What Half a Million Buys You in the City, Coast and Country


Unfortunately $500,000 won’t buy the great Australian dream in Hawthorn – but it will get you into the market with an unrenovated single fronted cottage.

Maurice DiMarzio of Jellis Craig Hawthorn says it will pick up a semi-detached brick or timber 2-bedroom cottage in a good location around Glenferrie Road. Block sizes are small – between 200 and 300 square metres, but off street parking for one car is usually included.

Most homes of this type include a small living room and meals area off the kitchen and are between 8 to 12 square.

“Alternatively, you may be able to secure a partially renovated semi-detached cottage in what’s perceived to be a secondary location, like a main road or close to a train line,” said Mr DiMarzio.



It’s quite a different story north-side of the Yarra River.

In Coburg, you could buy a renovated Californian Bungalow or Edwardian in one of the suburb’s highly sought after pockets. Homes are typically 18 to 20 square and include at least three bedrooms, a formal lounge and a large kitchen/meals area, according to Noel Kenny, sales manager with Brad Teal Real Estate Coburg.

The price also buys polished floorboards, a rear entertaining deck, established rear garden and off street car parking. Homes in this price range are usually restored to a high quality and include bay windows, leadlights and fire places.



Meshing the inner-city to the middle suburbs, Elsternwick has an eclectic mix of high quality period homes, of varying size.

An outlay of $500,000 will buy a renovated miners cottage in streets such as Edward, Prentice or Regent Street, says Marshall Rushford, director of Hocking Stuart Caulfield. Expect a fully renovated modern large terrace of more than 10 square with 2 double bedrooms with built in robes, above-average sized living/dining room, courtyard garden, polished boards, ducted heating, air conditioning and a security system.

Period fireplaces, leadlights and decorative ceilings are usually restored – but agents warn not to get your hopes up for off-street parking.



A price point of $500,000 will buy you into one of Werribee’s newest estates, a short drive from the bay at Werribee South, or Point Cook.

Properties in this price range are generally on large 1000 square metre blocks, says Rohan Smith, director of Jens Gaunt Real Estate Werribee . Homes range in size between 30 to 45 square, and include four or more bedrooms, two living zones, entertainment area and large landscaped gardens.

“The home will possess quality fittings and fixtures throughout,” says Mr Smith.


Box Hill

Box Hill is a diverse suburb with its fair share of period homes – but for $500,000, you’d be looking at the variety of 1960s and 1970s family homes. Because homes are on large blocks of more than 700 square metres, many buyers find themselves muscled out of the market by developers – particularly in the pocket which borders Surrey Hills.

Homes around the train station but outside of the commercial hub are within reach – but will be basic, says Jeremy Desmier of Fletchers North Balwyn.

For the money you get a 12 square, somewhat dated post war 3 bedroom, 1-bathroom weatherboard or brick veneer home which is presentable and livable. Unfortunately however, you’ll pretty much be paying for land only. “The price difference between cleared blocks and those with a modest home on it is very little.”



You’d be hard pressed to find better bang for your buck than in the burgeoning suburb of Epping, in Melbourne’s north.

Daniel Taylor of Stockdale and Leggo in Epping says $500,000 will pick up a brand new, 5-bedroom luxury home of more than 40 square. With all the trimmings including modern fit-out, European appliances, heating and cooling, homes include three living areas, separate study, landscaped gardens and double lock up garage on a block of around 700 square metres.

“Some homes also have uninterrupted views of the city skyline,” said Mr Taylor. “If you’re prepared to travel ten minutes further, $500,000 will buy a large ranch style home on 6 acres in Eden Park.”


Hampton East

“Hampton East has come a long way since it’s name change from Moorabbin,” says Robert Bowman, director of Ray White Hampton.

Put $500,000 on the table, and you could get an unrenovated 3-bedroom 1950s to 1970s home with one bathroom, in one of the suburb’s better streets. Land size is typically between 600 to 700 square metres and most properties come with a single lock-up garage.

“Alternatively it will buy a place with minor updating over the last few years, but in a lesser street,” said Mr Bowman.

Many Hampton East residents have been drawn to townhouses which typically start around $500,000. For that, you get a near new two bedroom plus study home with double lock up garage on a half block of land up to 350 square metres.

Mr Bowman adds that prices of family homes in inner bayside suburbs like Hampton, Elwood and Elsternwick have pushed up prices in the inland suburb.



If a house on land sounds like too much work, there’s a variety of luxury inner-city apartment options for $500,000.

Eugene Louey of Barry Plant Port Melbourne says you can pick up an 8 to 10 square 2-bedroom, 2-bathroon apartment in Docklands NewQuay tower. Most apartments are mid-rise (around the 10th floor) and include a balcony, car space and views of the CBD or Port Phillip Bay.



You might not be able to see the water, but you can hear it and walk to it, if you invested $500,000 in Torquay.

In old Torquay, you could pick up a 1980s four-bedroom brick veneer some 200 metres from the beach, and on land of about 1000 square metres. Agents say rebuilding might offer ocean glimpses, but not to bet on it – those blocks are usually competed for by developers. The most recent example was a 2-bedroom 1950s weatherboard, on a 1200 square metre block, which sold for $482,000 in March.

If you’re firm on the water views, Torquay has plenty of affordable town-house options on half blocks, agents say. “Four bedroom modern homes with ocean peeps are available for around $500,000,” said Maurie Dale, of LJ Hooker Torquay.



If city living is not for you, then $500,000 will got a long way to buying a dream in provincial Victoria.

In Lockwood South, about a fifteen minute drive from Bendigo, half a million buys you a Western Red Cedar home and barn on about 20 acres, says Lockwood Real Estate’s Marg Glohe. For the cost of an unrenovated terrace in Hawthorn, you could get foaling paddocks, a gym, guest quarters and a dam guaranteeing continuing water supply.

Homes include upwards of 3-bedrooms with cathedral ceilings, open fireplaces, split system heating and cooling and high quality fittings, says Ms Glohe.

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Marc Pallisco

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