Sydney inner west – strongest property market or parking nightmare?

Auction clearance rates

Sydney’s inner west was recently dubbed by Dr Andrew Wilson from Australian Property Monitors as the hottest property market around metropolitan Sydney, a distinction based purely on auction clearance rates (see article below).

Although auction clearance rates is one of so many indicators of the strength of a property market, it should be remembered that auctions only account for a mere 12% of property sales in Australia. Therefore, to claim the inner west being the strongest market based purely on auction rates is somewhat misleading. Granted, its location of being so close to the CBD and attractions around Sydney makes certain suburbs in the inner west as popular as ever, especially among some of the young professionals and those seeking the hip and eclectic Sydney lifestyle.

The downside to inner west living is the level of human and car traffic where this locale is one of the most densely populated areas in the whole of Australia. You don’t even need to wait for peak hours to drive through King street along Newtown to understand that traffic congestion can drive people to avoid certain inner west areas like a plague. In addition, many properties around the inner west in suburbs such as Newtown, Erskineville, Surry Hills and Chippendale don’t have private car space or off street parking. Great lifestyle when you come home from a hard day’s work and having to circle your neighbourhood for half an hour only to find the nearest parking spot 100 metres away from your property. Better still, try carrying your six bags of groceries through 100 metres in the rain.

Some two-way streets in the inner west are so narrow that only one vehicle can drive through when cars are parked to the brim on either side of the road. Find an open driveway failing which you may have to reverse all the way back to where you came from depending on how you decide who has the right of way. Better still, try locating inconsiderate parkers who decided to dump their vehicle across your driveway (despite clear “no parking – day or night” signage on your gate as well as clear demarcation on your driveway) when you are late for an appointment.

To me, investing in the inner west in Sydney cannot be compromised with the absence of a car space as so many developers are increasingly building apartments that come without private parking. There may be an element of councils eager to keep millions of dollars raised from parking metres and fines each year and hence restricting the allotment of car spaces for new developments.

Private car spaces in the inner west are becoming so valuable that on-site parking for houses in Newtown, Erskineville and Marrickville can add between $70,000 to $120,000 to the value of a property. The inner west may offer a certain lifestyle to some but it certainly comes with a cost. As Sydney becomes even more congested in the near future, properties in the inner west which offer private and off street parking will become even more scarce and investors would be wise to tick this item on the investment checklist.

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How to choose and install a reverse cycle air-conditioning system for apartments?

Wall mounted Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioner

Wall mounted Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioner

Most older style apartments and units in Australia were built without air-conditioning or heating. New apartments coming onto the market these days are generally fitted with reverse cycle air-conditioning which are either ducted (built into the apartment) or split unit system where each room has individually fitted wall-mounted units with an external compressor unit.

Some newer apartments have also been wired for reverse cycle air-conditioning by the developer should owners choose to install these systems subject to approval of the Owners’ Corporation. In these cases, the developer and Owners’ Corporation will specify the specific model of the split unit system that owners can install to ensure the system is compatible with internal wiring and noise level requirements.

Depending on the size of the room or living areas, split unit systems are very efficient as they can either heat or cool a space of up to 60 – 70 sqm. These systems also generally use less electricity because unlike ducted systems, occupants have the option of only using the split units for certain areas as opposed to ducted systems where the entire apartment or townhouse will be heated or cooled when the system is turned on.

Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioning

Mitsubishi reverse cycle air-conditioning

I have found that although Mitsubishi and Daikin air-conditioners are slightly more expensive than other brands in the market,  the 5 kilowatt cooling and 5.8 kilowatt heating specifications are by far very effective for cooling or heating an area of up to about 70 sqm or more depending on the layout plan and positioning of the split unit. Bedrooms with smaller areas may only require models with a smaller heating / cooling capacity. Another great feature of these units is they are extremely silent and remote controls have a good working range around the entire room. Many developers and Owners’ Corporation also require these models to be fitted as the outdoor compressor units comply to noise level requirements.

Caution should be exercise in choosing the positioning of the outdoor compressor units as warm air being expelled from the unit may interfere with usability of the areas of the balcony or courtyard immediately next to the unit. Specially designed vents to redirect the warm air may be a solution to this issue if required.

Split level and maisonette style apartments should take into consideration whether the internal unit be install on the higher or lower levels depending on preference of heating and cooling during the winter and summer periods. Portable floor fans are extremely effective in redirecting hot air to lower levels and cool air to higher levels of split level apartments and town house by using the back of the fan as a suction device.

Portable floor fan

Portable floor fan

Prices may vary depending on capacity but generally range between $900 – $2,000 for both internal and external units. Installation will cost between $500 – $600 and it is important to choose a reputable installer. Not damaging walls and carpets is part of an experienced installer’s skill in addition to providing advice on the most effective position to install both the internal and external units.

I have also found Bing Lee to provide among the most competitive quotes for reverse cycle air-conditioning. They also have a list of installers but one needs to ascertain the installers are reputable as they are merely third party independent contractors.

External Mitsubishi compressor unit with specially fitted vents to redirect hot air

External Mitsubishi compressor unit with specially fitted vents to redirect hot air

18 Cove Avenue, Manly

18 Cove Avenue Manly 9

FOR SALE: 18 Cove Avenue Manly

4 bedroom 2 bathroom 1 car space

Price guide: $ 4 million +

Nestled along the water’s edge with a 30m wide frontage, this property has a commanding and unsurpassed view over Manly Cove. It is conveniently located in the prestige area on Manly’s Eastern Hill with easy walking distance to Little Manly Reserve, Manly wharf ferries and beaches.

