Launceston have been on a run,  proving more affordable options for buyers after prices shot up in the closest major capital city. But with prices in some capitals declining – most notably in Sydney and Melbourne – some secondary cities now don’t look quite as good value as they did a year or two ago.

The outlook for prices in major regional cities Newcastle, Wollongong, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong and Launceston is analysed below.

Secondary cities boomed after major cities became too expensive

When capital city prices become too expensive for first-home buyers and investors, aspiring capital city home buyers often look to nearby regional cities as a cheaper alternative. These secondary cities are often close enough to a major capital that people can commute to the capital city for work.

Price growth in major cities and secondary cities generally track pretty closely together, but sometimes with a delay of around a year. For some cities, the major city in some city-pairs can lead turning points in the price growth of the secondary city.

Sydneysiders consider Newcastle and Wollongong, Melburnians often look to Geelong, and Launceston, Tasmania’s second-largest city, is considered after Hobart. In Queensland, the typical house in Brisbane is cheaper than in the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, but these coastal cities are both within commuting distance to Brisbane and are obvious alternatives to Queensland’s capital.

Property prices in Wollongong, Newcastle and Geelong began rising a year or two after Sydney and Melbourne property prices began taking off around 2013. Launceston house prices have increased significantly since 2017, a couple of years after Hobart’s price boom started in 2015. While price growth has been more subdued up north, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast house prices have increased by more than those in Brisbane.

Most secondary cities have experienced stronger house price growth than their nearest capital cityMedian house price, December quarter
2015201620172018Per cent change,2015-2018
  Gold Coast$545,000$590,000$620,000$622,50014%
  Sunshine Coast$540,000$560,000$615,000$620,00015%
Notes: Capital city house prices are Australian Property Monitor city regions and are a stratified median price. Secondary cities are ABS Significant Urban Areas and are a raw median price.

What’s in store for secondary cities house prices?

Several indicators are used to predict price growth in secondary cities in the coming years.

The first method is comparing the ratio of the median price in a capital city with the secondary city’s median house price. The higher the capital city/secondary city price ratio, the more expensive the capital is compared to the secondary city (for example, a ratio of 2 indicates a typical house in the capital city is twice as expensive as the secondary city).

If a capital city/secondary city price ratio is below average, then this may indicate the secondary city is overvalued, suggesting the secondary city may see weaker price growth in the near future (and vice versa).

Buyer interest in an area – using changes in the number of views per listing from Domain’s website and apps, a leading indicator of future price growth – is also analysed. The economic outlook and job prospects in secondary cities, including the interconnectedness of the secondary city with the closest capital city, are also considered.


While Wollongong’s economy is performing well, its prices are likely to stagnate or fall in the year ahead. The main reason is that the Sydney/Wollongong price ratio has fallen just below the 2010-2018 average and is back close to the level over the 2003-2013 period, where the median house price in Sydney prices was approximately 50 per cent higher than in Wollongong (see graph below). This fall in the price ratio was due to Sydney house prices falling by more than Wollongong house prices over the past two years.

While prices are likely to remain fairly stagnant over the next one to two years, Wollongong’s improving job market and growing links to Sydney should provide support to Wollongong property prices in the medium term.

Wollongong has seen strong jobs growth in the past couple of years, with the unemployment rate for the Wollongong LGA falling from almost 7 per cent in 2016 to 4.5 per cent in 2018.

Wollongong is also a growing commuter town: in 2016, more than 21,000 people commuted from Wollongong to Sydney for work (the second largest regional city to capital city commuting pair, behind the Gold Coast to Brisbane). Wollongong and Illawarra residents may also benefit from the construction of the Badgerys Creek airport, which will be just over an hour’s drive from Wollongong, although construction is not expected to finish until 2026.


Newcastle is likely to see weak price growth or modest price falls in the next year or two. The Sydney/Newcastle price ratio has fallen below the 2010-2018 average as prices have grown slowly in Newcastle over the past year, but fell by 10 per cent in Sydney. This indicates Newcastle houses may be becoming overvalued compared to Sydney.

Buyer interest in Newcastle also appears to be waning. Domain’s views-per-listing measure for Newcastle fell by 2 per cent over 2018 as there were fewer buyers or they began looking elsewhere.

Another reason property price growth in Newcastle might be subdued is that there is no clear jobs boom on the horizon in the region. Newcastle’s unemployment rate has hovered around 6 per cent over the past couple of years, which is above Sydney’s unemployment rate of 4 per cent.


The Melbourne/Geelong house price ratio fell significantly over 2018 as house prices increased in Geelong and fell in Melbourne. The Melbourne/Geelong price ratio now sits at 1.5, meaning a typical house in Melbourne is 50 per cent more expensive than a typical Geelong house. The ratio is now below the 2010-2018 average.

With Melbourne house prices forecast to continue falling in 2019, Geelong’s relative affordability will decline further, so this may also see prices in Geelong stagnate or fall modestly. The Geelong market is already losing momentum, with house price growth slowing in Geelong over 2018 and Domain’s views-per-listing measure for Geelong falling at the end of 2018.

While the analysis of the Melbourne/Geelong price ratio suggests Geelong prices may fall, there are some promising signs for Geelong’s economy. Some sectors are seeing jobs growth, particularly government jobs, and the city is on the rebound after the end of car manufacturing in 2016. Geelong’s unemployment rate has hovered around 6 per cent since 2016, but a very low unemployment rate in Melbourne of 4 per cent (down from 6 per cent over the past year) may help push Geelong’s unemployment rate lower.

