“You can be at two major train stations in a two-minute drive or a 10-15 minute walk,” she says. “There are lots of restaurants, lots of coffee shops. We probably made a good investment.”
The fall in prices has put more suburbs deemed liveable – those with a low crime rate, below-average unemployment and amenities such as schools, shopping and health facilities within a 5km radius – in the realm of pricing deemed affordable, according to PRDnationwide’s latest Affordability Hotspots report, to be released on Thursday.
Of course, in a city such as Sydney, the change is only slight. The proportion of “liveable” suburbs in the NSW capital with a median housing price of $500,000 or less in the first three quarters rose to 0.9 per cent of the city’s total – nearly double the 0.5 per cent figure of six months earlier.
And it hasn’t been that way across the board. The share of liveable Sydney suburbs priced between $1 million and $2 million – in Ms Collins’ price band – actually fell from 55.5 per cent to 51.6 per cent over the same time.
In Melbourne, liveable homes in the lowest price band rose to 7.4 per cent of all suburbs from 4 per cent. And in lower-priced Brisbane, the share of suburbs with liveable and affordable housing priced under $500,000 widened to 43.6 per cent from 39.8 per cent, the report shows.
But the price recovery since the May federal election also means the improvement in affordability will reverse, said Asti Mardiasmo, PRDnationwide’s chief economist.
“It’s not a permanent thing,” Dr Mardiasmo said. “Markets are starting to recover.”
The six-monthly report measures suburbs through the lenses of affordability, liveability and potential to gain in value. It considers only suburbs within a 20km radius of the CBD (10km for Hobart and Canberra) with a median price that is not too much of a premium to the average state mortgage loan value.
The suburbs also have to have a below-average vacancy rate or above-average rental yield and a level of development under way that will boost property values further.
It’s a complicated mix of housing market and infrastructure spending that has benefited many buyers. Over the last half of this year, for example, buyers in Croydon Park, around where Ms Collins has bought, will benefit from $18.1 million worth of mixed-use development due to begin.
Ms Collins is one of many newcomers drawn to the Croydon Park area in the past few years, says Frank Mazzotta, a PRDnationwide agent who sold Ms Collins her house – which had been his late parents’ home.
“McDonald’s opened up there, on Georges River Road,” he says. “It’s got to tell you something. If they’re going there they know something. They’ve got a bloody good research department.”
Other affordable and liveable suburbs highlighted in the report include Melbourne’s south-eastern suburb of Caulfield North, where the median unit price was $535,000. It was set to receive a capital injection worth $61.1 million in the second half of the year.
Price alone doesn’t make a suburb liveable or a good investment, however. That depends on factors such as infrastructure investment or low vacancy rates. And while Sydney and Melbourne had falling prices, they also have attractions for buyers that suburbs in other cities lack.
“In Hobart, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra, people have actually had to pay higher than the median capital city price to be able to find suburbs that can satisfy the liveability, the investment and future growth criteria,” Dr Mardiasmo said.