ON THE MOVE
What’s luring Melbourne homebuyers out of the big smoke?
HOMEBUYERS are being lured beyond the city limits to towns and suburbs that offer greater affordability, a relaxed lifestyle and an easy commute to Melbourne.
New figures reveal that areas within about a 100km radius of the city are enjoying a property price boom as improved transport links broaden the appeal of living outside Melbourne’s suburbs.
But while home prices are on the march in areas including Geelong, Barwon Heads, Ballarat, Bendigo and Seymour, these regional hubs remain relatively affordable compared to buying in the big smoke.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria figures show a median priced house in metropolitan Melbourne will set buyers back $706,000. In Geelong, where the median price soared 21.5 per cent in the year to June, the median house price is $580,000.
In the Geelong suburb of Waurn Ponds, the median house price has jumped 22.9 per cent to $513,000, and the prestige coastal market of Barwon Heads has seen prices climb 19.3 per cent to $811,000.
Other areas to see significant growth in the year to June include South Gippsland, (17.1 per cent), New Gisborne in the Macedon Ranges (13.3 per cent) and Epsom on the outskirts of Bendigo (12.5 per cent). Melbourne’s median price grew 6.3 per cent in the same period.
“The gains we’ve seen in Melbourne now appear to be flowing to areas further from the CBD, with many more Melburnians looking for a country lifestyle with the benefits of being able to travel to and from the CBD for work,” REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said.
Commuting has become easier since V/Line trains switched to the Regional Rail Link in June, a key piece of infrastructure designed to ease rail congestion. While travel times have remained steady, commuter trains now run every 10 minutes during peak times and at 20-minute intervals offpeak on the Geelong line. The line has also been extended to Waurn Ponds.
PRD Nationwide, Geelong, director Laurie McGovan, said many Melbourne buyers were now heading to Geelong.
“Geelong has that feel about it that it’s close enough to town but far enough away that they can provide a better lifestyle for their family,” he said.
Mr McGovan said Geelong was attractive because it had everything families needed.
“For a lot of people coming out of Melbourne the housing is still affordable,” he said.
He said young families especially were seeing the financial sense in selling their small city property and upgrading to a larger but more affordable home in Geelong.
RT Edgar, Macedon Ranges, director Rick Lander said towns along the Bendigo rail corridor, including Gisborne, New Gisborne, Woodend, Kyneton and Malmsbury, had performed well in the past three years.
He said that about 70 per cent of entry-level buyers were from outside the area, climbing to 87 per cent for properties worth more than $1 million.
The REIV figures show New Gisborne prices climbed 13.3 per cent to $575,000, while Woodend prices increased 6.1 per cent to $605,000.
“It is value for money as well as lifestyle,” Mr Lander said.
“Buying a little 200sq m terrace or something in Collingwood, Carlton, Northcote, Brunswick, Yarraville or Seddon, perhaps is going to be $800,000-plus and they’ll have to do a fair bit of work to it.
“For $800,000, they can come up here and buy something on an acre, (with) four or five bedrooms that’s relatively new and good looking and they can move straight into the home. We’ve got great schools, great facilities, railway stations everywhere.”
Mr Raimondo said the ripple effect was good news for sellers in these areas, which in the past had experienced single digit quarterly growth.
“Buyers are looking for two things: affordability and lifestyle,” he said.
“Both these factors seem to be more and more important for buyers, as they look further afield for homes that meet their needs.”
While the ripple effect is pushing out, new research has shown the Melbourne Metro project is set to boost prices in inner suburbs like Albert Park, South Melbourne and Parkville.
A study by Stiabhna BakerHolland and Jodie Walker, of Secret Agent, into the potential effect of the project on prices showed suburbs already on train lines tended to have higher growth.
The report found while the proposed Domain, Arden and Parkville stations were relatively close to the CBD and tram lines, their nearest train stations were currently quite a distance away. Therefore these areas were likely to see greater price growth from the addition of Melbourne Metro train stations, the report concluded.