Geelong is increasingly interconnected with Melbourne, which should see the Geelong property market become further tied to the Melbourne market. There are a number of transport infrastructure projects planned, or underway, that should improve travel times between Geelong and Melbourne, including the West Gate tunnel project and planned improvements to the Geelong-Melbourne rail service. 

These projects – combined with strong population growth and lots of homebuilding in Geelong and surrounding towns – mean the number of commuters from Geelong to Melbourne will likely increase from the 15,000 commuters in 2016.


An above-average Hobart/Launceston price ratio, increasing buyer interest and brighter economic prospects all indicate that Launceston may see further price growth over the next one to two years.

Price growth in Launceston, Tasmania’s second-largest city, is closely correlated with price growth in Hobart. As Hobart’s prices boomed over the past few years – house prices have increased by more than 40 per cent since early 2015 – Launceston has become relatively cheaper. The Hobart/Launceston price ratio has increased, with a typical house in Hobart now 40 per cent more expensive than a typical Launceston house, up from a 20 per cent difference a few years ago. 

But Launceston prices have also grown strongly since 2017, resulting in the price ratio stabilising, with the relative affordability of Launceston likely to encourage some investors and migrants to buy in Launceston instead of Hobart.

There is also growing buyer interest in Launceston. Views per listing in Launceston increased by about 40 per cent over 2018.

Launceston’s economic prospects are also improving. Unemployment recently fell to its lowest level in more than seven years, although it remains elevated at 6.8 per cent. Launceston is the subject of a City Deal partnership between federal, state and local governments to boost the Launceston economy. 

The annual MONA-FOMA festival has been moved from Hobart to Launceston, so Launceston may benefit from some of the “MONA-effect” that has boosted Hobart’s economy. A weaker Australian dollar should continue to support Tasmania’s economy by boosting tourist numbers to Tasmania, as well as making Tasmania’s exports cheaper for overseas buyers.

Unlike other city-pairs considered in this article, few people travel between Launceston and Hobart for work (only 275 people commuted from Launceston to Hobart in 2016).

Brisbane-Gold Coast and Brisbane-Sunshine Coast

Moderate price growth in the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast compared to slower price growth in Brisbane over the past two years has made a house in Brisbane relatively cheap compared to the coastal cities. The Brisbane/Gold Coast and Brisbane/Sunshine Coast price ratios have fallen and now sit below the 2010-2018 average, suggesting the coastal cities are slightly overvalued.

Because the smaller Queensland cities have a higher median price than Brisbane, the Brisbane/Gold Coast and Brisbane/Sunshine Coast price ratios are below 1, meaning a typical Brisbane house is about 10 per cent cheaper than in the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

South-east Queensland is highly interconnected. More than 30,000 people commuted from the Gold Coast to Brisbane for work in 2016, the biggest city pair in Australia, while 8400 people commuted from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. 

Job prospects have been better in the Gold Coast than in the other cities. The Gold Coast’s unemployment rate has fallen from 5.5 per cent in late 2016 to 4.3 per cent at the end of 2018, whereas the unemployment rate hovered around 6 per cent in Brisbane in 2018 and increased to 6.5 per cent in 2018 in the Sunshine Coast.

The price ratios suggest Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast house prices may grow more slowly than Brisbane in 2019. But the Domain views-per-listing measure for the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast increased in the second half of 2018, and job prospects look better in the Gold Coast, suggesting there is scope for further price growth for both secondary cities.

The outlook

Secondary cities are closely tied to the performance of their closest capital. Over the next few years, as jobs continue to concentrate in Australia’s major cities, secondary cities will likely become even more closely linked to their nearest capital city.

The outlook for some capital cities is for further falls in 2019 before prices bottom-out later in the year, so the likelihood is secondary cities will see prices stagnate or fall in 2019, although Launceston looks to be an exception.

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Dream Rental: Swap the city for a beach lifestyle

Hands up if you often find yourself daydreaming about swapping the city grind for a laid back beach town? Well, if you’re a renter, chances are you can.

86 Cabarita Road in Avalon is the perfect example of a dream rental in a dream location.

The four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home is perched overlooking the docked boats on Careel Marina.

Rent comes in at $1,395 per week, so if you decided to live here with a group of friends that would make it $348 each.

This may sound like a lot, but it can cost more to rent a terrace house in Paddington.

Cheaper rent is not the only perk to switching to a beach lifestyle. Properties near the water are often good quality as they are owned by landlords who one day plan to holiday or live at the home.

Avalon has a strong rental market for this reason.

“People are moving here as a lifestyle choice and to be surrounded by the surf on one side and Pittwater waterway means there is only a limited number of properties available in this pocket,” says listing agent, Melinda Blake at Blake Property.

“Leases are normally 12 months and we have tenants who have been renting with us for over 10 years. You do not want to move once you are here. A lot of families rent here initially before buying,” she says.

Dream Rental | Swap the City for a Beach Lifestyle - Investors Advisors

The outdoor lifestyle at 86 Cabarita Road is next level. Picture:

“You get open spaces, beautiful beaches, endless water ways, and a community vibe where all the shop owners know you by name.”

With an increasing number of freelancers entering the Australian workforce, rentals like this which prioritise lifestyle could be the best option for digital nomads.

