Suburbs that many buyers might have once avoided are growing in popularity on the back of housing affordability pressures and gentrification.
A combination of fast-paced development and shifting demographics in capital cities is transforming unfashionable areas and restoring tarnished images.
One of the more extreme suburb makeovers is taking place 43km west of Sydney’s CBD in Mount Druitt, where upscale retail and residential developments are underpinning “monumental” transformation, according to local real estate agent Sid Elias from LJ Hooker.
Mr Elias made headlines earlier this year after selling the suburb’s most expensive home for $2 million – something unthinkable not long ago.
“But the massive investment from developers and the State Government is making it hugely popular with homebuyers and investors, as there’s still affordable homes on large blocks of land especially in older parts of Mount Druitt,” he said.
A pariah with big potential
This fresh demand has driven Mount Druitt’s median house price up 14.2% in the past 12 months to $862,500.
Major development projects, like the Vegas Hotel revitalization, will change the face of Mount Druitt. Picture: Leith Group Developments
A big driver of the change underway in the suburb is the State Government’s approved $1.5 billion revamp of the main business district.
That funding rapidly accelerated the area’s transformation by allowing such projects as an upscale residential development comprising 1000 apartments across five towers, as well as the $300 million makeover of the rundown Las Vegas Hotel site
Baris Bonulal from LJ Hooker said Mount Druitt “feels like a whole new suburb” lately.
“Ten years ago, Mount Druitt wasn’t the best,” Mr Bonulal said. “But I’ve honestly been surprised at how quickly it’s changed, in even just the last two years.”
Westfield Mount Druitt has a trendy new rooftop precinct. Picture: Westfield
In another major boost, Westfield Mount Druitt opened a lavish $55 million rooftop entertainment precinct in April with 15 restaurants and locally commissioned artworks.
As for the future, the local council is pumping $27 million into revitalizing the Mount Druitt Town Center and the suburb is poised to benefit from the new St Mary’s Train Station being built for the Sydney Metro system.
Much to be positive about in Melton
The outer Melbourne suburb of Melton is experiencing a similar shift in fortunes.
Despite being 37km from the CBD, it has emerged the new hero of Melbourne’s housing market and ranks as Victoria’s second fastest-growing municipality.
Formally known as the City of Melton, it comprises 31 suburbs in total, including 11 added in 2017.
Its easy access to the M8 freeway and proposed new train station has helped Melton become an investor hotspot.
The Melton region enjoys relative affordability. Picture: realestate.com.au/sold
Most popular with both homebuyers and investors are older homes on larger blocks priced between $500,000 and $600,000, according to Kirsteen Ryder from Professionals Ryder Real Estate.
“They’re snapped up in a few weeks of going to market and we can’t replace them fast enough,” Ms Ryder said.
New housing estates coming online now and in future will help feed the pipeline for buyers though, she said.
Values had been rising steadily for years but the pandemic sent them soaring.
“Prices kept going up every week during each covid lockdown,” said Ms Ryder, who has been selling in Melton for 10 years. “We’d never seen anything like it.”
While Melton “is not Essendon or Moonee Ponds just yet”, she said the area is slowly gentrifying.
Melton’s abundance of nature reserves makes it a picturesque area. Picture: Getty
In the past six months, improvements to the CBD’s main shopping precinct have been followed by boutique retail strips popping up in nearby Cobblebank and Weir Views.
Prices in both areas have since grown accordingly, Ms Ryder said.
Local resident Jaslar Pearl has watched Melton’s ascendancy from childhood.
After leaving Melton to study, the up-and-coming fashion designer – who gained accolades at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival – moved back permanently in 2019.
The 22-year-old has no issue running his successful label in the far-flung suburb and praised local council for running such events as the retail pop-up he will participate in later this year.
“I visited on-and-off while I was away traveling and studying and saw Melton change a lot in that time,” Mr Pearl said.
Melbourne fashion designer Jaslar Pearl calls Melton home. Picture: LCI
The most “dramatic change” was in and around the CBD and Woodgrove shopping precinct, he said.
