One of the big questions homebuyers and investors want to know is which are the best Illawarra suburbs to buy property in, especially as prices won’t be heading south anytime soon.
A number of local real estate agents discuss which areas are good value and in hot demand.
Vanessa Denison-Pender of One Agency said anywhere within a 10 minute drive of Wollongong’s central business district was extremely popular.
“You can still get good quality homes from $800,000 to $1 million close to schools, shops, transport and the beach,” Ms Denison-Pender said.
“Due to Wollongong's many new and varied restaurants, bars, retail mix and of course university, [it] has become more like Sydney than ever before and is a big draw card for new buyers.
“In 15 years, I've never seen more buyers anxious to get out of Sydney. The actual words they use are 'please help us we're desperate'.”
Trever Molenaar of McGrath singled out Fairy Meadow and Mount Saint Thomas to be highly sought after this year because of their proximity to Wollongong as well as their relative affordability compared to the surrounding suburbs.
He also added Oak Flats would be in demand because “anything affordable near water is always a safe bet”.
Mr Molenaar also attested to Sydney buyers coming to the region in droves and said in some instances they accounted for up to 70 per cent of attendance rates at some auctions and open homes.
However Rolk Lokker of AM Rutty in North Wollongong somewhat disagreed and wanted to reassure local buyers they weren’t necessarily getting pushed out of their own area.
“Our local market is still experiencing a strong ripple effect as many Sydney buyers are being priced out of their market,” Mr Lokker said.
“I wouldn’t say Sydney buyers are dominating the market though; our data suggests local buyers still have a very strong presence.”
Belle Property Wollongong’s Darren Kay said local residents accounted for half of his sales, though conceded the force of “out-of-area” buyers did have an influence on pricing.
“As well as enjoying a coastal lifestyle, large, modern homes can be purchased within walking distance to infrastructure and beaches for similar prices with the commute to Sydney being relatively the same,” Mr Kay said.
SUBURBS ON THE RISE
Working class suburbs on the rise are Port Kembla and Russell Vale in the north, according to Simon Kersten of Colliers International Wollongong.
“There are still many lovely old homes (many red brick) on large level blocks in Port Kembla … especially around its beaches,” Mr Kersten said.
“Russel Vale is sandwiched in between popular Corrimal and Woonona, it’s only a matter of time before prices rise to meet the neighbouring suburbs.
“Again, many older homes on large blocks that are ripe for renovation or redevelopment.”
Mr Kay liked Kanahooka as an up-and-comer due to the regeneration of the lake and continuing upgrade of Dapto, suggesting it is an ideal location for young families.
Investors looking for commercial property to snap up should focus around Wollongong’s central business district, according to one real estate expert.
Travis Machan from MMJ Wollongong said he is pleased with the “strong activity” he’s seen so far this year, with the market picking up again after Australia Day.
“Commercial and retail properties with a value of $2 million and offering a lease are highly sought after and therefore selling quite quickly,” Mr Machan said.
He said anywhere around the CBD would “always be a safe investment”.
Mr Machan said important attributes to look for in commercial property include:
- Versatility – will the property suit a wider range of commercial applications;
- Parking – more the better, or be in close proximity to public transport or a parking station;
- Zoning – is the zoning restrictive or too specific;
- Yield/return – ensure that rental is considered to be a market rate;
- Strength of tenancy – single or multiple tenants, do your research on how they are performing; and
- Value add – is there further development possible. Increase in size and/or better use of the property.
The Illawarra isn’t the only area attracting a flood of Sydney buyers, according to Di Jones Real Estate.
Value and lifestyle are attracting young families to the Southern Highlands as well as those seeking a weekender with CEO Rob Ward seeing much interest from Sydney buyers in Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale.
“In the Southern Highlands, the entry-level property market extends from $350,000 to $1 million,” Mr Ward said.
“With the NBN now available ... many run their own business from home or are negotiating flexible working arrangements with their Sydney employers.”