No longer on the nose

Mal­abar’s young fam­ily boom


THERE used to be a whiff of snob­bish dis­dain about the south­east­ern sub­urb of Mal­abar, house prices dragged down by a poo pipe and prox­im­ity to Long Bay jail.

“When I was young — and I’m talk­ing 40 or 50 years ago — it was one of those places you didn’t re­ally want to live in,” says the deputy mayor of Rand­wick, Danny Said, who grew up in the neigh­bour­ing sub­urb of Ma­trav­ille.

“Pi­o­neer Park was a rub­bish dump, the sewage went straight into the sea and you had the jail.”

But since the 1990s, out­falls have re­moved the sewage from Mal­abar Bay and trees sur­round the jail.

“You wouldn’t even know it’s there,” said Cr Said, 55, who loves Ma­trav­ille so much he’s stayed, first buy­ing a town­house and then a house where he and his wife still live.

Young fam­i­lies from Rand­wick and Coogee have been mi­grat­ing to both sub­urbs in droves, crav­ing the homes on big blocks and rel­a­tive af­ford­abil­ity.

And that’s pushed up house prices as­tro­nom­i­cally in Mal­abar and Ma­trav­ille over the past five years — with more growth in that pe­riod than in Coogee and Rand­wick, ac­cord­ing to CoreLogic.

Over the year, as the me­dian value of Syd­ney houses has fallen 8.43 per cent, in Mal­abar they’ve risen 10.3 per cent.

“Peo­ple are get­ting priced out of the more de­sir­able eastern sub­urbs,” Real es­ econ­o­mist Nerida Con­is­bee said. “Cer­tainly there’s a rip­ple ef­fect.”

The ex­tra­or­di­nary growth has been a boon for Mal­abar home­own­ers Cather­ine and Christo­pher Reitz.

Mrs Reitz (nee Bar­clay) was in Aus­tralia’s Olympic ten­nis squad when she met Dr Reitz, then on the Ger­man field hockey team, at the 2000 Syd­ney Games.

They mar­ried in 2003 and bought their five-bed­room home at 27 Nix Ave for $953,000 in 2005. It’s now up for De­cem­ber 1 auc­tion through McGrath Coogee agents An­gus Gor­rie and Ni­cholas Wise with a guide of $2.1 mil­lion.

“You can get a semi in Rand­wick for $2.5 mil­lion or a free­stand­ing house in Mal­abar on 700sqm for about $2 mil­lion,” Mr Gor­rie said. De­spite the tough mar­ket, he’s get­ting 28 groups though the Reitz open house.

Cather­ine and Chris Reitz with kids Matilda and Mar­cus in their Mal­abar house. Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn

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