“It seems that there is always something being built now. I live on the outskirts of the area and there’s a row of shops on Coburg Road that weren’t there when I moved back here two years ago, with a little grocery store, cafes, carvery, pizza shop.
“There’s even a nightclub in Melton if you’re not willing to travel to the city.”
Melton is to receive a $1 billion a state-of-the-art hospital, with the massive health precinct announced in the recent state budget, along with major funding for public transport, roads, and schools.
Investors eyeing off Elizabeth
On Adelaide’s outskirts, the suburb of Elizabeth is more renowned for its crime rate and public housing estates than being a good place to buy.
But all that is about to change.
Incorporated into the City of Playford since 1997, the population is forecast to grow from 90,000 to 132,000 by 2036, and major plans announced this year include reshaping Elizabeth’s CBD into a thriving retail, business, and entertainment precinct.
Shifts are already occurring, with a brand new 205-room Ramada Hotel opening in December in the heart of Elizabeth, which sits 25km north of the Adelaide CBD on a major route between the capital and the Barossa Valley wine region.
Elizabeth is a fast-changing region with good opportunities for buyers and investors. Picture: realestate.com.au/sold
Local resident Roy Laird, 53, has lived in Elizabeth all his life and scoffs at its reputation for having a checkered past, attributing the perception to the “naïve view of those who don’t live here”.
Mr Laird said there had been vast transformation across the much-maligned suburb, which was named after Queen Elizabeth II and just happens to be the childhood home of singer Jimmy Barnes.
Recent years had drawn private buyers, investors, and developers targeting its affordable homes, high rental yields, and large blocks perfect for subdividing.
“From a visual point of view, Elizabeth now looks a whole lot better than it did simply because of all these new modern builds,” said Mr Laird, a real estate agent at Harcourts Elizabeth for the past 20 years.
“Property prices here are still some of the lowest in the state but lately they’ve skyrocketed, and demand has been huge.”
A flurry of development is taking place across Elizabeth. Picture: Wyndham
Traditional 1960s-built three-bedroom homes averaging from $350,000 to $400,000 had been joined on the market by more diverse and modern home styles, he said.
Properties in nearby Blakemore, Craigmore, and Andrews Farm achieve prices closer to $400,000 to $500,000.
Mr Laird, who is well known in Elizabeth for his many years as premiership coach of the local Central District local AFL club, is also enthusiastic about the new tennis centre, sporting fields, and small playgrounds spearheaded by council.
“It’s breeding excitement for young people,” he said.
It’s all happening in Inala
Another rough diamond receiving a shiny new exterior is the Brisbane suburb of Inala.
Property analysts were forecasting as long ago as 2017 that the suburb, 22km south-west of the city centre, would one day hold a place among the Queensland capital’s gentrifying areas.
The predictions are slowly coming good.
Shifting demographics are bringing upscale restaurants to the suburb and new shopping center Saigon Plaza opened this year.
Brisbane City Council has focussed on the area, spending $500,000 in 2019 to refresh the Biota Street neighborhood shopping precinct with new street furniture and landscaping as part of its Village Precinct Projects program.
Inala is a vibrant community with good affordability. Picture: Getty
Young homebuyers from across the board are targeting Inala in search of affordable properties, according to local agent Toby Chan from One Agency.
The born-and-bred local loves his home suburb and is seeing it change before his eyes.
Not only is he catering to a new breed of buyer, but Mr Chan now holds the record for selling Inala’s most expensive home so far – a seven-bedroom, four-bathroom house at 5 Bittern Street that went for $885,000 in May.
“Back when I was growing up a different sort of people lived here,” he said. “But now even interstate people are moving here from Sydney, as well as young families wanting to move out from the Brisbane city.”
One such case was a young family who were renting in Kenmore, a more expensive suburb closer to the city, who came to Inala in their search for a first home earlier this year.
“They inquired about properties close to schools like St Marks that they could still afford to buy,” Mr Chan said. He eventually sold them a three-bedroom house for $550,000.