Smaller capitals outshine major cities as buyer hotspots: HTW

With the market rapidly changing in the wake of the rate hikes, a new report showed smaller cities are now stealing the show and becoming sought-after affordable hotspots among buyers.

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Kevin Brogan, the national director for group risk and compliance at Herron Todd White (HTW), said the impact of the rapidly increasing interest rates has not been uniform across all markets.

“Although in some locations residential property values have fallen (notably Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), properties in Adelaide and Perth have fared better.

“Residential property in the lower price range in capital cities and in regional areas has generally not seen a significant drop in value,” he stated.

While the affordability of lower-priced dwellings remains relatively stable, he highlighted the issue of serviceability has become a growing concern for potential buyers, with a rising proportion of monthly household income required for mortgage repayments.


As a result, the executive noted many aspiring owner-occupiers have turned to the rental market, leading to increased demand and higher rental prices.

“Given all of this, the concept of cheap property can be taken to mean a property that sits within the affordability and serviceability constraints of most potential purchasers,” he said.

According to Mr Brogan, buyers seeking affordable options without compromising on location may need to explore alternative strategies, as property prices in desirable “blue-chip” locations typically already reflect these advantages.

So what markets are the best options for buyers wanting to purchase affordable properties without compromising on location?

The firm’s latest Month in Review report revealed Darwin, the ACT, and Hobart all have relatively affordable options for home buyers even after the sharp increase in prices over the past few years.

Data showed all three cities were said to still have properties priced under $500,000 to $600,000 dollars that were well located and would suit a range of buyers.

Darwin gives owner-occupiers, investors a bang for their buck

HTW valuer Will Johnson posited Darwin might currently be offering the best value property prices in the country.

“With cost-of-living pressures so high across the country, Darwin is proving to be an excellent option for affordable housing and an opportunity for savvy investors seeking strong rental returns,” Mr Johnson stated.

Additionally, he stated houses, units and townhouses all have options for good quality housing under $500,000 suitable for a “family, empty nester or first homeowner”.

“This coupled with so many long-term infrastructure and strategic works programs in the Northern Territory makes Darwin a very attractive option to live and prosper.”

In particular, he said the satellite city of Palmerston is now the best location to buy a house and land package, with established housing under $500,000 “a very real option” in the area.

“Suburbs such as Gunn, Durack and Rosebery are transacting with three- and four-bedroom homes,” he revealed.

For units, Mr Johnson said Darwin’s central business district remains the top pick due to its excellent views, entertainment, amenity and common facilities in the complex.

“These units are attractive for those looking to downsize from the large family home, or for investors looking to unlock the excellent yield opportunity in Darwin,” he stated.

“Away from the CBD, Nightcliff and Rapid Creek are very popular; the Casuarina Drive foreshore location offers ocean views and access to running tracks, cafes, pubs and local schools,” he stated.

Canberra’s prime suburbs for budget buyers

HTW assistant valuer Kush Sen said that while the best locations to buy in and around the city’s capital would be around the inner north and inner south areas due to their location and large blocks, they aren’t affordable.

Although he mentioned affordable suburbs in Canberra such as Charnwood, Macgregor, Ngunnawal, and Richardson, it is important to note that they may not necessarily be the top suburbs in terms of overall quality and desirability within Canberra.

While looking at properties under the $600,000 mark, units were the property type to go for, as houses over the past few years have gone over the $600,000 mark.

“When looking at champagne locations and beer budget properties, the inner north of Canberra offers one- and two-bedroom units for less than $400,000 up to $750,000,” Mr Sen said.

“This location is close to the light rail for easy transport into the city and is ideal for tenants working in the city or who want to be within the hustle and bustle of Canberra.”

Hobart areas offering value for buyers

HTW valuer Mark Davies said it could be difficult to find affordable suburbs at times in Hobart due to incomes in the region being significantly lower compared to the levels recorded in the mainland.

He explained prices in the city surged during the pandemic, and as the market is “now in a state of relative normality”, properties are “sitting on the market for a little longer”.

“[Potential] purchasers have been given some breathing space when it comes to making offers and adding conditions to sale contracts,” Mr Davies said.

He named Bellerive and Lindisfarne Village (on the eastern shore) and Kingston Beach on the southern side of the River Derwent as the suburbs that “fit the bill” when it comes to affordability and their offerings for buyers.

“All of these suburbs are quite popular given the close proximity to restaurants and essential services or the beach.

“The problem is that entry-level properties are transacting for circa mid $500,000 for a two-bedroom unit, with top-end houses selling for well over the $1 million mark,” he said.

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