So while all the other schmucks are heading into the CBD for their nine to five job, as a freelancer, you could be setting up the laptop overlooking the water and sipping on a cold beer.

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Six months mortgage free: Sydney developers continue to roll out incentives to lure buyers

Free mortgage payments are among the latest incentives on offer as developers try to lock in buyers in Sydney’s cooling market.

In addition to the stamp duty rebates, rental guarantees, frequent flyer points and strata levy payments already on offer, developers are now prepared to cover mortgage repayments to get buyers in the door.

Apartment buyers can have six months of their mortgage repayments covered for purchases at the Flour Mill in Summer Hill, under an incentive by Colliers International.

Meanwhile, Allam Property Group is offering to cover a year of mortgage repayments on more than 200 new homes across Sydney, the Central Coast and Illawarra.

With tighter lending restrictions hitting buyer demand, Colliers International wanted to address concerns around lending limits, residential project marketing director Ian Bennett said.

Mortage Payments: Six Months Mortgage Free-InvestorsAdvisors
An artist’s impression of the Flour Mill apartments in Summer Hill, which buyers can now purchase for six months mortgage free. Photo: Artist impression

“[Buyers are] concerned about banks and lending and interest rates,” Mr Bennett said. “We wanted to make it easy for them to forget about all that.”

The offer kicked off two weeks ago in a bid to sell just fewer than 30 remaining apartments in stage three of the inner-west development by EG, which has been for sale since 2017.

Mr Bennett said buyers could expect to save a fraction under $20,000 on an apartment priced at $900,000, and noted they also had the option to deduct the savings from the purchase price at settlement.

It comes after buyers were offered a two-year utilities holiday if they purchased at the same development last year, with 18 properties sold over the eight-week promotion, which covered water, gas, electricity bills, as well as strata fees and council rates. Mr Bennett noted a similar promotion – offering 18 months free of bills – kicked off for apartments at Wooloware Bay last week.

Allam Property Group has seen a big increase in inquiries off the back of its 12-month offer, the first it’s had for mortgage payments, said founder Barney Allam. About 25 people have bought homes since January and buyers could save up to $65,000 if they purchase before the end of the month.

“In today’s market we think this is important; smaller offers or offers of free upgrades or furniture simply do not have the cut-through in today’s incentive-driven market,” he added.

Other incentives on offer include full stamp duty rebates, low fixed-interest rates on loans and guaranteed finance where buyers will have their deposit refunded if they cannot secure a mortgage. Promotions offering up to one million frequent flyer points, furniture packages, first-home owner rebates and rental guarantees are also on the table.

Mortage Payments: Six Months Mortgage Free-InvestorsAdvisors
Allam Property Group is offering to pay a year’s worth of mortgage repayments on new homes.

While such offers are appealing, Canstar group executive of financial services Steve Mickenbecker warned buyers to do their research to make sure they were getting good value.

“I’m not saying every single incentive is a problem incentive, but make sure the one you’re taking out is the best one for you. Go in with your eyes wide open,” he said.

He noted buyers also needed to think long term, about whether they could service a loan once an incentive — whether mortgage payments or a rental guarantee — wore off.

“What happens when that first period of support disappears,” he said. “They might find they can’t rent for anywhere near the amount they were renting for, that there isn’t the demand.”

Sydney developer Mark Bainey, chief executive of Capio Property Group, said the rise of such deals was unsurprising given Sydney’s cooling market. The city’s median house price fell 9.9 per cent last year and apartment prices dropped 5.8 per cent, according to the latest Domain Group data.

With tighter lending restrictions affecting buyer demand, as well as finance for projects, Mr Bainey said developers were “throwing everything they have at the buyer to get them to commit”.

On some of his own developments, Mr Bainey offers a furniture package, because “you have to offer some incentive to close [a sale] that’s how difficult the current level of buyer confidence is”.

“[But] I’d never offer mortgage free, I don’t see a reason to; if you’re going to offer six months mortgage free why not just lower the price,” he added.

While attractive, Mr Bainey said, developers were reluctant to drop prices due to the effect it could have on the valuation of apartments already sold for higher values.

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Street names that Cupid would approve

There is no excuse not to remember Valentine’s Day for those living in many of the State’s most loved-up residential addresses.

Among the street names that would no doubt be approved by Cupid, is Darling Street,

Balmain; Heart Place, Blacktown, Cuddlepie Place, Faulconbridge, and of course Kissing Point Road, Dundas.

Love may be considered a two-way street, but at Emus Plains there is a Love Court.

Winston Hills resident Ashleigh Bowles didn’t think too much about the street name when she bought her home at Eros Place more than a decade ago. Surprisingly its street sign has never been ‘borrowed’.

Street Names that Cupid would Approve - Investors Advisors

This four bedroom property in 60 Dilkera Avenue, Valentine has a price guide of $1.8m — $1.9m

“It is definitely an easy way to tell people where I live, I just tell them `Eros Place’, the god of love — they usually have a bit of a giggle,” she said.

“Valentine’s Day is a bit of big deal for me to an extent, we usually go out for dinner but I specifically ask my boyfriend not to get flowers because they are always really marked up on that day.”

Residents living in the Lake Macquarie township of Valentine won’t be able to escape the significance of February 14. While those living in the more commonly found Rose Street and Diamond Court may feel pressure to deliver a gift.

