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2024’s property hotspots revealed as buyers prioritise lifestyle factors

By Mo Zeitouneh

With houses and apartments in the combined capitals both smashing their way to price records nationally, agents behind the scenes are detecting major demographic trends propelling markets ever upwards.

In Melbourne, the city still in the earliest stages of price recovery, a rush of international buyers looking for a great Australian lifestyle has helped propel annual unit gains to a two-year high with a 4 per cent gain over the year, according to the latest Domain House Report for the last quarter of 2023. Although house prices have risen only 0.9 per cent in the quarter, that’s still the sharpest lift in two years.

“We’re seeing so many buyers coming from overseas, both expats returning from New Zealand, England, America and Canada, as well as Chinese buyers,” said RT Edgar director Jeremy Fox. “They’re tending to choose the inner-city areas too, as they’re looking for good schools, restaurants and cafes.

“They’re also choosing renovated houses because the costs of renovating are so high.”

Buyers are looking to suburbs with good schools, cafes and renovated houses. Photo: Greg Briggs

Those trends are also noted by Marcus Chiminello, director of Marshall White. “A lot of international buyers are coming in, particularly for the holiday season for Chinese New Year,” he said. “It does feel as though there will be more listings coming onto the market than last year.

“But the buyers want to act now before the market becoming more buoyant, particularly if money gets cheaper with interest rate cuts.”

Similarly, lifestyle areas of Sydney – where house prices have hit a record high after a 2 per cent jump in the quarter – are currently the hottest markets. These include the eastern suburbs, inner city, inner west and lower north shore.

“We’re seeing cashed-up downsizers moving to areas with lots of lifestyle amenities,” said Vicki Laing, managing director of Laing Real Estate. “For younger people, with the rental crisis, where we’re getting as many as 40 people at each unit inspection, we’re seeing mums and dads helping them to buy as they don’t want them to move back home.

“There are more old rentals coming onto the sales market too, with landlords wanting to sell and investors not coming into the market.”

Buyers are coming back to the market and are ready to transact. Photo: Vaida Savickaite

Supply levels are still a significant problem everywhere, however, with the anticipated increase in stock not yet arriving and continued strong demand pushing prices further up. “Week by week, there is more coming on, but stock levels are still not what we were expecting in the inner west yet,” said Frederico Fraga-Matos of BresicWhitney.

“There’s not a lot in each category for buyers. But they’re looking for lifestyle, schools, hospitals, restaurants and proximity to the city. We’re seeing demand from every demographic, with a lot of families looking for more space and first home buyers trying to get into the market.”

Brisbane house prices have also reached a new high after a 3.7 per cent quarterly rise, and apartments too, with a 3.9 per cent jump over the same period.

“We’re seeing so many interstate movers, making up around 25 per cent of our market, and with that strong demand and low supply, we’re seeing some record prices,” said Meagan Muir of Place Estate Agents, Brisbane.

“They’re all looking for areas that offer a good lifestyle, with lots of infrastructure, good schools and restaurants, and there’s been a big uplift along the eastern corridor.”

Agents say there is still a lack of supply in the market. Photo: Vaida Savickaite

The number of buyers is also being swollen by expats coming home and more overseas interest and recognition as the 2032 Olympics approach, believes Hamish Bowman of Hamish Bowman Properties. He points to Brisbane being named in the New York Times’ travel hotlist for 2024 and the Fortitude Valley’s Calile Hotel appearing in The World’s 50 Best Hotels list in 2023.

“Brisbane always used to be the poor cousin to Sydney and Melbourne but now we’re more of the junior sibling,” Bowman said. “A lot of people are buying second homes here too. Of a development of high-end apartments in New Farm, 60 per cent have sold to regional buyers wanting a bolthole in the city.”

New apartment price records have also been struck in Canberra, with a 3.5 per cent price rise in the quarter, while house prices have seen the same size drop. “Units are performing really strongly at entry level,” said Duncan Walker of LJ Hooker Belconnen. “Their prices are competing with rents, so why not buy? House buyers are proving more cautious, however, and waiting to see what interest rates will do.”


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