Sydney August 2018

The month in review: Sydney

By Herron Todd White
August 2018

Over the past fifty years in Sydney we have experienced a substantial shift in how we live, where we live, how we treat housing and what are considered must have items.

In 1968, the median house price for Sydney was approximately $13,000. Fast forward 50 years and that number has increased by over a million dollars with the June median at $1.12 million (source: Domain).

The must have for families back in 1968 was a detached dwelling in the suburbs with a large yard. A detached single garage or carport was standard and internally one living room was fairly common.

Thanks to increasing affordability, urban sprawl and changes to the way we live. Houses have become more than just a place to sleep at night; they have become the focal point of our lives. In many cases people now eat, sleep, entertain and work at home, so houses and housing design have adapted to our changing needs.

These days the kitchen isn’t tucked away in the corner, it has become the focal point of the home, and as such spending $50,000 to $100,000 on this area alone is becoming more common and not just in the more affluent areas of Sydney.

Other items becoming more popular include multiple external cladding and the use of a mixture of materials, dedicated media rooms and the desire to combine outdoor and indoor living through alfresco areas with substantial outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens, bar fridges and outdoor heaters.

In the early 2000s, in outer ring suburbs, particularly in the western suburbs of Sydney, very large family homes nicknamed McMansions became prevalent. More recently, with new land releases comprising more compact lots, the size of these homes is shrinking however the quality of the inclusions is increasing.

Currently new estates in the outer regions of Sydney’s west are offering blocks of land from around 150 to 400 square metres and a 500 square metre block is now considered a large lot. This allows houses to be built closer to the boundaries and have efficient low maintenance yards with little to no wasted space. Whilst it may not appeal to everyone, these smaller lots are being snapped up by young families and individuals who want a home but don’t want to waste the entire weekend on the garden maintenance that is usually required on more traditional 700 to 1,000 square metre parcels.

Planning restrictions throughout many Sydney LGAs have eased, allowing for more medium and high density construction. Lower minimum lot sizes for dual occupancies, smaller minimum living areas for units and an easing of car accommodation requirements have helped reshape a number of established Sydney suburbs.

In 1968 it would be unusual to raise a family in a unit. Now it is more common with families wanting to live in low maintenance accommodation within close proximity to services as a trade off to a larger home in the suburbs.

The centre of Sydney has traditionally been the Harbour and CBD, but over the years the focus has drifted further west as the population has grown along with urban sprawl. Currently Parramatta is seen as not only the geographical centre of Sydney but as a genuine second CBD with large scale infrastructure investment. This will become more the case when the second airport is built at Badgerys Creek, some 50 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD, but only half that from Parramatta.

Closer in, on the Sydney CBD fringe, there have been dramatic changes over the past 50 years with industrial precincts being transformed into new residential areas.

One such area is the Green Square and Zetland precinct, which has had a complete transformation over the past 50-odd years.

During the early to mid-1900s, the area was home to Victoria Park Racecourse and adjoining industrial estates such as the Nuffield Australia motor vehicle assembly facility (pictured top right).

Fifty years ago, these suburbs were not as appealing as places to live as they are today. The job market was not as focused on being close to the CBD, with many manufacturing jobs based around the innerwest and outer-western suburbs of Sydney. As time went by and new industries such as financial services, media and technology grew, demand also started to increase for people wanting to live closer to the CBD. As a result these areas have gentrified significantly and become far more desirable over the past two decades.

Units are now the more popular form of new residential property due to affordability and lifestyle choices for many. These days the demand continues to grow which is the result of affordability, job markets and people wanting to be closer to work to achieve work-life balance or improved lifestyle and of course avoid travelling long distances on public transport or in traffic. The increasing levels of new apartments also make rental accommodation more accessible for tenants. Warehouse and factory conversions have also become particularly popular within these inner city locations, allowing developers to transform older buildings whilst retaining their heritage appeal.

Common facilities are a big part of this lifestyle, with many new complexes having gyms, pools and impressive common areas. Developers are now trying to provide a point of difference by adding in common improvements such as libraries, meeting rooms, rooftop terraces, BBQ facilities, edible (herb) gardens and yoga rooms. In an effort to minimize car use, the City of Sydney Council is reducing the number of car spaces allowed in new developments, which is restricting supply and is pushing up the price of car spaces. Many new complexes now offer motorcycle or bicycle spaces as an alternative.

In addition to units, developers are also offering alternative options such as townhouses and terraces which offer larger living areas, superior parking provisions and direct street front access which appeal to larger families and those who don’t want to totally give up the more traditional freestanding home style found further away from the inner city. While these property types are a far cry from the quarter acre lot, they still tick many of the boxes in regards to size and functionality, plus they benefit from being close to work, school, shopping centres and everything else that buyers are looking for these days.

The past 50 years has seen Sydney grow out but also up, with increased density throughout most established suburbs, particularly those close to public transport infrastructure. The next 50 years is likely to see an even greater shift as the population continues to grow but the workforce continues to decentralise as more people work away from the office.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is correct at the time of publishing and is subject to change. It is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, Smartline recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Smartline recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.