News & Media

February 2018 Newsletter

AUCTION SEASON BEGINS

Saturday February 3 is shaping up to be the first auction weekend of the year, with many homeowners waiting till Australia returns to normal (after the Australia Day long weekend) to put their properties up for auction. There’ll be much interest in how Sydney’s housing market performs during this next auction season (given some areas are still performing well and others have eased off).

At the end of 2017, Sydney’s auction clearance rate fell from 66.8% to 57.5% over the three months to the end of December according to figures from property analytics company CoreLogic. The first litmus test will be this weekend when auctioneers will be in fine voice no doubt!

Generally, home prices in Sydney have continued to drop, continuing the trend that began late last year. According to CoreLogic, prices in Sydney fell by 0.6% for the month to January 22 with prices growth easing to 1.9% over the year. This slowdown has been driven by a combination of tighter lending restrictions, affordability issues and an increase in stock being put up for sale.

Before somebody utters the word “crash”, it’s important to remember that Sydney’s housing prices have rocketed in value by 75% in five years. And prices are still growing, albeit slower than what we’ve previously experienced.

In the words of John Cunningham, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW), “The expectation is for a very stable year with minor price fluctuations linked to the balance between supply and demand.”

INNER WEST POPULAR WITH RENTERS

Charles+Stuart’s property management team has long known about the strong demand for rental apartments in the inner west, so it was interesting to read a recent article that talked about how the inner west unit market is officially the most popular region for Sydney renters.

Rental demand data obtained from realestate.com.au for the six months to January 2018 showed that a number of suburbs including Lilyfield, Enmore, Annandale, Stanmore and Concord West were among the most in demand rental suburbs within 20km of the CBD.

This is certainly borne out by demand for rental properties managed by Charles+Stuart. We currently have on our books (or have recently leased) several rental apartments in inner city suburbs. In addition to those listed above, other suburbs that are always sought after are Surry Hills, Erskineville, Glebe, Alexandria and Woolloomooloo. Driving factors include proximity to transport, restaurants and cafes, parks and, of course, the CBD.

If you have an inner city property you would like to rent out or would like to discuss how the market is performing, please contact our property management team on (02) 9327 6444.

BETTER STREETSCAPES ON THE DRAWING BOARD

Construction of apartments has been going great guns in many parts of Sydney, but a number of design professionals are pushing for NSW government regulations to shape how buildings affect public areas, with a focus on improving streetscapes and urban areas.

And there are plans afoot to do just this. Peter Poulet, the NSW government architect, has said over the next year his office will release new design guides for public areas, focusing on buildings and open spaces in cities and towns.  Mr Poulet has said his office would encourage councils and other development approval bodies to carry out processes including design competitions, review panels, or public meetings or workshops known as “charrettes”, which have been shown to produce better outcomes.

The idea of more sensitive street-level building standards is also supported by the development lobby group, the Urban Taskforce. “I think there are some fundamental problems with the mid-level planners in councils who end up quite often saying the ground floor of all apartment buildings have to be shops,” said Chris Johnson, the Taskforce’s chief executive and a former government architect. He also noted that shops built under such developments were, in areas outside the inner city, often empty.

"The community probably blames the developer but in fact it's the council rules that say this needs to occur,” he said.

Shaun Carter, the former head of the NSW chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, has also called for a new planning law that would set minimum standards for street design and public places. “The essence of the problem is that no one thinks about the street as a public place,” he said in an SMH article. “All development is focused on the private domain, with nowhere near enough consideration of the public domain.”

Conversely, the current head of the Institute, Andrew Nimmo, believes local councils are better placed to introduce new standards in building design because they are familiar with the areas and streets under their control.

“The Institute believes that all Councils should have a city architect and ideally a city landscape architect as well – and many are doing that, such as Blacktown, Parramatta, Liverpool,” Mr Nimmo said in an interview with smh.com.au.

The design guides under development by Mr Poulet’s office, which follow the release of the broader Better Placed policy document in September, could be used by councils that “don't necessarily have all the expertise available to them.”

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