Street Names that Cupid would Approve - Investors Advisors

The Grose Valley and Bridal Veil Falls from Govett’s Leap, in The Blue Mountains

It could, however, be a lonely night for residents living in Single Street at Werris Creek.

Marriage has also inspired many names around NSW such as Honeymoon Bay, at Currarong on the South Coast, Wedding Cake Island, just off Coogee and Bridal Veil Falls in the Blue Mountains.

There is a Bachelor Rd at Wotton on the State’s mid-north coast, yet no Spinster Street.

At Wolli Creek, several apartments have been sold in Lusty Street, but the risqué name hasn’t put off buyers. Agent Paul Karasalidis from Century 21 Southern Realty admits he was amazed when no one questioned the unusual address when they sold a two-bedroom unit there 18 months ago.

“People just didn’t bring it up at all — I’m really not sure why they chose that street name,” he said.

Street Names that Cupid would Approve - Investors Advisors

This Lovedale has just been listed for sale

The suburb of Lovedale is capitalising on its romantic name becoming an increasingly popular destination for couples wanting to marry in the Hunter Valley. Agent Ray Armstrong has just listed a stunning vineyard set on 12.14ha at 162 Wilderness Rd. It has attracted several inquiries from buyers interested in turning the property into a wedding reception venue.

“People really do like the name of Lovedale and that is how they have promoted the area,” he said.

Street Names that Cupid would Approve - Investors Advisors

This home in Love Street, Blacktown sold in December for $718,000

Romance is literally just around the corner at Blacktown and Cessnock, both of which have a Love Street. But if you are hoping to impress a potential Valentine, maybe steer clear of Dubbo — one of the few towns in the State with a Rocky Road.

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What now for Sydney’s property market? 5 experts give their predictions

Uncertainty is the only certainty when it comes to the future of Sydney’s property market.

With the final report from the banking royal commission handed down last week and both a state and federal election looming, we asked five experts how they expect the Sydney market will fare over the rest of this year.

Ernst & Young Oceania chief economist Jo Masters

Weakening demand and market sentiment are the emerging themes for 2019, Ms Masters said.

“There are widespread expectations of further prices falls,” she said. “We’re starting to see weakness in the housing market broaden out, not from just Sydney and Melbourne geographically, but across segments.”

“There’s real weakness in owner-occupier finance and also in the first-home buyer segment.”

While first-home buyer demand may have been pushed forward by changes to stamp duty in 2017 and was also affected by tighter lending restrictions, Ms Masters said it reflected a pull-back in buyer sentiment.

“We know that first-home buyers were accessing credit throughout 2017 and 2018,” she said. “[But now] the segment seems to be falling, despite affordability improving.”

Ms Masters said the upcoming state and federal elections were only feeding into the market uncertainty and expected buyers — particularly first-home buyers who have higher loan-to-value ratios — would wait to see signs of a slow down in price falls.

She predicted we’re halfway through the market downturn, but noted unless price falls slowed soon, we could see a peak-to-trough fall of more than 20 per cent.

“Those forecast of 20 per cent peak-to-trough declines were predicated on starting to see signs of the slowdown in house prices falls, and we just haven’t seen that yet.”

BIS Oxford Economics managing director Robert Mellor

Hesitation from both buyers and sellers could continue until at least mid-year, according to Mr Mellor.

While “we’ve seen the worst of it” when it comes to tighter lending restrictions, Mr Mellor also expected a decline in buyer demand, particularly among first-home buyers who have been propping up loan volumes.

“First-home buyers don’t want to buy into the market if they there is another 10 per cent decline [possible],” he said.

While timing was less critical for upgraders and downgraders, buying and selling in the same market, Mr Mellor said many would be reluctant to make a move.

“We’re in for a fair degree of hesitation until people see price data start to show, not flattening prices, but at the very least [smaller price declines],” he added.

As for investors, Mr Mellor said it was possible some were sitting on their hands awaiting the outcome of the federal election and potential changes to negative gearing. But, he added, it was unlikely they would rush back if the current tax settings remained because there was little growth on the horizon.

He noted that, for the same reason, if negative gearing was scrapped by a Labor government, the impact shouldn’t be significant because investors had less market share than in previous years.

If the market — forecast to see a peak-to-trough fall of about 15 per cent — bottoms out late this year or early next year, it will be a slow recovery, with mediocre price growth expected for a couple of years, Mr Mellor said.

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Gareth Aird

While credit tightening should be “done and dusted”, home loan approvals — down almost 20 per cent in 2018 — are expected to remain weak, Mr Aird said.

“It’s not because of constraint on the supply of credit; it’s basically because demand for credit has come off in line with views that house prices have further to fall,” Mr Aird said.

He expects credit demand to remain soft for the next three to six months and said the sharper than expected fall in credit growth, and drop in market sentiment, were key factors behind revised forecasts released by Commonwealth Bank last week.

The forecast, released on Thursday, predicted Sydney’s prices would fall another 5 per cent this year — which would take them to 15 per cent below their June 2017 peak.

“There’s a self-fulfilling nature … the timing of lending standards occurred quite a while ago. It’s not that, in and of itself, now,” Mr Aird said.

“If households as a collective expect house prices to go down … they invariably will because buyers hold off buying or offer lower prices, and that’s in part how you can get a correction down, the same thing happens on the way up.”

As prices continue to fall, Mr Aird expected investors would make their way back to the market as yields would become more appealing.

