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Top stories of 2014

By Vivienne Kelly
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This year saw some property markets booming, disagreements about the future of mining towns, negative gearing thrown into the spotlight and a flurry of investor activity on the back of good conditions and low interest rates – but which areas attracted the most attention?

One of the most controversial stories of the year came in October, when a mining region – which was popular with investors and commanded rents of over $3,000 a week and asking prices in excess of $1.5 million – was thrust into the spotlight by SQM Research’s Louis Christopher, who said the town was continuing its decline and likened the crash to “bloodshed”.

Speaking about Port Hedland, a mining town in the Pilbara region exposed to iron ore and gas, Mr Christopher said property investors in the region had experienced significant value losses, but the worst may be over.

“Essentially, asking prices for houses have fallen from $1,500,000 down to $900,000. That’s a 40 per cent plummet,” he said.

“Naturally, that has been an appalling result for existing property investors.”

Ryan Crawford, founder of the Crawford Property Group, however, hit back at the claims and said the figures quoted to support this story were misleading.

Speaking to Smart Property Investment, Mr Crawford said the media and some commentators had a tendency to “sensationalise” their claims about mining towns. He said that even though Port Hedland had declined, the picture wasn't nearly as bleak as some would have you believe.

Port Hedland wasn’t the only mining town making headlines in 2014. In February, a report was released which said the volatile property market in Queensland’s Moranbah could be set to bounce back – a claim which not all Smart Property Investment online's commenters agreed with.

Sydney property markets grabbed a fair share of the spotlight in 2014 – with any reports of booming or crashing suburbs attracting high levels of investor interest.

In October, Smart Property Investment reported that Ryde, a suburb 13 kilometres north west of Sydney’s CBD, could be set to experience double-digit growth in the coming year due to employment opportunities, renovation potential and infrastructure revitalisation.

Sydney’s proposed second airport at Badgerys Creek also attracted attention from property investors, with some stakeholders in April predicting that property values in Sydney’s west could take off as a result.

Despite Sydney’s booming property market, and the much discussed potential ‘property bubble’, it wasn’t all good news for Australia’s largest city in 2014.

Earlier this year, Smart Property Investment reported on research which indicated not all property markets within Sydney had benefited from the recent property boom.

SQM Research’s Mr Christopher said at the time that there was a pervasive misconception that “all areas have done very well in the Sydney property boom” – but data from the company showed this not to be the case.

More recently, in November, there was also talk that Australia’s largest city faced a correction in property prices if current growth levels continued for much longer.

Speaking at the launch of Genworth’s Home Grown report, Paul Bloxham, chief economist of HSBC Australia and New Zealand, said investor activity was “a bit frothy” in Sydney and if prices kept running at double-digit growth rates, there was a “good chance” we would see a house price fall in the city.

With prices in many Sydney suburbs skyrocketing, Brisbane also attracted its fair share of attention from investors, commentators and the media.

In February, the inner-northern suburbs were identified as offering the best prospects for capital growth and rental returns in the city.

According to Position Property, areas such as Albion, Windsor, Wilston, Newmarket and Grange recorded the best performances in Brisbane’s housing market, which was moving solidly into recovery mode at the time.

Reports that identified up-and-coming and fast-growing suburbs also proved popular with Smart Property Investment’s readers.

In July, a report by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) which identified the nation’s top building and population hotspots attracted attention – as did a report by onthehouse.com.au, which claimed to uncover the suburbs that held the best potential for capital growth and rental returns over the next five years.

In September, John McGrath, executive director of real estate agency McGrath, identified his top picks for suburbs to buy into over the coming 12 months.

One of his top picks was Millers Point in Sydney, which he said was “about to explode”.

Throughout 2014, commentators weren’t just offering up advice about where to buy – others were advising investors about which areas to steer clear of.

Earlier this year, Herron Todd White warned investors about the areas to avoid in Australia’s capital cities.

Looking forward, the New Year is expected to be particularly good for one capital city’s property market, with Place Estate Agents and RP Data’s Tim Lawless identifying Brisbane as the city to watch in 2015.

 

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Top Suburbs

Highest annual price growth - click a suburb below to view full profile data:
1.
FAIRLIGHT 46.02%
2.
CASUARINA 44.36%
3.
THE ENTRANCE NORTH 41.09%
4.
ULTIMO 40.67%
5.
LAVENDER BAY 40.2%