Sydney Property Market Update September 2019

According to the last census, between 2016 and 2017, Sydney’s population grew by 101,600 people, an increase of approximately 2%. Of that, an increase of 84,700 came from net overseas migration, 35,000 from natural increase, while net internal migration provided a loss of 18,100 people (source: ABS). Interestingly, that internal migration loss has seen Sydney slip behind Melbourne in terms of overall population growth.

Sydney’s population growth has therefore predominantly been driven by overseas migration. In fact, the overall total net overseas migration for Australia between 2016 and 2017 was 262,489 (source: ABS), meaning that 38.7% of that growth can be attributed to Sydney. Sydney is a desirable location for overseas immigrants due to employment opportunities, education facilities and other services and the opportunity to move into an area with a population of similar nationality or culture.

The majority of people who leave Sydney for other parts of Australia go to other parts of New South Wales and Melbourne (source: ABS). Newcastle, Wollongong and regional New South Wales offer plenty of opportunities for those looking for a sea or tree change, either in retirement or for those looking for a more affordable lifestyle, particularly lower-cost housing, or to escape Sydney’s bulging transport and road systems.

Those areas of Sydney that have seen the largest increase in net internal migration are the growth centres in the south-west and north-west of the city, which have experienced massive new housing growth over recent years through land releases.

Within greater western Sydney there has been a ripple effect of buyers pushing further west in order to secure more property bang for their buck as urban sprawl continues.

This is evident within the new land release areas on the outer fringes of western Sydney such as Box Hill and Austral, with a number of local young families and upgraders buying affordable house and land packages or building their dream home for a lot less than the equivalent (and also older) products a few kilometres east.

As has been the case over the past few years, infrastructure has been a massive drawcard for many people in north-west Sydney resulting in people moving to the area who may not have considered it before. Suburbs such as Cherrybrook, which was often in the shadows of its more sought after neighbour West Pennant Hills, is now bucking the more stable market trend as seen with a recent result of $2.336 million for a quality built, 25-year- old, original dwelling in Rothbury Place, a short walk to the new metro station. This infrastructure linking the north-west to Chatswood allows for families to send their children to north shore schools without having to pay north shore prices for houses.

In the outer west, we’ve seen a number of Penrith residents moving to the lower mountains area and the lower mountains area moving to the upper mountains area and the upper mountains residents moving over the hill to Hartley and beyond.

We’ve also completed valuations for families selling up and moving to regional towns such as Bathurst. This is becoming more popular as technology is allowing people to work more remotely or even allowing certain occupations to work full time from home.

Another example of population movement is in Werombi, a small tightly held semi-rural village located on the outskirts of metropolitan Sydney.

Local agents have been reporting a trend of buyers shifting further west for rural lifestyle holdings given the more eastern rural fringe areas, such as Rossmore, are part of the Sydney Regional Growth Centres Plan. This has seen a spike in interest and rising values for the better part of the last two to three year period.

Up until 2017, this was popular in the north-west of Sydney with Schofields residents on rural lifestyle holdings being bought out by developers and then moving further out to Oakville and Maraylya to escape the chaos of development and hopefully catch the development wave again decades later.

The great migration of baby boomers is no more apparent than on Sydney’s north shore. Baby boomers occupying larger homes on the upper north shore suburbs such as Wahroonga and Turramurra have been selling up and moving to the lower north shore to settle in smaller luxury two and three-bedroom apartments in suburbs such as Mosman.

The existing dwellings the downgraders leave behind are generally purchased by local upgraders or returning expats with younger families wanting to take advantage of the north shore’s quality schools and quiet neighborhoods. Over the years these homes are renovated to suit current demands and no doubt when the time comes these owners too will migrate east to the lower north shore to downsize, keeping the tradition alive.

Interestingly the suburb with the largest negative net internal migration, Parramatta-Rosehill, was the area with the largest positive net overseas migration. This would suggest existing residents are moving to other areas, potentially to upgrade from a unit to a house, with new residents from overseas filling the void.