“I’m sure there are some investors sitting on the sidelines, just waiting to see the result of the election [and potential changes to negative gearing].”

NAB chief economist Alan Oster

Sydney’s property market has been hurt by APRA’s crackdown, said NAB chief economist Alan Oster, and prices have further to fall.

“I don’t see tightening of credit coming out of the royal commission … but I do see more emphasis on expenses and [banks] may become a little more gun shy, in the sense of knowing people are watching them in case they make a loan that turns bad.”

Mr Oster said while banks were looking more carefully at expenses, customer expectations were also changing.

“Previously buyers thought I better get in or prices will keep going up, now they’re thinking they’re not sure if they should,” Mr Oster said.

While NAB has kept its price forecast at a 15 per cent peak-to-trough fall, it announced on Tuesday that it now expects the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold well into the next decade.

The bank, which had previously believed the next move would be up, now believes the RBA could even be forced into cutting the rate from its record low of 1.5 per cent, within months.

“I don’t see it going up, [but] we do see a significant and growing chance that it might go down,” said Mr Oster. The revision comes as its latest monthly business survey shows a slump in confidence across the east coast.

Housing Industry Association principal economist Tim Reardon

Despite a record number of apartments set to be completed, there is little fear of an oversupply of dwellings and significant further price falls, said Housing Industry Association principal economist Tim Reardon said.

“While unemployment remains low … and population growth remains strong, the depths of this cycle will be relatively shallow,” Mr Reardon said.

Apartments will clear relatively quickly, Mr Reardon added, as developers were holding back until conditions improved – with apartment approvals data for the December quarter down more than 33 per cent year on year.

“The rate at which they slowed down at the end of 2018 was a surprise, but now that the credit squeeze has occurred, we expect approvals will continue with a relatively slower, slow down over the next two years.”

Mr Reardon expected both developer and investor activity to increase as the market stabilised, potentially by mid-year,  but said the upcoming elections were adding to the market uncertainty. At a federal level there are potential changes to negative gearing on the cards meanwhile, at a state level, there were concerns regarding development sentiment, which was shaping up to be a key election issue.

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Nundah: Why it’s a property hotspot for Brisbane singles

In Aboriginal, Nundah means “chain of water holes” and there sure were watering holes aplenty as I drove down its impressive high street recently.

There were so many, in fact, that even though I missed the turn-off to Sandgate Road from the Airport Link, I found myself gawking left and right at the myriad upmarket retail offerings on either side of the road.

On one side of the street there were trendy barista coffee and gelato shops, and on the other hip bars like The Village Social as well as stylish interior decorating stores.

Nearly half the population in Nundah is single, according to census data — that’s significantly higher than the national and Queensland averages — and it’s easy to see why the unattached are so drawn to the area.

Nundah’s vibrant village vibe with bars, cafes and shops makes it the perfect place to socialise, live and work and the big clincher: it’s also still mainly affordable.

Ray O’Brien, principal of LJ Hooker Lutwyche, has witnessed the once working-class suburb gentrify over the past decade in particular.

Nundah: Why it’s a Property Hotspot for Brisbane Singles - Investors Advisors
Nundah’s vibrant and trendy high street is popular with locals but still easily accessible. Photo: Nicola McDougall

It all started when through traffic from busy Sandgate Road was diverted via a bypass tunnel in the early 2000s and then continued apace when the suburb was selected for urban renewal.

“The council basically did some social engineering,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The reason is because of the infrastructure that’s already here – you’ve got tunnels, train, and easy access to the airport, which is like a mini-city so there are a lot of people who work there.

“The vibe has changed. It’s a bit more of a village now.”

Over the past five years, the suburb has seen a sharp increase in commercial offerings in its retail strip as well as unit developments, which has temporarily impacted prices.  

According to Domain Group data, the median unit price in Nundah fell by 7.1 per cent to $395,000 over 2018, which makes unit buying a very attractive (and affordable) way to get into the property market.

Nundah: Why it’s a Property Hotspot for Brisbane Singles - Investors Advisors
Houses like 46 Jenner Street are the kind of houses you can pick up for around the median house price in Nundah. Photo: Alma Clark Real Estate

Houses are also still great value. The median price grew by 2.2 per cent last year to $685,000 — that’s a whopping $455,000 less than houses at neighbouring suburb Clayfield, where the median price is $1.14 million.

Nundah’s population also increased 16 per cent from 2011 to 2016, with an enviable median age of its 12,000-plus residents of 33, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Mr O’Brien said first-home buyers were targeting units while upgrading young couples or families were competing strongly for the dwindling number of timber and tin houses, often choosing to renovate them.

Buyers and renters were also selecting Nundah as their location of first choice these days – compared to the suburb playing second fiddle to locations closer to the city – especially if they were new migrants, he said.   

“They don’t know that Hamilton or Ascot is a better suburb,” he said.

Brisbane investor Noel Herbert bought a unit in Nundah in 2011 for $250,000 because of the suburb’s proximity to the city and airport as well as its shopping village precinct.

Nundah: Why it’s a Property Hotspot for Brisbane Singles - Investors Advisors
Units at Nundah have fallen in price, so they offer an incredibly affordable entry into the market for young buyers. Photo: Ray White Spring Hill

Not only has he witnessed its many positive changes in the past seven years, his unit also has been rented by the same couple the entire time.

“There has been an expansion of the village and the reinvigoration of the area due to the increased unit development and business activity associated with this,” he said.

