From a smaller pad with ocean views to a mansion in the ‘burbs, API takes a look around the country to find out where you’ll get the most bang for your million bucks.
One million dollars is a lot of money, but thanks to the property boom in Sydney and Melbourne, the number of million-plus suburbs “exploded” this year.
RP Data research analyst Cameron Kusher says homes in the million-dollar property club hit new heights in 2014.
In fact, there are now 417 suburbs around the country that have a median value of $1 million.
That’s an increase of around 33 per cent in just 12 months, with the number of suburbs with a median price tag of $1 million just 312 back in 2013.
What a difference a year makes! It’s no surprise many of the newcomers are in Sydney, but what about the rest of the country?
Exactly what does $1 million buy you these days? Let’s take a look.
Insane Sydney Prices
It’s fair to say that Sydney prices, and buyers for that matter, seem to have gone slightly insane over the past year, willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars over the reserve in some cases.
A $1 million property used to mean a mansion with fantastic views.
These days, it’s a modest pad in the city ring.
The median house price of Sydney now sits at $750,000 while the median unit price is $575,000, according to RP Data.
“One million dollars doesn’t buy you much in Sydney anymore,” Herron Todd White valuer Kim Quick says.
“There’s a big sense now, ‘if I don’t get in now, I might get there next week.”
It sounds a bit depressing, but the good news is that you can still live near some of Sydney’s best beaches, such as Bondi, Manly and Balmoral, if you have $1 million max to spend.
Just don’t expect a house.
For this sort of price range, a two-bedroom apartment with no ocean views, but probably a balcony and a car space, is as good as it gets.
Quick says anything near the beach would be “fairly modest”. You might find a property with ocean views, or ‘glimpses,’ as agents like to say, but it would probably need a renovation.
“If you’re looking for more comfort, you’ll get something further away,” she says. “The higher the scale of fit-out, the less likely you’ll be close to anything.”
In the outer suburbs, $1 million will obviously go much further
You’d be able to purchase a two-bedroom attached semi in an inner-west suburb such as Leichhardt or even a freestanding house on or very close to a main road or train station.
Dulwich Hill and suburbs near Leichardt have benefitted from the inner-west light rail,” Quick says. “You would find two-bedroom accommodation, probably a semi or a townhouse (for $1 million). There isn’t a lot of freestanding product in that area.”
She says anything on the North Shore with a $1 million price tag would be land value only.
Even properties in greater western Sydney such as Castle Hill, Kellyville and The Ponds are now coming with $1 million price tags.
“A suburban house with a nice backyard, one that’s nicely renovated in Castle Hill, is pushing $1 million,” Quick says. “That’s 35 kilometres from the CBD.”
Bigger blocks can also be found south of Sydney, in the St George and Sutherland Shire are.
You might be able to find a dump, in need of a lot of work but on a larger block of around 500 square metres, in one of St George’s main hubs, Hurstville.
Alternatively, you could find a house for less than $1 million heading towards Cronulla, although it would be an older-style pad.
Allam Real Estate Agent Camille Allam says convenience is now a “very big thing” when it comes to ‘the Shire.’
“Being able to get in and out and close to captain Cook Drive has started to become huge,” he says. “North Caringbah used to be the cheaper sister of South Carigbah, but now it’s all about convenience and lifestyle.”
He says that $1 million properties in Sutherland Shire can actually have huge profit margins thanks to zoning changes, which now allow properties on 600 square metres to be subdivided.
“That has brought Shire prices up in terms of any property on more than 600 square metres,” he says.
“Mums and dads are now trying to do developments, plus a huge amount of buyers are now downsizing.”
More Realistic Melbourne
Victoria has 56 suburbs with a median house price of $1 million or more, and one unit suburb with the same median. But prices are definitely more realistic, at least compared to Sydney.
The house median is $160,000 less than Sydney’s, sitting at $590,000. The unit median is also cheaper at $460,000.
This means you can still get into the blue-chip suburbs of inner Melbourne, just don’t expect to live on a large bock.
The blue-chip suburb of Richmond offers two and three-bedroom properties for around $1 million. Likewise, trendy Toorak offers similar property.
But with a median house price of $2,622,000, an apartment or small semi is realistically what someone with $1 million to spend would be looking at.
To the city’s inner-west you could snap up a three-bedroom renovated period property in the suburb of Yarraville, according to Cate Bakos of Cate Bakos Property.
“It’s just seven kilometres from the CBD and serviced by great transport,” Bakos says. “It’s five stops to the city by train in the tightly-held primary school zone.”
South of Melbourne in the blue-chip area of Brighton, Biggen and Scott agent Trudy Biggen admits “you can’t buy much in Brighton for $1 million now.”
She recently sold a knockdown property on a 467-square-metre block for exactly $1 million.
It rents for just $450 per week, but the new owners are planning to lease the property until they get permits to build a new home.
It’s all about location, location, location, Biggen says.
“They’re moving from Black Rock, 15 to 20 minutes further south, because they want to be close to Brighton and walk everywhere,” she says. “They’ll build a new home for themselves. Not a big one, more like a downsizer home.
“They’re just one block, or a two-minute walk, to Church Street. That’s one of th4e best shopping area, with cafes and restaurants.”
Further south towards Frankston, $1 million would get you an absolute beachfront property, Bakos says.
With a median house price of $480,000 and a median unit price of $365,000, $1 million will take you much further in the ‘bargain’ city of Brisbane.
There are 15 suburbs in Queensland with a median price tag of $1 million or more.
