Buy for $365,000 less: The cheapest and priciest pockets in every suburb revealed

A new analysis of the price differences within suburbs shows that a typical home buyer could save about $365,000 by searching in the most affordable parts of the suburb instead of the most expensive areas.

But in particularly exclusive enclaves, buyers pay a multi-million dollar premium to secure the best real estate in town, with the data highlighting just how much home values can vary in certain suburbs.

The PropTrack analysis of home values by SA1 regions — small neighbourhoods made up of a handful of streets and typically home to a few hundred residents — has revealed each suburb's most affluent area, as well as where homebuyers might find pockets of affordability.

Use the interactive below to find the priciest and most affordable pocket in your suburb.

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Properties in some of Australia’s most expensive pockets can be worth double the median value of their suburb, and in some cases, as much as 10 times more than homes in the suburb’s most affordable areas.

The data shows that homeowners in the priciest pockets often enjoy a waterfront or coastal location, take advantage of the views granted by their position at the highest point in town, or reside in their suburb’s largest and most luxurious properties.

Even in typical Aussie suburbs, big differences in property values reveal the premium that buyers are willing to pay for a blue-ribbon address.

Across Australia, the median difference between the lowest and highest SA1 median values is $365,000 for houses and $330,000 for units, but the variation is much higher in expensive suburbs, PropTrack senior economist Paul Ryan said.

“In some cases – particularly in premium suburbs – the difference between the most affordable and the most expensive parts of suburbs can be many millions of dollars,” he said.

The analysis shows that even if a suburb’s median value would suggest buyers need a multi-million budget to buy in, house hunters will always be able to find a pocket of relative affordability.

Australia’s priciest pockets uncovered

The most expensive neighbourhood in Australia is found in Vaucluse, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

While Vaucluse has a median home value of more than $9 million, a pocket of waterfront mansions with gunbarrel harbour views has a median value of about $15 million, demonstrating the value high-end buyers place on owning a slice of Australia’s most exclusive real estate.

A select part of Vaucluse is Australia's priciest pocket, with buyers prepared to pay millions more for a home with iconic views of Sydney Harbour. This luxury house on ultra-exclusive Queens Avenue sold for $39 million in October. Picture:

Proximity to some of Sydney’s best harbour beaches and most well-regarded schools is what draws wealthy executives and business owners to that pocket of Vaucluse, according to Bradfield Badgerfox director Alexander George.

“You also get some of the best views, some of the most renowned streets and some of the most beautiful family homes.”

“It's understandable why people gravitate there, it ticks all the boxes that a family would want.”

Buyers spending tens of millions of dollars in the most exclusive pockets of Vaucluse expect a certain level of luxury. This four-bedroom mansion sold for $36.2 million last year. Picture:

Buyers are prepared to pay millions more for harbour-facing houses that take in the view of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and city skyline, Mr George said.

“It’s called the iconic view,” he said. “It's hard to put a premium on it – we see premiums anywhere from 25-75%.” 

By contrast, the cheapest part of Vaucluse, where homes are a bit more humble, further from the water and may lack views, has a median value of $3.2 million – a difference of $11.8 million.

That huge price gap isn’t even the largest of all Australian suburbs. In Melbourne’s most expensive suburb, Toorak, the difference between the cheapest and most expensive neighbourhoods is almost $12.3 million.

The median price in Toorak's priciest pocket is seven times higher than the cheapest pocket in the suburb. This six-bedroom mansion on a 1400sqm block sold for almost $21 million last year. Picture:

The huge estates in the area bounded by Albany Road, Hopetoun Road and Toorak Road have a median value of $14.2 million.

Real estate agent and Forbes Global Properties director Michael Gibson said Toorak's convenient position in Melbourne's east allowed easy access to the CBD and prestigious schools, while the enormous landholdings in its priciest pockets offered buyers homes of an unrivalled scale.

"Toorak is renowned as Melbourne's premier suburb, and Albany Road and Hopetoun Road are beautiful wide tree-lined streets with many substantial residences, anywhere from 2000 to 7000 square metres," he said. "It is positioned well for many aspects of the lifestyle it affords."

25 Hopetoun Road Toorak

This six-bedroom Toorak mansion sold for about $19 million last year, while the house next door sold for about $13 million. Picture:

However, homes in a tiny pocket of Toorak abutting the train line in the suburb’s west are much more affordable than the rest of the suburb, with a median value of $1.95 million allowing people to buy in with a much smaller budget.

"They’re a lot smaller, the streets are a bit narrower and the houses are on 300 square metres, not 3000 square metres," Mr Gibson said.

With many wealthy buyers preferring larger properties, Mr Gibson said it was likely there would be less subdivisions and more amalgamations of properties in premium suburbs.

Most of the houses in the priciest pocket in Noosa Heads have direct water access. Picture:

Queensland’s priciest pocket isn’t found in the state’s capital, but at Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast. Waterfront mansions on and around Noosa Parade have a median value of $7.86 million, while the suburb’s most affordable pocket further from the water has a median value of $1.46 million.