“Nundah should progress nicely as a transport hub as well as the second runway adding value to the suburb with more workers wanting to live in the local area. 

“The tenants have remained over the years and have always treated it like their home, which it is. They have always paid on time and kept the place immaculate and hence we have replaced fixtures to update the unit for them. It’s all about mutual respect.”

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How will the Royal Commission affect the housing market?

When the banking Royal Commission was announced in December 2017, many commentators believed a large proportion of the final report would be on home loan lending.

In particular, the way the banks lend to home buyers as well as the amount. At its most extreme, there was speculation that someone on an $80,000 income would only be allowed to borrow $200,000.

The effects on lending

Anyone who has applied for a home loan since this time would have found how much harder it now is. As part of responsible lending, more information now has to be provided as to expenses, income and existing debts. While frustrating for some, it is a positive in ensuring that people don’t over borrow and get themselves into financial stress.

On we can see clearly that access to finance, as well as the cost of finance, is closely linked to search activity. For markets like Melbourne and Sydney, it led to a change in sentiment towards property as people found it harder to get loans.

For Perth, a market that was starting to recover in 2017, it derailed the recovery and led to further price falls in 2018. Although property fundamentals are overall positive in these market (i.e. population and jobs growth are looking pretty solid), less money available affected the market.

While the impact of the Royal Commission on the market will be minimal from this point forward, the way that you get a loan may change. At the moment, over half of all people applying for a home loan do so through a mortgage broker. One of the biggest announcements in the Royal Commission was that trailing commissions should be abolished, and instead be replaced by an upfront fee paid by the person applying for the loan.

At this stage, the Morrison Government has rejected the upfront fee model and instead recommended that the banks pay this fee. So for now, you can still use a mortgage broker without paying an upfront fee, but this may change.

What happens next?

With the Royal Commission out the way, where to now for residential property? It is possible that access to finance will continue to ease up.

In 2018, APRA removed the cap on the number of interest only loans that banks could provide; a restriction they put in place in 2017. They also removed the speed limit imposed on how much banks could increase their lending to investors. This move was implemented in 2014 and restricted investor lending growth to 10% per annum.

The risks around investors borrowing too much seem to have passed.

The next big hurdle for property will be the Federal Election, expected to be held in May 2019. With greater certainty now around access to finance, the outcome of this will give us an idea as to how tax incentives for investors will be handled from that point forward.

Best case, we are looking at far more stable conditions for the second half of the year.

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Sydney’s most popular suburbs for house hunters, and where to look instead

Property prices may be falling across Sydney, but the city’s most popular suburbs are still out of reach for many.

Of the most searched suburbs in Sydney, many have a median house price above $2 million and an apartment median above $900,000.

Paddington, Mosman, Manly and Coogee were among the most popular suburbs searched on Domain in recent months.

“These are suburbs with brand names,” said buyer’s agent and OH Property Group principal Henny Stier. “People look at these suburbs … because it’s a brand they know.”

While these go-to suburbs were popular for a reason, Ms Stier said many house hunters used them as a starting point and extended their search from there.

“Buyers gravitate towards searching in those suburbs … but don’t necessarily end up buying there,” she said. Ms Stier noted similar, but more affordable, lifestyles could often be found in neighbouring “bridesmaid suburbs” and also further afield.

So where else should you look?

Most Popular Suburbs in Sydney for House Hunters - Investors Advisors
Surry Hills is one of the most popular suburbs for people to search for a home in.

Surry Hills
House price: 
$1.785 million

Popular alternative: Redfern – $1.386 million
But how about: Erskineville – $1,305,251

“Erskineville is a good place to focus on, if you like that Surry Hills, villages, kind of lifestyle,” said Rose and Jones buyer’s agent Lauren Goudy.

It has cafes, restaurants and bars, and plenty more can be found on Newtown’s King Street, just a short walk away. It had a similar feel and lots of terraces, Ms Goudy added, and while it was further from the city, the CBD was less than a 10-minute train ride away.

She added the inner west had seen greater price falls than Surry Hills, with the latest Domain data showing Erskineville’s median house price dropped 8.7 per cent over the year to December, while house prices in Surry Hills went up 10.2 per cent.

Most Popular Suburbs in Sydney for House Hunters - Investors Advisors
Erskineville has a similar village feel to Surry Hills and terraces aplenty. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

House price: $3.76 million

Popular alternatives: Cremorne – $2.7 million, Northbridge – $3.26 million, Cammeray – $1.975 million
But how about: Willoughby – $2.15 million

While it doesn’t have the same beach and water access as Mosman, Flint Property director and buyers agent Brooke Flint said Willoughby was popular among family buyers looking for a similar lifestyle at a more affordable price.

“The suburb has [almost] everything Mosman has, it doesn’t have the beach, but because it’s still so close families will buy there – from an affordability perspective, it offers more value for money,” Ms Flint said.

She added when house hunting it was better for buyers to cast the net wide and focus on a set of criteria of what they wanted in a home or suburb, rather than specific places.

“Often people have a dream suburb that they look in and then get smashed over their head with the reality of what they can afford and start being more realistic,” she said.

Most Popular Suburbs in Sydney for House Hunters - Investors Advisors
Willoughby is a good option for those who are priced out of Mosman but want a similar lifestyle.