But when you look at some of the blue-chip suburbs in the Sunshine State, you’ll find the homes are larger than the state’s southern counterparts.
Take a property in Mullin Street, Paddington that recently sold for $990,000. It has stunning city views, four bedrooms, three bathrooms and sits on a 607-square-metre block.
A sales price of $1 million would also get you a four-bedroom, two bathroom property in Bulimba, one of Brisbane’s blue-chip suburbs, right by some of the trendiest cafes and the city cat (ferry) terminal.
Anything between $900,000 and $1.1 million is doing very well at the moment, so that million price tag is attracting families who are upgrading and taking advantage of a rising Brisbane market and low interest rates.
“If you look at Camp Hill or Carina, you won’t buy much for less than half a million dollars,” Remax agent Tony Ugrinic says. “Upgrading families have the borrowing capacity to go there and (low) interest rates have also had an impact.”
Looking for a better deal? You could easily buy two for the price of one in Queensland or head south to the cheaper part of Brisbane and discover Logan.
You could get four houses for $1 million here, as most properties are around $250,000.
Western Australia has almost as many suburbs with a median of $1 million or more as Victoria.
Its median house price is $537,750 and median unit price is $430,000.
Hegney Property Group founding director Gavin Hegney says you could buy a large, beachfront property 50 kilometres north or south of Perth for $1 million.
If you’re looking for something closer to the city, you’d probably have to buy an apartment.
“If you have $1 million, that would get you a new two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Claremont,” he says.
“It will also get you a two-bedroom apartment on the beach at Leighton Beach, just near Fremantle.”
He says $1 million would also nab a “really nice home” within 15 kilometres of the CBD.
Areas like Woodlands, Wembley Downs, basically the western suburbs,” he says. “Also South Perth or Mount Lawley on smaller blocks.”
Cooling Canberra Market
The Canberra market has been slightly affected by the Federal Budget, but it’s still very much “steady as she goes,” according to Gordon Yeatman of Propell National Valuers.
The median house price is currently $565,000, while the median unit price is $396,000.
However, blue-chip suburbs still come with a hefty price tag and there are seven suburbs with a median house price of $1 million or more, along with one unit suburb.
If you’re keen to live or buy in one of the ACT’s most exclusive suburbs, Yarralumla, you need plenty of dough.
A four-bedroom, three bathroom property on a 917-square-metre block recently sold for $985,000.
It had a separate studio as well as being a brick home and the rental estimate for both combined was about $775 to $850 per week.
Yeatman says $1 million would get an investor or homebuyer a property right in the centre of the CBD or in a suburb nearby such as Ainslie.
“If would be a cavity-brick style, terracotta tile house, often already extended to four bedrooms,” he says.
“Or you could push further out in places like Nicholls, where you can get small mansions for that price.”
Alternatively, you might be able to pick up two properties further out again, in Farrer, he says. But even that’s now difficult to find if you’re keen on a three-bedroom house. “Outside of Farrer, I don’t think you’d find it,” he says.
Daring To Dream In Darwin
With seven suburbs holding a median price of $1 million or more in Darwin, this part of Australia is still holding up well.
But Herron Todd White Northern Territory director Terry Roth points out Darwin usually does the opposite of what Sydney and Melbourne are doing.
He says anyone with $1 million to spend would probably be better off buying two properties for $500,000 because cheaper properties tend to have stronger yields and a bigger rental pool.
“$1 million buys you an upmarket unit in Darwin in Larrekeyah or Fannie Bay,” Roth says.
“You could go that way or het an established house on a large block. But it would be difficult to get a strong yield for those, so I would buy two cheaper properties.”
He says Palmerston has “gone off a bit,” particularly for investors looking for a second-hand stock.
However, this area suffers when there are job layoffs, so the CBD area is usually more stable.
“I’d buy two units, as close to the CBD as possible,” he says. “Even two houses in the northern suburbs would be good, anywhere from Nightcliff and further out.”
However, he warns there has been a lot of development lately.
“That does concern me a bit, if we don’t keep getting growth in employment,” he says.
“But historically, the rental yield here is always higher than down south.”
Like Queensland, South Australia has 15 suburbs with a median price of $1 million or more.
Adelaide’s median house price is currently $413,000 while the median unit price is $331,000.
That basically means $1 million will take you a long way in the city of churches.
A four-bedroom, three bathroom character home in Fullarton recently sold for exactly $1 million.
Elder’s real estate agent Bill Gent says $1 million would allow buyers to snap up a nice property in the eastern suburbs.
“The market isn’t hysterically by any stretch of the imagination,” he says.
“But the good stuff always sells well in the eastern suburbs. Anything from $1 million to $1.5 million sells very well. There are always buyers for that, it doesn’t matter if the market is up or down.”
There are no suburbs in Hobart, or Tasmania for that matter, with a median price of $1 million or more. That means you could grab two or even three properties for $1 million.
Yep, you can buy four units for $1 million in Hobart! No wonder this island is shaped like a heart.
Herron Todd White valuer Mark Davies says you could buy a two unit in Collins Street, close to the CBD.
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom off-the-plan apartments there are currently selling for $500,000 each.
You might also venture down to Sandy Bay, where you could spend $1 million on a nice property.
Alternatively, you could buy three units on the eastern shore in a suburb such as Oakdowns.
“You’d get change from $1 million and they rent for $350 per well the return on investment down there is quite good,” he says. “You could also get between six and seven houses in Gagebrook with a good rental return.”
However, this would be a big risk, as it’s a lower-socio economic area.