Pockets of the Inner West still recording solid growth

Pockets of the inner west still recording solid growth

POPULAR pockets throughout the inner west are defying the crumbling market, recording solid growth over the past year.

New data from CoreLogic revealed Abbotsford as the fastest growing suburb in the region, with the median house price rising by 20.3 per cent in the past year to May.

Inner city suburb Enfield came second with growth of 17.8 per cent, followed by Rodd Point (11.2 per cent), Canada Bay (10.7 per cent) and Balmain East (10.5 per cent).

In the unit market Cabarita led the way with an increase of 43.1 per cent. This was followed by Rozelle (21.3), Birchgrove (20.8) and Earlwood (20).

410 Great North Road Abbotsford
No. 410 Great North Rd in Abbotsford is one of nine homes on the market in the suburb.

Agent Michael Carbone of Raine and Horne Concord said it was undeniable there had been a dip in the market, but there were always buyers looking in specific areas of the inner west.

“There is never a big oversupply in areas like Abbotsford,” he said. “The lower stock levels mean it does generate more interest.”

There are currently just nine homes on the market in Abbotsford and only 31 sales were transacted over the past 12 months.

Most buyers are families looking to upsize within the same area, creating that extra demand for large homes, Mr Carbone added.

“People who move into the region usually look to stay there which causes bigger numbers at open homes,” he said.

House prices in Abbotsford are up nearly $400,000 since 2016, while Cabarita unit prices have risen by around $590,000 in that time.

Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said it was tough to get a proper read on the current state of the market.

“Some suburbs have slowed faster than others while some are still seeing high levels of demand and solid growth,” she said.

Buying a house: Sydney home buyers look for Spring bargains

YDNEY’S inner west is one of the epicentres of the downturn in property values but it’s also a precinct unmatched in the diversity of its bricks and mortar.

Rare properties abound — converted corner stores, warehouses, ­period houses and apartments — and after a lull over the first two months of winter, agents report a spike in the number of buyers at open homes as they recognise the spring opportunities available.

One of the most unusual in the inner west is the heritage-listed Balmain home of musician Gretta Sculthorp, 84, which looks like a moneybox from the street.

Gretta Sculthorp Balmain Home

Gretta Sculthorp with Dr Graham Pont on the top balcony of 54 Birchgrove Rd, Balmain. Picture: Toby Zerna

“Lilywill” was built in 1905 at 54 Birchgrove Rd by a Neil McIntosh, who lived in the house opposite with his 50-year-old daughter, who died after smoking a poisonous cigar.

“The more we hear about this case, the more mysterious it becomes. lt is a case of poisoning either by herself or by someone else,” the coroner report­edly said in 1909.

Ms Sculthorp bought Lilywill more than 40 years ago for $52,000 after responding to an advertisement for “a fascinating house” in Balmain.

Gretta Sculthorp Balmain Home

Gretta Sculthorp peers out the side window of the charming and unsual Balmain home. Picture: Toby Zerna

“It was a hot day and when the door opened a fresh gust of wind came through — I said ‘I’ll take it’,” she said. When it was originally built it was known as The Wedge, because of its triangular shape, and there are balconies on two of the three levels, with views of the harbour.

Philosopher Dr Graham Pont moved in with Ms Sculthorp in 2002. “A neighbour in her 90s remembers Lilywill was a brothel, then a dance hall and another neighbour studied the piano here,” he said.

The pair were famous for their parties. “We’d invite 20 musicians and warn all the neighbours,” Ms Scul­thorp said.

McGrath agent Cindy Kennedy expects the unique charm of the property, which has a $2.1 million price guide ahead of the September 8 auction, will have a wide appeal.

Gretta Sculthorp Balmain Home

Ms Sculthorp knew she had to buy it the minute the front door opened. Picture: Toby Zerna

“It’s in Balmain that I find the most unusual real estate crops up and occ­asionally — not often — something a bit like this, but it’s truly unique,” she said. “Buyers have been hibernating, but we’re getting quadruple the number of people through our open homes than we were just a few weeks ago.” She said the price guide for Lilywill is about 10 per cent less than what it might have been a year ago.

“The lucky buyers have got a great choice, the lowest interest rates forever and the best time to purchase since 2011,” Ms Kennedy said.

Gretta Sculthorp Balmain Home

One of the bedrooms at 54 Birchgrove Rd. Picture: Toby Zerna

“It’s a bit like the post GFC-period, where some homes are selling  for  less  than  what  the ­owners paid.”

A house in Nelson St, Rozelle, sold for $1.488 million on July 6, $82,000 less than what the owners paid at the peak of the boom in September 2016.

In Balmain, a four-bedroom house in Harris St sold for $2.45 million on May 26, $350,000 less than the $2.8 million paid in December 2016.