House price: 
$1.89 million

Popular alternatives: Rozelle – $1.585 million, Lilyfield – $1.755 million, Annandale – $1.66 million
But how about: Haberfield – $1.945 million

Its median house price is higher, but Haberfield buyers get a lot more space for their money, making it a good switch for families, says Ms Flint.

“I think what attracts people to Haberfield is that there’s a very European influence to the suburb. It’s got a strong Italian community, the high street has got some beautiful, authentic restaurants.”

For public transport it’s got the light rail and the bus, however it has fewer shops than Balmain and there’s no pub.

“It’s more of a life-cycle move, it’s the step for couples in Balmain or looking around there who are looking for a family home,” she says.

Most Popular Suburbs in Sydney for House Hunters - Investors Advisors The two-bedroom semi-detached house at 10 boomerang Street, Haberfield, NSW, sold for $1.73 million.
For those looking for a family home, Haberfield is a good alternative to Balmain, experts say.

House price:
 $2.505 million

Popular alternative: Darlinghurst – $1.876 million
But how about: Bondi Junction – $2.1 million

It’s hardly a suburb that flies under the radar, but Bondi Junction gets the attention of far fewer house hunters than Paddington. While only one suburb away, less than half the number of people searched for property in Bondi Junction in recent months than Paddington.

Thanks to the huge Westfield at its centre, it’s best known for shopping but it’s also got plenty of cafes, restaurants and public transport options.

Though dominated by apartments, which make up more than 60 per cent of homes, there are still about 1200 houses and terraces scattered across the suburb, which saw its median house price drop 5.3 per cent last year, while Paddington’s increased 8.9 per cent.

Ms Goudy said that with declining house prices, traditionally blue-chip suburbs were offering better value than they had in years gone by.

She noted that if people had their heart set on a specific area that wasn’t completely out of reach, there was no harm in waiting for prices to fall further. “I would be more inclined to be patient to see what comes up in your areas, but the market is going to improve [at some point],” she added.

Most Popular Suburbs in Sydney for House Hunters - Investors Advisors
Bondi Junction has a median house price of $2.1 million.

House price: $2.13 million

Popular alternatives: Woolooware – $1.75 millionCaringbah – $1.055 million
But how about: 
Kirrawee – $1.05 million

Wedged between Gymea and Sutherland, Kirrawee is seeing great change, with the suburb’s old brick pit site transformed into a new development  The South Village. While not to everyone’s taste, there’s no denying it will transform the neighbourhood — bringing a new shopping centre, restaurants, cafes and amenities to the area.

Ms Flint said Kirrawee’s affordability made it appealing to young families. She noted the suburb offered very good value compared to Cronulla, was still a short car ride to the beach and had some nice, quiet tree-lined streets.

Other popular suburbs and where the experts say you should also look: 

Randwick – $2.35 million
Try:  Maroubra – $1.8 million, Rosebery – $1.64 million, Little Bay – $1.75 million

Marrickville – $1.32 million
Try: Earlwood – $1.35 million

Newtown – $1.345 million
Try: Enmore – $1.32 million, Erskineville – $1,305,251, Alexandria $1.433 million

Manly – $2,980,500
Try: Balgowlah – $1,937,500, Fairlight – $2,328,500

Coogee – $2.45 million
Try: Maroubra – $1.8 million

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‘Rivers of gold’ dry up: Chinese New Year likely to be flat for property

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This Chinese New Year is expected to pass with a fizz rather than a bang for Australian property, with experts warning that “rivers of gold” have all but dried up.

It would continue a string of lacklustre golden weeks, where Chinese investment interest has fallen well below its peak in the 2015-16 financial year.

Chinese activity on the international investment portal Investorist has been low, which is abnormal for the lead-up to the Chinese New Year, the site’s founder Jon Ellis said.

“Typically what we see with Chinese New Year is a few weeks before there’s a big spike in activity on our platform. This year it’s been flat,” he said.

Mr Ellis put the slump down to the departure of Chinese speculative investors from the Australian market, due to tight capital controls imposed by the Chinese government and a raft of Australian taxes on offshore buyers.

Rivers of Gold |Chinese New Year to be Flat for Property - Investors Advisors
Agents say there’s still Chinese money getting about in Australia, but it’s just more under the radar. Photo: iStock

“The trend we’ve noticed is there are no longer speculative Chinese buyers coming in,” he said. “There are still Chinese people buying property if they have migration plans, if they have education plans. The straight investor is gone.”

Carrie Law, the chief executive of, another Chinese-focused investment portal, said deteriorating US-China relations were helping the Australian market but demand was likely to hold steady rather than pick up.

“You could see investors at the airport in Shanghai getting out of the line for the flight to LA and getting in line for the flight to Sydney,” she said.

“Because of its deep market and long-term stability, Australia is a natural alternative for a certain class of property buyer, who would have been seeking those same benefits in the USA.”

The Australian dollar was down about 5 per cent on the yuan, which was helping Chinese buyers justify purchases, Ms Law said.

“If it falls another 2 or 3 per cent, that completely erases the cost of the foreign buyer stamp duty, which tops out at 7 to 8 per cent, depending on the state.”

But despite this, the outlook continued to be less than ideal.

“Some people in the industry feel that 2018 could be the year that Chinese demand stops falling and starts to recover,” said Ms Law. “Our conservative forecast is for flat demand, which is an improvement over last year’s decline.”

Interest from high net worth Chinese investors has been increasing in the commercial property sector instead of housing, and demand was steady in the very top end of the residential market, Black Diamondz Property director Monika Tu said.