In Perth’s Mosman Park, one pocket of mansions fronting the Swan River has a median value of about $6.76 million. Like in Vaucluse, properties with expansive water views have become a target for affluent buyers, many with knock-down rebuild plans, according to real estate agent William Porteous. 

In Mosman Park's most expensive pockets, multi-million dollar houses take advantage of expansive Swan River views. Picture:

“There’s little pockets that are perfect so they demand very high prices,” he said. “They’ve got enormous views overlooking the city and the river, and that's what's exciting.” 

Meanwhile, an affordable area on the other side of the suburb near the train station has a median of just $748,000, allowing buyers to purchase in the same postcode without the need for a huge mortgage.

Waterfront homes in Glenelg North sell for millions, like this $2.3 million house that was marketed as a development opportunity, but a few blocks back from the beach buyers can find much more affordable houses for about $800,000. Picture:

In South Australia, the priciest pocket in Glenelg North in Adelaide’s east has a median value of $3.26 million — about three times the suburb median — but just a few blocks back from the water the suburb’s cheapest pocket has a median value of $817,000, which is not all that much more than Adelaide’s median.

The suburbs with the priciest pockets for units are mostly found along the rivers, harbours and beaches of Australia’s capitals, where it’s normal for waterfront apartments to have multi-million price tags.

The huge price difference between pockets with water views and areas where apartments are smaller and less luxurious lets buyers access premium waterfront suburbs for a fraction of the price.

This pocket of New Farm in Brisbane has a median unit value of $2.63 million owing to an abundance of luxury waterfront apartments, like this one that sold last year. Just a few streets away, where there is a high proportion of one-bedroom apartments, the median unit value is just $398,000. Picture:

While properties in affordable parts of a suburb might not have the same views or proportions of homes in the priciest pockets, residents are still positioned to take advantage of the shared amenity of the wider suburb, such as schools, parks and shopping. 

Why property values vary so much within suburbs

Mr Ryan said a variety of factors influenced the variation in valuations within a suburb, including the amenity of the local area, infrastructure access and school zones. 

But fundamental differences like the size of a property, the type of housing and its geographical position played a major role.

“Every home is a package of where it is and what it is, and where it’s located matters enormously,” he said.

Water views or access have the most obvious effect on values, especially in already-expensive areas, with a waterfront position in an exclusive suburb typically adding millions to the neighbourhood median.

Even when water isn’t a factor, some pockets command higher prices when positioned to take advantage of a suburb’s best geographical features, such as parklands or hills offering an elevated position and views. Proximity to golf courses is a factor, too.

In some areas, simply a convenient position that shortens a commute or allows easy access to shops a local park could be what pushes prices higher.

Aerial view over Hyde Park - Perth, Western Australia

Proximity to parklands can contribute to higher home values. The cluster of homes around Perth's Hyde Park are the most valuable in the suburb. Picture: Getty

Buyer’s agent and chief executive Rich Harvey said many suburbs have a “golden triangle” where bigger blocks allow for more opulent homes, usually within easy reach of a suburb’s best amenities.

“It’s not always a triangle, but there's often several streets that are really premium,” he said.

“There's typically larger blocks, and premium grade properties – beautiful architect-designed homes that are extremely well maintained,” he said.

“Some of them might even be heritage but often they're more modern, super high quality builds, and they’ve generally got a commanding street presence.”

The size and scale of properties in pricey pockets is a major factor. Houses in pricey pockets tend to be larger and better appointed, and depending on the area, can offer all the modern luxuries of a newly-built home, or the heritage architecture of yesteryear that’s impossible to replicate.

11 Butler Avenue, Kellyville, NSW 2155

Homes in Kellyville's priciest pocket are among the newest and largest in the suburb. This five-bedroom house sold for $3.4 million last year. Picture:

Mr Ryan said values in the most recently-developed areas of newer suburbs tended to be higher, but in older suburbs, the opposite could be true.

For example, in Kellyville in Sydney’s northwest, which has developed over the past few decades, the priciest pocket is where the newest houses have been built, with buyers paying a premium to live in the most modern homes.

“Over time average house size has increased and that will be translating to values,” Mr Ryan said.

“Where there are new developments, new houses are more expensive than old houses.”

19 Logan Street, Canterbury, Vic 3126

In suburbs where development is restricted, property values are often highest in pockets where older homes have been preserved for their heritage value. Picture:

But in older suburbs like Newtown and Annandale in Sydney’s inner city, the highest-value areas often have the oldest houses originally built in the most desirable parts of the suburb, with heritage restrictions helping to preserve large, stately homes.

Where there’s restrictive development, old houses go for more than new houses,” Mr Ryan said.

”Once you see old houses that are more expensive than new houses, that shows you there’s something wrong with housing supply.”

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