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Suburbs such as Bellevue Hill and Vaucluse recorded the highest median house prices last year, but they weren’t the most expensive Sydney neighbourhoods when measured by the price paid per square metre.
Paddington, with its smaller residential blocks, recorded the highest median price per square metre of land at $25,755, Domain data for 2022 shows, and a string of other inner-city and coastal pockets also commanded premiums for space.
Properties in Paddington recorded the largest price per square metre in the country last year. Credit:Flavio Brancaleone
Houses in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills sold for upwards of $20,000 per square metre, while blocks in Redfern, Chippendale and Darlington sold for more than $16,000, and Glebe blocks sold for almost $14,800.
Tamarama had the second-highest median, at almost $25,700 per square metre. Beachside Bronte and Bondi, and waterfront McMahons Point, Balmain East and Birchgrove, were also among the most expensive.
Sydney-wide, the median sits at $2466 per square metre, up about 140 per cent over the decade, although the most sought-after suburbs are ten times as high.
Of the top 25 most expensive medians nationally, all bar one was in Sydney.
Domain chief of research and economics Dr Nicola Powell said escalating costs over the years reflected buyers’ preference to live close to the city or coast, and the value placed on lifestyle, location and proximity to amenities and infrastructure.
To purchase close to the Sydney median, buyers would need to look to suburbs like Auburn ($2,471 per square metre), Narwee ($2,468) and Kurnell ($2,441), all more than 15 kilometres from the CBD.
The lowest cost per square metre was for large blocks and acreage on the city’s outskirts, dropping as low as $500 in Grasmere and $517 in Ellis Lane, but a typical home here, sitting on more than 4000 square metres, will cost upwards of $2 million.
Powell said Sydney block sizes had declined over the past decade, but prices had climbed, leaving buyers paying more for less land. While shrinking blocks — and increased supply of medium density housing — could help slow house price growth, the premiums paid for land would keep climbing.
“The thing that appreciates over time is the actual dirt…and where that land sits, and with growing population and urban density increasing, it means the price of land over time is going to keep increasing,” she said.
In the eastern suburbs, PPD Real Estate’s Alexander Phillips said prices paid in Tamarama and Bronte could range from $10,000 to $40,000 per square metre, depending on their proximity to the water and views. Most interest was from locals, who already knew and enjoyed the lifestyle, and prioritised this over block size.
“Everyone is trying to capitalise on their small blocks,” he added, resulting in higher floor space ratios, which were also contributing to price growth.
Matthew Carvalho, of Ray White Surry Hills and Glebe, said price growth over the years, and small block sizes, meant homes in the region commanded some of Sydney’s highest premiums per square metre.
Suburbs like Chippendale and Darlinghurst tended to appeal more to young professionals, Carvalho said, as they had the smallest blocks, just 102 and 108 square metres on Domain data. Suburbs like Glebe, with a median of 165 square metres, appealed to more buyers, including young families and downsizers.
His clients and long-time Glebe locals Lance and Christine Haigh, have loved the lifestyle offered by the area. With plans to make a sea change to northern NSW, to be closer to children and grandchildren, they’ve put their three-bedroom terrace, home to four generations of their family, on the market.
“We’ve loved the lifestyle … and we’ll find it hard to replace,” Christine said. “Glebe has everything you would need. You’d walk to … shops, restaurants, and you can hop on a bus and be in town in ten minutes.”
Lance said it had come a long the way from the working-class suburb he knew as a child, with doctors and lawyers now among their neighbours, and more young families once again calling the suburb home.
Downsizers Lance and Christine Haigh have been long time Glebe locals but are now selling.Credit:Jessica Hromas
Greg Copeland, director of My Property Consultants in the Macarthur region, said acreage in suburbs like Grasmere and Ellis Lane, had equal demand from locals and those seeking a tree change close to the city.
“They’re both three to four kilometres from Camden… it’s probably one of the closest places that you can be on an acre and still have all …those facilities at your doorstep,” he said.
“They’re getting ten times the amount of land that they would have in the city, if they’re going from a 400-square-metre block to one acre … plus the house size will often be twice as much as well.”
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