“It looks like it’s a growing portion of Chinese investors [looking at commercial property],” Ms Tu said.

“These are newcomers, first-timers.”

Kay & Burton’s Jamie Mi agreed buyers were concentrating on the top end of the market, taking demand away from investment-grade properties.

“The activity in terms of volume won’t be a significant as before but now [they’re] talking about the top end of the market,” she said.

“It just seems more under the radar these days.”

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For sale: Australia’s best off-grid properties

No bills, a low carbon footprint and plenty of serenity — it might sound like a pipe dream to many city slickers, but a sustainable lifestyle is possible with the right property.

Across Australia, it is estimated that over half a million homes are “off-grid” when it comes to water supply and more than 11 million solar panels have been installed on rooftops around the country.

But while a growing number of homeowners in urban areas are looking for ways to make their metropolitan properties more sustainable, there are loads of homes in rural (and not so rural) regions that are completely off the grid — and that means you can say goodbye to nasty bills.

These eco-friendly houses can be big bold and beautiful with million dollar plus price tags, or affordable cabin style retreats with heaps of potential.

Here are 10 of the best off-grid homes on the market right now that are ideal for a calming tree change lifestyle, or even a getaway with the scope to starting a side hustle through short term rentals.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

71ha of natural beauty with 500 year old grass trees.

Congewai, NSW

Price: $1.27 million to $1.35 million

Sitting between the Watagans National Park and the Corrabare State Forest, this wonderland is 71ha of natural beauty with 500-year old grass trees, gums, fruit trees, hibiscus and orchids. There is a four-bedroom, two bathroom barn style home on site that offers a low carbon lifestyle with solar power that includes a four-day battery storage system, two large water tanks and grey water irrigation.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

This Lune River home is a great summer escape.

Lune River, Tasmania

Price: More than $150,000

Cheap as chips, but great for the environment. This summer escape includes a one-bedroom cabin on 3611sq m. The completely off-grid property does have access to town power and the phone at the boundary if desired, but to be fully disconnected from the hum drum the place also has a wood stove for heating and cooking as well as productive gardens, a dam, chicken coops and a nearby river for fishing.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

The 40ha estate is known as Flatrock Forest Farm.

Milton, NSW

Price: $1.175 million

At this country retreat it is as simple as turning up and switching off. The 40ha estate known as Flatrock Forest Farm is an off-grid sustainable property with a three-bedroom timber cottage featuring a stone fireplace, a saltwater pool and spa plus a guest cottage. On site there is an orchard, a solar power system and when it comes to water you are spoiled for choice with a dam, four tanks and a creek.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

Built with Kangaroo Island stone.

Address: Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Price: On application

Overlooking the peaceful Pelican Lagoon, this 7.68ha sustainable property is secluded but brimming with wildlife. Built with Kangaroo Island stone, the designer home has created to blend the inside with the local environment. In addition to all the mod cons inside, the property has passive solar with battery storage, a back up generator, wind turbine and four huge water tanks.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

This island home is surrounded by 16ha of usable land.

French Island, Victoria

Price: On application

An island home surrounded by 16ha of usable land, this hideaway features a three-bedroom house with wood heater, solar hot water, off-grid power which includes a wind turbine, and there is a battery bank to store electricity. Live even more sustainably with your own water supply, veggie patch and cattle yards.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

Nubeena, Tasmania

Price: More than $1.4 million

It may be on Roaring Beach Rd, but this secluded spot is far from the sounds of the city. There are two properties selling at the same time totalling 5.75ha. Wingrove House is a rustic homestead built by the craftsman owner and is hidden in its own forest with a few modern comforts such as a tennis court, workshops and a sauna. The adjoining land is a 4.5ha block surrounded by bushland close to the beach.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

Chance to reduce your footprint.

Hilton, Western Australia

Price: Mid $300,000s

Reduce your footprint with this solar sustainable home 22km from the centre of Perth. The one-bedroom cabin style house is powered by an off grid solar system with storage batteries and an underwater rain storage system. Made from recycled materials, it has high cathedral ceilings, great cross flow ventilation and sits on its own 300sq m survey-strata lot with no fees.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

In the same family for more than 50 years.

Mangrove Mountain, NSW

Price: On application

So off the grid, this property has its own private road. It has been in the same family for more than 50 years and while there is a charming settler’s cottage on site it does come with DA approved plans to build a four-bedroom homestead. There are established orchards, cottage gardens, grazing land, a large catchment dam and a bushland backdrop all on 74ha.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors

This off-grid two-bedroom has a battery-powered solar system.

Address: Wingham, NSW

Price: $425,000

This handcrafted home on 163ha in the Manning Valley was built with timber from the actual property and stone from a nearby quarry. The off-grid two-bedroom, two bathroom property has a battery-powered solar system with gas cooking and hot water and views over the natural bushland and mountains.


Australia’s Off-Grid Properties for Sale -Investors Advisors
 A solar passive home with valley views.

A solar passive home with valley views.

Lower Chittering, Western Australia

Price: $749,000


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Tucked away beyond fields of wildflowers and tall timber, this 35ha estate is a sustainable home in the heart of the Chittering Valley. It is a solar passive home with valley views and is made from straw bale and timber, double glazed windows, a waterless composting toilet, wood fire hot water system, three water tanks, vegetable beds, fruit trees and a chicken run.

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