20 affordable suburbs set to boom by 2020: expert picks

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Take heart, property investors! While prices may have soared out of reach in some locations, there are still exciting prospects in others - even in the same city.

If you listen to or read any mainstream media, you would think that property values all around the country are falling. But that's not the full story.

The market is broad and diverse, and as such is made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of sub-markets, each subject to a unique set of price influences. Yet given the strong media attention on Sydney and Melbourne, it's easy to forget this.

600k suburbs

In fact, right now across Australia there are markets that are booming while, yes, there are others in decline. The true challenge or skill is knowing which one to buy in right now.


For property buyers and investors alike, it's crucial to find markets in which demand exceeds supply. But how is this done?

To determine the LocationScore for each suburb and property type, we combine eight metrics: auction clearance rates, days on market, vendor discount, renter propotion, vaancy rate, rental yield, percentage of stock on market, and online search interest.

Some metrics are more important than others, so we allocate each one an importance rating. Then we combine all eight metrics based on their relative importance into one overall score.

This top 20 lists contain the top markets as ordered by LocationScore for each price range. It's these markets that, in our view, have a better chance of experiencing immediate capital growth than markets with lower scores, indicating declining or soft demand.

Historically, 83% of the top 20 LocationScore markets have outperformed the national average growth rate over the next three years. What is also interesting is that quite often the LocationScore top 20 had growth rates that were double the national average, reinforcing the fact that the law of supply and demand influences price movement in property.

Property for around $600k

At this price you can get much more for your money. Although these suburbs have already seen good growth, demand is still strong and supply is limited.

We are starting to push into a price point that offers more bang for buck, as in some locations you are now starting to shop in the upper-class bracket.

As per our list, this budget also brings you into a couple of the bigger income cities, such as Melbourne and Canberra, and we are also getting some land as part of this equation.

Three of the top suburbs

Dunlop, ACT 2615 - houses

One of the best markets around the $600,000 price tag is Dunlop houses. The suburb is about 5km north-west of Belconnen and another 15 minutes' drive into Canberra central. It sits next to two markets in our $500,000 price range, Charnwood and Macgregor.

The LocationScore for June was 79. This is a few points lower than the markets in the cheaper price ranges. But it is still in the "excellent" range, which starts at 77.

The LocationScore for Dunlop houses has been steadily rising for the past three years. It spent most of the last year above 75 and has edged into the 80s a couple of times.

The standout metric for June was the vacancy rate. It has been better than average for over two years now and finished June at 0.26%. That level is considered extremely tight and can mean only more confidence for landlords.

The average discount from the original asking price for June was 4.37%. Our benchmark for "normal" is 5%. However, for all the markets in this report, exceptional statistics are expected and 4.27% isn't exceptional. Nothing to worry about - just a little mediocre, that's all.

There was one concerning metric, however. The online search interest was only 37, which is about half as good as the national average. Ideally, we'd like to see more searches being conducted per property.

Ferntree Gully, Victoria 3156 - units

Ferntree Gully is about an hour's drive east of the Melbourne CBD. This is the only unit market in our report.

As a general rule, investors should favour housing markets for long-term growth. Units have higher risk of poor growth over the long term. It's too easy for a developer to acquire a house or two nearby and knock them down to replace them with a big unit complex.

Remember that supply is the enemy of capital growth. For the short term, however, unit markets can be lucrative, especially in small boutique complexes, so aim to buy a villa unit with good land content rather than something above ground level.

Some properties in Ferntree Gully that look like houses are listed by selling agents as units. They may share a wall with another dwelling in a strata-titled block or be an add-on to the side of a house.

The LocationScore for Ferntree Gully units at the end of June was 79.

Some of the metrics contributing to this high score include: - A vacancy rate of 0.25% - tight! - Over 200 searches conducted online per property available. - Percentage stock on market of 0.33%. - Auction clearance rates above 80%. - Properties selling in a little more than a month.

However, there could be a problem for investors jumping into this market right now - it's already had some big gains over the past few years.

Prices have risen by 40% in the past three years. Although demand is still high relative to supply, the extreme rate of growth must come to an end sooner or later.

Gladstone Park, Victoria 3043 - houses

This suburb is about 45 minutes north of the Melbourne CBD and just east of Tullamarine Airport. Houses in Gladstone Park had a LocationScore of 78 at the end of June 2018.

Prices had a big spurt in 2017, piling on around 20%. This market has not been left out of the Melbourne boom but still has some growth left, according to the indicators.

Of particular note are the fast selling times, at around 27 days. Buyers have obviously missed out on previous opportunities and now have their finance sorted and are making confident offers quickly.

The auction clearance rate was quite high at about 82% at the end of June. Clearance rates have been consistently above 75% for the past three years. Buyers would be frustrated at missing out and might be making strong offers before the auction date.

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Ben Kingsley is partner of specialist property investment advisory firm Empower Wealth and co-author of The Armchair Guide to Property Investing. He co-hosts The Property Couch podcast, and is chair of Property Investment Professionals of Australia.

Bryce Holdaway is partner of specialist property investment advisory firm Empower Wealth and co-author of The Armchair Guide to Property Investing. He co-hosts The Property Couch podcast, and Location Location Location Australia on Foxtel.

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