Melbourne’s best performing suburbs this year

This year has seen median house prices slow in most Melbourne suburbs – but some areas are bucking the trend:

EAST: KEW

The leafy eastern suburb has been one of the city’s stronger performers for five years.

Noel Jones Kew director Bruce Severns said the majority of residents choose Kew because its schools and amenity.

Buyers often relocate when they have outgrown inner eastern areas like Abbotsford, Richmond, and Fairfield.

“Inner-city terrace homes are fine for a couple, and may be big enough to cope with a first child,” the agent said.

“But when a second child comes along, and especially starts walking, families want bigger homes surrounded by more land”.

Entry-level Kew homes – liveable three-bedroom terraces without parking  – start at about $600,000.

Larger basic homes achieve about $800,000, the agent added.

In May, a suburb record was set when the 120-year-old La Verna in Sackville St sold for c$12m.

Mr Severns added it is common “for buyers to sell a five or six-bedroom family home for about $3m, and buy a smaller, newer home for between $1.8-$2.5m.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, Kew’s median house price rose 44.8 per cent increase for the year to July, 2008 – to $1.495m.

Since 2003, median values have recorded an annual growth rate of 16.4pc, pipping other strong-performing eastern suburbs such as Balwyn (14.1pc annual growth rate to $1.245 million) and Hawthorn (13.7pc annual growth rate to $1.217 million).

SOUTH: MENTONE

On paper, Mentone may be 28pc cheaper than neighbouring Beaumaris, but on or around Beach Road, prices don’t vary much.

Hocking Stuart Mentone senior sales consultant Irene Casey said top-end buyers don’t discriminate – with consistent high demand for houses fronting Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary in Beaumaris through to Mentone, Parkdale and Mordialloc.

“Many people moving from the city, however, tend to start off border-specific, usually drawing the line at Beaumaris,” Ms Casey added.

“But once they cross over and see the beaches and full range of facilities available in Mentone, most open themselves up to opportunities there.”

Mentone Girls Secondary, Mentone Grammar and St Bede’s College, are drawcards, according to the agent.

Top-end homes on Beach Road, Mentone, would be worth in excess of $2.5m, she estimates.

At the opposite end of the market – otherwise known as “the airport side of Warrigal Road” – unrenovated homes on c600 sqm blocks are less than $500,000.

Homes under the Moorabbin Airport flight path can sell for $50,000 lower than that..

Any closure of the airport would increase median values c10pc, Ms Casey estimates..

According to the REIV, median values in Mentone increased 36.4pc to $750,000 for the year to July 31.

WEST: BRAYBROOK, MAIDSTONE

Few Melbourne suburbs in Melbourne offer better bang for your buck than Braybrook in the west – but you might have to use your imagination to find personality in some of its most affordable pockets.

Eight kilometres from town, 1930s homes c600 sqm blocks can be purchased for c$300,000.

This compares to Coburg North, Canterbury or Caulfield – all the same distance to the CBD as Braybrook – where only apartments can be purchased on that budget.

NORTH: NIDDRIE

Niddrie is about 10 kilometres north west of Melbourne between Essendon and Airport West.

It retains many 1950s weatherboards, cream and red brick homes.

The suburb is also well-serviced by transport (train, tram and bus) and near schools including Penleigh and Essendon Grammar, Lowther Hall and St Columba’s College.

There is a steep price difference between Niddrie and Essendon, though.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, the former’s median house value rose 40pc in the year ending July, 2008, to $595,000.

The median house price in the latter was $813,000, up 24.8pc.

Across Melbourne, median values increased a more modest 15.3pc (to $448,000) over the same period. Most of that rise happened in 2007, when the market was still booming.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.

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