An apartment in the Eve development in Eve St, Erskineville, is selling for $1.06 million, $40,000 less than $1.1m the owners had paid off the plan. A renovated five-bedroom Marrickville home sold for $1.96 million, $240,000 short of the reserve.


“We are converting this large former industrial precinct into an engaging and inclusive residential community that will ultimately become home to some 3000 residents,” he said.

“It’s great to see projects like this coming to life.”

Launch of Park Sydney in Erskineville.

It will be home to around 3000 residents.

With construction on Park Sydney beginning and the WestConnex project ongoing, the inner west is a hive of activity on the development front.

Erskineville has undergone large changes over the past few years, with house prices increasing by 67.2 per cent in the last 12 months, according to CoreLogic data.

Six reasons why the majority of Australian investors use a property manager

A tenant calling about a blocked toilet at 9pm on a Friday can either be a quick way to ruin a landlord’s weekend, or a minor hiccup that gets solved smoothly.

Property managers have access to tried and tested tradies at reasonable rates.Property managers have access to tried and tested tradies at reasonable rates. Photo: Paul Bradbury

If you’re among the 75 per cent of landlords who use a property manager, they will arrange an emergency plumber to fix the issue without you having to lift a finger.

But if you’re part of the remaining 25 per cent who take a DIY approach, you’re in for an evening of wrangling tenants and tradies and figuring out who foots the bill.

A property manager does more than just advertise for tenants, and these are some of the ways they can make a landlord’s life easier.

Property managers have access to tenancy databases, helping them sort good tenants from bad.Property managers have access to tenancy databases, helping them sort good tenants from bad. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

1. Making maintenance a no-brainer

The above scenario occurs every week in real estate agencies across the country, and a similar scene played out at Gunning Real Estate last week but with a further twist to the tale.

“We found out that the reason for the blockage was that foreign matters had been put down the toilet,” says principal and REIA president Malcolm Gunning. “This then becomes the tenant’s problem and the tenant’s cost.”

Gunning speculates that if you were managing the property yourself, you would likely be in for a one-on-one confrontation with your tenant.

“Instead, your property manager becomes the adjudicator and they can have those difficult conversations,” he says. “They can navigate the expectations of both the landlord and the tenant and apply the lease conditions fairly.”

2. Taking control of tricky conversations

Carolyn Parrella, executive manager for landlord insurance specialist Terri Scheer Insurance, says it’s advantageous to have a buffer between landlords and tenants.

“It means you’ve got someone who’s there to take calls when your hot water service breaks down at 8pm,” she says. “It’s less personal, and keeps you at arm’s length. It’s also a time issue – it can be quite time-consuming to arrange maintenance and inspections. If you want to manage your property well, it makes sense to appoint a manager to do it for you.”

3. Hiring top tradies

Having a relationship with good tradies is also key to smooth and timely repairs.

“We’ve got a group of tradies that have worked with us for many years,” says Gunning. “We know they’re reliable and will do a good job and won’t need to be called back. The property manager is aiming for quality service for a reasonable cost.”

Instead of paying premium landlord prices, director of Property Alchemy Penelope Valentine says good property managers will always get at least two quotes.

“The policy should be to work with the best professionals, making sure everyone is licensed and insured.”

4. Staying across rights and regulations

Valentine believes it’s a false economy to try and manage your investment property yourself.

“Let’s say your tenant damages your property. If you don’t have the expertise to manage those issues, they can escalate unnecessarily and landlords will find themselves at the tribunal,” she says. “A property manager can save an investor time and money.”

Parrella says a professional manager knows the fine details of the regulations that govern tenancy agreements and are also required to keep up with regulation changes via newsletters, advice bulletins and training.

“The average investor is not going to know the ins and outs of the law,” she says. “It’s better to leave it to someone who is familiar with the processes and understands what’s involved.”

Gunning agrees that navigating the tenancy act when problems arise is where a professional’s skills come to the fore.

5. Choosing choice tenants

Of course, choosing the right tenant in the first place is paramount to setting up the tenancy for success, says Valentine.

“It’s more involved than investors think. You can go on a gut feeling but there’s so much due diligence that needs to go around that.”

Parrella says property managers have access to tenancy databases which allow them to avoid tenants with a bad rental history that might include breaking a lease, failing to pay rent or damaging a property.

They are also likely to keep their own database of prospective tenants for the area they service.

“Each Saturday, if you’ve got a reasonably large portfolio, you’re doing open homes and you’ve got a list of people that come through looking to rent,” says Gunning. “So when you get a new listing you can make a call and lease it quickly – you may not even need to do marketing.”

6. Understanding market movements

Gunning says your property manager is also your barometer for the state of the market.

“They’re exposed to the whole of the market in their district, so they’ve got a pretty clear indication of rates and can advise when rents should hold, go up or go down,” he says.

“In this current market where you’ve got vacancies above 2 per cent, you need a good gauge on what will lease your property. Your property manager can help you set the right rent and show you how to present your property well.”