Sydney’s inner southwest and the region just west of Parramatta have the bulk of the city’s “family friendly” suburbs where home buyers can get better deals and still be within reach of amenities.
Research by comparison site Finder.com.au, which surveyed suburbs by their home prices and mix of facilities for families, revealed suburbs in these regions tended to be cheaper, well-connected and, critically, often overlooked by home seekers.
This meant aspiring buyers often benefited from lower competition for housing and had a larger pool of affordable properties to choose from, which took pressure of them to rush into purchases.
The suburb of Punchbowl, roughly 17km southwest of the CBD, was declared the most affordable family friendly suburb in Sydney, followed by nearby suburbs Regents Park, Berala and Lakemba.
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Prospect, Merrylands and Pendle Hill were among the suburbs near Parramatta also declared affordable family friendly suburbs.
Finder.com.au noted these suburbs all had median unit prices under $550,000.
This put them in a rare category – just six per cent of all Sydney suburbs had units priced within this threshold.
Ray White agent John Yatman, a sales expert in the inner southwest, said many out-of-area residents had a misconception about Punchbowl and its surrounds and didn’t realise the lifestyle on offer.
“It was a rougher neighbourhood in the 1980s and 1990s and it had a stigma back then, but it has changed dramatically,” he said.
“It’s very family friendly now. There’s parks, sporting facilities, and it’s very easy to get the CBD, but most of the blocks are 500-600sqm and the homes are renovated.
“You can get a unit for under $600,000 or a house for $1.1 million. It’s amazing value for what you’re getting. You won’t get that anywhere else that close to the CBD. The whole area is undervalued.”
Mr Yatman said improvements in the area were similar to those in inner suburbs like Paddington, Surry Hills and Redfern in previous decades.
He added that once people moved to the Punchbowl area it was hard to get them to sell. “They’re usually pretty happy. They stay for good.”
Starr Partners director Daniel Starr said there was a similar offering in Merrylands, where home buyers benefited from all the amenities and services in nearby Parramatta, but had room to spread out.
“We’ve actually attracted buyers from further west because they realise that even though it’s slightly cheaper where they’re from, they actually get better value in Merrylands,” he said.
“Most people who don’t live around here don’t realise what it’s like. It has good shopping, lots of parks, lots of schools, the blocks are a decent size, 550-650sqm, and it’s a straight line to the CBD.”
PropTrack data showed home seekers could also get better deals in suburbs that recently had an uplift in listings, coupled with a drop in buyer demand.
Suburbs where there were about 30-80 per cent fewer buyers looking compared to last year, but nearly 10 per cent more houses to choose from, included Canada Bay, in the inner west, and Wollstonecraft on the lower north shore.
Others were Bondi Beach, Menangle, in the outer southwest, South Hurstville and Collaroy Plateau.
Suburbs where unit listings were up and demand was down, suggesting a buyer’s market, were Marsden Park, Frenchs Forest and North Strathfield and nearby Rhodes.
Avril Zhao bought a three-bedroom apartment in Rhodes Central, a development in Rhodes, and said it was something of a hidden gem for families and much more affordable than the inner west.
“Our unit has water views and there are recreation areas everywhere. It’s great for family outings,” she said.
“I think for the price we paid, we got a really good size. It was actually a great deal. We would never have got that closer to the city, but I feel everything is still really convenient here. We can get anything nearby, any time.”
Finder home loans expert Richard Whitten said knowing the affordable family locations would be more important than ever considering recent interest rises and the likelihood of more to come.
“Kids are expensive, and housing affordability has been a hot topic in Australia for years.
With interest rates rising, the market is now heading into uncharted territory: property prices may fall, but borrowing for a home loan will get much more expensive.
“The first steps for any buyer looking to enter the market are working out a realistic deposit size and property price. Then you need to work out how much you can realistically afford to borrow.
“And with rates rising, be sure to factor in higher interest rates. Maybe you can afford your mortgage repayments at 3 per cent. But what if your rate jumped to 5 per cent?”