There’s value on the fringes

The Weekend Post - Real Estate - - Front Page -

ONE of the many perks of the world of Fox­tel, other than the won­der­ful, in­spir­ing peo­ple I work with, the Christ­mas party and the tick­ets to the Lo­gies, is that I get to travel all over Aus­tralia look­ing at houses.

In my trav­els, I see con­sid­er­able di­ver­sity but I also ob­serve a con­sid­er­able num­ber of hous­ing mar­ket pat­terns that seem to ap­ply wher­ever I go.

One el­e­ment of hous­ing ev­ery­one seeks is good value for money.

One way we equate value for money with our home re­lates to size.

It makes per­fect sense; if you have man­aged to ac­quire a larger home and block for the same money as a smaller com­pa­ra­ble home, you feel good.

Now that com­pa­ra­ble up­size usu­ally comes at a lo­ca­tion cost. That makes sense.

It might not be such an aes­thet­i­cally at­trac­tive area, or be fur­ther from ameni­ties or blighted by poor per­form­ing schools (yes, it can have a value im­pact) or noise from a ma­jor road or air­port.

What­ever it maybe, this usu­ally feels like a lo­ca­tion com­pro­mise.

You can ar­rive back to your new home or sit in your new back yard telling your friends the move was so worth­while as you now have a but­ler’s pantry big­ger than your ac­tual kitchen, a three-car garage even though you only have two cars and a main bed­room so big you’re con­sid­er­ing bed­room sub­di­vi­sion and join­ing an online rent-a-room web­site, but what if the size up­grade you want is out­side?

If the size of the home doesn’t need to be man­sion-like, the other way to feel value for money is by ac­quir­ing land: just pure space.

The clear pat­tern I of­ten see across Aus­tralia is the value of­fered by acreage sub­urbs.

Yes, ameni­ties may be a lit­tle fur­ther away and you might have to buy a ride-on mower, although many would con­sider that a se­ri­ous plus point, but in my ex­pe­ri­ence the move to acreage al­ways seems like a trade up. Yet price wise, there is very lit­tle dif­fer­ence to the sim­i­lar-sized sub­ur­ban home in dwelling terms and un­like the big home in Com­pro­mi­seville you sit in this back yard smil­ing, and when you ar­rive home you feel you have value for money.

Acreage across Aus­tralia is of­ten un­der­val­ued; in fact, in some parts of the coun­try it is that cheap you could lit­er­ally sell up in subur­bia, give up seven days a week work, go part-time and grow your own ve­g­ies. That is the ex­treme, of course, but acreage and high price tags are rare.

Now, it’s not for ev­ery­one. My fam­ily, in­clud­ing my three daugh­ters, tried it; we had 6.47ha, a mas­sive hill­side, an 800m un­sealed drive­way, the most beau­ti­ful views, five min­utes from subur­bia and a gor­geous house. We loved it.

What went wrong was we had no real use for the land, no ponies, no chooks, no kids want­ing to ride minibikes, no hob­bies that needed space.

The fact was, as a fam­ily, we didn’t need the space, al­beit our choice was a bit of an ex­treme.

It seems that if you look a lit­tle fur­ther out, are pre­pared to drive a few kilo­me­tres up that hill, dare to travel no more than 10 to 15 min­utes from the sub­urbs, you can po­ten­tially dis­cover a very af­ford­able home that does not feel like a com­pro­mise and will feel like you’ve got value for money.

The en­try-level homes may be a lit­tle dated, fea­ture pine cladding in abun­dance, vast amounts of brick and a pri­vate sep­tic drainage sys­tem that’s best not to stand down­wind from on a hot sunny day, but all these neg­a­tives are easy fixes to un­der­take over time.

Acreage buy­ing means space. It could also mean, in many in­stances, the chance to build some­thing, per­haps a sec­ondary dwelling for ex­tended fam­ily, rent­ing out or just to house your an­noy­ing teens/young adults.

From Perth to Dar­win, Bris­bane to Ade­laide, the Gold Coast and Tas­ma­nia, ac­ces­si­ble, not iso­lated, acreage is rea­son­ably priced and of­ten pos­si­ble from the $400,000s to $500,000s for the tired, old homes that need re­mod­elling.

Even Mel­bourne has en­trylevel acreage prop­erty as close as 40km from the CBD start­ing in the $600,000s.

While many mea­sure con­ve­nience with dis­tance to the near­est big-city CBD, many of us don’t ac­tu­ally work in the CBD nor have a daily need to go there, and in the big cities many sources of em­ploy­ment are ac­tu­ally on the outer fringes or in sub­ur­ban lo­ca­tions.

Acreage can be near schools, 10 min­utes from shops and it can come com­plete with stun­ning nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments, peace and pri­vacy. I call that value for money.

So if you are plan­ning a move, maybe head out of the city and see what your prop­erty dol­lar could buy. You may be very sur­prised.

LIFESTYLE CHOICE: If you are plan­ning a move and want for money, maybe it’s time to head out of the city.

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