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What's really going on in the Sydney real estate market? Hotspotting's Terry Ryder


Media portrays Sydney as a market of universal and relentless decline, but our analysis shows there’s a lot more to the story. While sales activity and prices are down generally, there are many different scenarios playing out across the Greater Sydney Area.

In Hotspotting’s latest quarterly survey of sales activity, we can find only three suburbs where sales activity is trending higher, but there are 90 suburbs with steady, consistent sales and a similar number of plateau markets (where activity has dropped from the peak but remains at solid levels).

And there are 61 suburbs classified as decline markets and 14 which we regard as danger markets, with the Sydney City, Parramatta, Bayside and Canterbury-Bankstown LGAs heading the list of markets to avoid.

Our analysis of 416 suburban markets in the Greater Sydney Area shows that 77% of them have median prices lower than a year so, while 23% have higher prices. Given the negative sensation about Sydney in mainstream media, many people would be surprised to learn that there are 95 Sydney markets where prices are not falling.

That includes 36 where median prices have risen by more than 5%, led by the top end of the Sydney market (suburbs with median prices above $2 million). Suburbs with median house prices above $2 million have recorded trend-defying growth, including Bellevue Hill (up 17%), Vaucluse (15%), Collaroy (22%), Palm Beach (17%), Artarmon (28%), Abbotsford (16%), Darling Point (12%) and Neutral Bay (17%), among others.

In another interesting trend that defies the general media rhetoric, there are 44 suburbs where the median house price is down but the media apartment price is up. This reflects the reality that many of the Sydney markets where prices have continued to grow against the overall trend are apartment precincts – it’s not happening across the board, but it’s a significant sub-plot in the Sydney market.

Our analysis of the Sydney market shows why the generalisations prevalent in media are so misleading for consumers. This Autumn survey has given ratings to 258 Sydney suburbs: 3 rising, 90 plateau, 90 consistency, 61decline and 14 danger markets. The absence of growth markets and the dominance of struggling ones is the over-riding trend, but there are other stories to be told in the Sydney market.

The strongest precincts are those that are displaying stubborn consistency of sales activity in the face of the general downturn.

The Sutherland LGA has two of only three rising suburbs (Jannali and Kirrawee), as well as five plateau and four consistency suburbs. The median price for Jannali units has risen 22% in the past year, while Kirrawee houses are up 3%. It’s notable that median prices for units have risen in many Sutherland suburbs, including Caringbah, Cronulla, Caringbah South, Gymea and Miranda, as well as Jannali.

Other precincts that are showing solidity, with plenty of consistency and plateau suburbs (and no decline or danger markets), including LGAs at the more affordable end of the market like Blacktown, Camden, Penrith, Wollondilly and Campbelltown.

The Blacktown LGA has one rising, three plateau and 10 consistency suburbs. A characteristic of this market is that median prices are down, but only a few percent in most suburbs – including Plumpton (-2%), Ropes Crossing (-2.3%), Schofields (-1.2%), Marsden Park (-0.4%), Blacktown units (-2%) and Mt Druitt units (-2.8%).

Other solid markets include the LGAs of Inner west, Northern Beaches, North Sydney, Woollahra, Randwick and Fairfield.

Inner West suburbs where median prices are higher than a year ago include Annandale (units), Camperdown, Lilyfield, Rozelle (units), Dulwich Hill (units) and Stanmore (units).

Standout price performances in the steady Northern Beaches precinct include Collaroy, Narrabeen, Avalon Beach, Manly (units), Seaforth (units) and Newport (units).

The weakest precincts of the Sydney market are the LGAs of Parramatta, Sydney City, Bayside and Canterbury-Bankstown.

Parramatta has six suburbs which we classify as danger markets: those where sales activity is sharply down, prices are falling and vacancies are high. These suburbs are Carlingford, Epping, North Parramatta, Parramatta, Wentworth Point and Rosehill. This LGA also has six suburbs ranked as decline markets.

Median prices are down sharply for North Parramatta houses (20%), Parramatta houses (30%), and Rosehill units (22%).

Sydney City has seven declining suburbs and two danger markets (Haymarket and Waterloo).

The Canterbury-Bankstown LGA has nine suburbs classified as declining markets, based on a sharp decrease in sales activity over the past 12-18 months: Bankstown, Belmore, Campsie, Canterbury, Croydon Park, Lakemba, Padstow, Panania and Roselands.

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