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Property Hotspots: Fashion or Affordability?

’The next property hot spot!’ is a real estate catchcry used to unveil a suburb in which there is a window of opportunity to purchase property prior to that suburb experiencing a rise in capital value.

So where exactly is the next suburb ‘hot spot’ going to be? Do hot spots really exist and if they do what are the driving forces behind a particular suburb's growth in popularity?

More often than not a hot spot is where an influx of population occurs as a result of new and established infrastructure, amenity, education and therefore opportunity. Education is Victoria’s number 1 export and a fine example of an historical hot spot are the suburbs surrounding Melbourne University, namely Carlton and Fitzroy. No longer hot spots, they are now classified as blue chip suburbs as they have experienced capital growth, have strong rental demand and are tightly held.

So I want to purchase in Carlton but can’t due to supply or budget, so where to next? The adjoining suburbs of North Melbourne, West Melbourne and north to Brunswick; these suburbs are a natural progression from Carlton where development sites have been exhausted and developers are moving toward the aforementioned suburbs to acquire development sites where supply can be delivered to market.

Staying on the education theme, suburbs surrounding Monash University Campuses such as Caulfield and Clayton are hot spots as they are generally established housing areas and going through a transition towards medium density dwelling development.

Now to the age-old north versus south of the river: Richmond versus South Yarra. Never the twain shall meet, the battle used to be on like Donkey Kong. Now the heavyweight suburbs are Abbotsford and Windsor not only as the extension of demand from Richmond to Abbotsford and South Yarra to Windsor but for everything in between – prospective purchasers now consider all four suburbs as part of their selection criteria.

Established residential suburbs can also be classified as hot spots. To coin a phrase ‘property swap’ suburb corridors of Bundoora + Heidelberg and Preston + Coburg are hot spots. ‘Property swap’ is a scenario where parents are contemplating downsizing in the future as their children desire to enter the property market, however due to affordability of the established property market in that particular suburb, only an apartment seems affordable.

The collective family housing strategy then becomes an apartment being bought in close proximity to the family home, the children move into the apartment and at the point where the parents wish to begin downsizing and the children wish to expand their families, they swap properties.

Looking elsewhere and the west is rising, but where exactly are the suburb's market demand origins? This term is used flippantly however in this circumstance the hipster or cultural creative is one - a community of people embracing rejuvenation of the urban environment - have moved from Collingwood to Brunswick and Northcote and they now seek Footscray's affordability.

Hipster and cultural creatives are adaptable, analytical & intelligent placing them at the forefront of the curve, included is this scenario is that Footscray is 6kms from the Melbourne CBD, has 2 Victorian University campuses and 3 train stations which frankly makes it a no brainer.

Skipping back over the river and demand for the Albert Park - St Kilda - Brighton corridor is continually steady for the fact that the remaining apartment development sites are few and far between. Demand flow moves as follows for first home buyer and first time investor based on affordability to suburbs such as Cheltenham. Second time owner occupier and investor property purchasers look closer to Melbourne’s CBD: to South Melbourne and the extension thereof into Australia’s largest urban renewal area Fishermans Bend.

We have not even touched upon South Morang, Frankston or Dandenong as prospective outer suburban hot spots. Ultimately though a prospective buyer's needs and desires are factors but what buyers really desire is affordability close to existing or new infrastructure and amenity. A ‘Property Swap’ is one thing, generations of renters is another.

Cameron Clarke is the principal and founder of My Real Estate Mate and Apartment Register.

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