The month in review: Wollongong
By Herron Todd White
Wollongong and the Illawarra region has a history dating back to the 1820s as a settlement south of the developing centre of Sydney, 100 kilometres to the north. Early development centred on the port and harbour area and the emerging coal industry up in the escarpment.
There are few remaining examples of older dwellings from this era and those that do remain are generally of grander scale than basic housing. There are some examples of early 20th century housing in pockets around Wollongong CBD, for example older Californian bungalows in a precinct in Robinson Street, some dwellings in Smith Street, Kembla and Keira Streets.
In the northern suburbs of Thirroul, Bulli and Austinmer there are scattered examples of older dwellings, some miners cottages and commercial buildings. However there are no distinct precincts (perhaps apart from Moore Street in Austinmer) where there is a village of remnant cottages. Consequently each property needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Further south in the Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven regions, there are considerably more heritage housing precincts. These are notably in Kiama, Berry, Jamberoo and Shellharbour Village.
Prices vary for these housing types, however as they are generally located within close proximity of the CBD area or coastal regions, the values tend to be higher than outer areas, underpinned by a higher land content and value.
These houses do not attract the majority of buyers. There are costs and problems associated with restoration and upkeep and many buyers are seeking modern fixtures and fittings rather than heritage style. If a full restoration is to be undertaken the cost to complete such work to comply with local council regulations and rules will be higher than that required for non listed buildings. Therefore cost will not always equate to value added and unless located in a highly sought after inner area where capital values are rising, return on investment is not assured.
Attributes which make these types of dwellings desirable generally include proximity to good infrastructure and a liquid market. In villages such as Berry or Jamberoo there is also a pattern established where there are a group or precinct of such dwellings of the same ere which are all renovated or restored to much the same standard and they become the norm for period dwellings.
In valuing such properties these attributes are considered and as much as possible we compare heritage dwellings with others of similar age and listing status. A recent example of a heritage listed dwelling which sold at the higher end of the scale is in Kiama. Rockleigh, a heritage listed circa 1860 Victorian style part two storey dwelling in Bong Bong Street with northerly aspect and ocean and harbour views recently exchanged at around $1.1 million.