Auburn, Campsie, Lakemba and Kingsford also have a high percentage of unit stock and would indicate that people are looking to upgrade from units to houses but can’t necessarily afford to do that in the suburb in which they currently reside.

It is no surprise to see that those suburbs with the highest net internal migration are those that have also experienced significant unit construction in recent years. This has provided overseas immigrants the opportunity to get more affordable housing in well-positioned suburbs, close to major transport links and services. Many of these suburbs are also located close to educational facilities which are also a major pull factor for overseas students into these areas.

Chippendale is a small inner-city suburb located at the southern end of the CBD and adjoins Redfern to the south. The suburb was long known for being an older style run-down location, however, the area has been transformed in recent years, particularly since the opening of the Central Park development by Frasers Property and Sekisui House.

At the 2016 ABS census, there were 8,617 residents in Chippendale with approximately 27% of people born in China and 21% of people born in Australia. In contrast, at the 2011 census, there were 4,057 residents, approximately 38% of which were born in Australia. During 2016 to 2017 the Chippendale and Redfern area saw a further net overseas migration of 6% (1,418 people) and this trend appears to be continuing.

A large portion of residents in Chippendale are also students drawn to the area by surrounding educational establishments such as the University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, University of Notre Dame Australia and TAFE campuses.

The essence of the area is changing to supply the demands of the increasing population of students and overseas migrants. This can be seen with the influx of cafés, restaurants and everyday services such as dry cleaning and medical centres.

There are some remaining sections of the suburb that still have original terrace style dwellings, however, the majority of the suburb has been developed to provide high-density style apartment living which is typically required by this younger demographic. Modern developments such as Central Park usually include common facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, communal areas and concierge services. Infrastructure and transport routes are established around here with Central train station and multiple bus stops being close by, as are educational facilities, the CBD and other services and amenities.

The suburb of Chatswood, on Sydney’s lower north shore, has undergone major changes over the past decade. Chatswood is approximately ten kilometres north of the Sydney CBD and comprises a mix of major commercial development, high-density residential development and surrounding detached residential housing on relatively large blocks of land.

Chatswood has a high percentage of Chinese residents, creating a prominent Chinese cultural community. This is especially evident around its CBD with a vast amount of Chinese businesses, Chinese restaurants and newly developed highrise developments predominantly occupied by Chinese residents. Chatswood is a prime example of a suburb developed to meet the demands of these residents who desire central high density living with access to public transport. To meet these demands, we have seen a relatively recent major overhaul of Chatswood train station in conjunction with previously non-existent, high-density residential development in and around Chatswood train station. In meeting the demands of the demographic in Chatswood, we have seen an increase in population, primarily the consequence of a greater supply of residential units. As Chatswood has continued to develop, demand for housing has been driven not only by the improved infrastructure but also the desire by the Chinese demographic to be within proximity of the familiarities of the Chinese culture, of which Chatswood has an abundance. According to the ABS, as at 31 August 2018, the estimated population growth in the Chatswood (East)-Artarmon area rose by 3.1% over 2016 to 2017. The estimated population growth in the Chatswood (West)-Lane Cove North area rose by 3.6% over 2016 to 2017.

Although we are currently seeing less residential development, infrastructure continues to improve to meet the population growth. In addition to the major overhaul of Chatswood train station as mentioned above, Chatswood has a brand new metro station, part of the Sydney Metro Northwest project, connecting Rouse Hill to Chatswood via Castle Hill and Epping. The completion of this long-awaited project opens up the southern section of Chatswood and we expect to see this area experience major development in the near future, compounding the already evident population growth in the area.

With Sydney’s population expected to increase to around 6.5 million by 2036 (source: ABS), it is likely that net overseas migration will continue to be the major driver in this growth. This population growth will predominantly be in western Sydney but will also see some more established inner suburbs continue to experience urban consolidation through more unit development, as they continue to be the location of choice for those immigrating from overseas. This will continue to put further stress on roads, transport and services in established areas while newer areas will require new infrastructure.

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