The property occupies a 752 sqm level water frontage with a secluded street presence. Accommodation includesa palatial master bedroom with 180 degree water views. Two other double bedrooms have deep water front views and a third bedroom and a study includes original bathroom and separate shower recess and toilet. The living areas have French doors which open directly onto the sandstone water front terrace, pool and level lawns.

This property is up for auction onsite at 2.15pm on 16 April 2011.

Agent: Kingsley Looker of Cunninghans Property, mobile 0411 225 556

Where to find competitive home and content insurance

GIO’s fire and home content insurance premiums recently soared by up to 35%. I was told by a broker that GIO, being owned by Suncorp, was trying to recoup losses it suffered from claims payout as a result of the recent floods in Queensland.

I did some research and found that Real Insurance had some of the most competitive quotes for fire and home content insurance which rendered my renewal notices from GIO to be ridiculously expensive. One can choose from different excess amounts to suit the premiums to be paid and policies have a 30-day cooling off period from inception provided no claims are made during this period. I found the service of staff to be knowledgeable and helpful and the renewals of my policies have saved hundreds of dollars from the switch to Real Insurance.

Contact real insurance to find out if your current premiums are competitive.

Real Insurance

Guidelines to obtaining approval for Development Application (DA) or Planning Permit (PP)

Application for planning permit - the process

In New South Wales and Victoria, the application to subdivide, renovate or develop property is called a Development Application (DA) and Planning Permit (PP) respectively.  The chances for obtaining an approval for a DA from the local council can be improved by following a few guidelines which are designed to facilitate transparent communication between the applicant and the council.

1. Find a good project manager / consultant

A consultant who is knowledgeable and well-versed with local planning laws and building codes will be able to provide critical advice on the feasibility of a proposed development. It is ideal to choose a consultant with a good track record for project managing similar developments within the suburb and one who has previously dealt with the local municipality / council for the suburb. This will ensure familiarity with local council guidelines which may vary from one council to another. More importantly, the consultant may have previously dealt with planning officers within the council and understand critical requirements of council to maximise the chances of any potential DA to be approved.

2. Comply to building and construction codes

A consultant who is well-versed with local building and construction codes will also be able to provide advice and design initial drawings and building plans which will comply to these codes. This important step will ensure there are no potential constraints or issues which are against planning laws that will hinder or delay the application process.

3. Arrange for a pre-application meeting with council

It is important to arrange for a pre-application meeting with council to establish and develop a relationship with the relevant planning officer who will be assigned to the application. It is not unusual to have more than one or two pre-application meetings whilst the design and building plans are being drawn to obtain feedback to fine-tune the drawings to ensure they satisfy all council requirements. This step can also be seen from council’s point of view that the applicant wishes to have a consultative approach and co-operate with council to ensure all requirements are met. Some councils have daily planning meetings where applicants can make appointment to discuss their proposed plans with council. This is a good approach to take before making key decisions that require financial and time commitments on the project.

4. Develop cordial relations with surrounding neighbours

If council is satisfied that all requirements to building and construction codes are complied with, the council will advise the application is then ready to be advertised where a signage is required to be erected on the proposed site to inform the neighbours of the proposed development. The council will usually also arrange for letters to be sent to neighbours within the vicinity of the proposed development to advise them of the same. Sometimes, neighbours can be concerned about how the proposed development will affect their property and will raise their concerns and objections during the advertisement period which is usually for a period of 14 days. Therefore, it is also important to engage and develop good relationships with neighbours as a basis to alleviate their concerns and assure them of a positive outcome from the development.

5. Follow-up process with council

Follow-up activity with council is important to ensure the application process is on track and within stipulated time-frames. Any objections from neighbours should also be analysed to see if such objections relate to any contravention of planning laws which may delay or halt the application process. If the objections do not relate to a breach of planning laws, then the project manager / consultant should try to obtain feedback from council on the likelihood of approval.

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1038/2 Marquet street, Rhodes, New South Wales

Unit 1038, 2 Marquet street, Rhodes, New South Wales 1

Unit 1038, 2 Marquet street, Rhodes, New South Wales

2 bedroom 2 bathroom, 1 car space

Mortgagee in possession

This property is part of the Sienna By the Bay resort-style apartments in Rhodes which was developed by Meriton. Living space including balcony is approximately 124 sqm. This near new apartment has modern conveniences such as reverse cycle split-unit air-conditioners, gas kitchen with European appliances internet and cable TV connections in the study. Other features include:

  • 24-hour security and on-site building manager to attend to maintenance and service for occupants
  • secured car space with separate 3 sqm storage cage facility
  • Strong maintenance and service level by Meriton ensure immaculately kept gardens, gymnasium, pool, sauna and spa for residents
  • 3 minute walk to water foreshores of Homebush Bay
  • 3 minute walk to Rhodes train station which is 6 stops to Central station in the heart of Sydney CBD
  • 5 minute walk to the conveniences of childcare, banks, post office supermarket and shops at Rhodes Shopping Centre
  • Located within the Rhodes Business Park precinct which now includes multinationals such as Hewlett Packard, National Australia Bank, Nestle, Australand, Unisys, Alcatel Lucent and Lion Nathan which would provide strong tenant proposition for investors.
  • Public amenities and local attractions which include water foreshore parks like McLiwaine Park, King George V Park, Bicentennial Park, Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway along Brays Bay Reserve, Sydney Olympic Park facilities and Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

Council rates: $225 per quarter, Water rates: $130 per quarter, Strata levies: $1,217 per quarter

Agent: Mr Tee Jay Seo of Rhodes Realty. Mobile 0423 106 540

1048/2 Marquet street, Rhodes, New South Wales

Unit 1048, 2 Marquet street, Rhodes, New South Wales 1

Unit 1048, 2 Marquet street, Rhodes, New South Wales

2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 car space

Asking price: $679,000

This property is part of the Sienna By the Bay resort-style apartments in Rhodes which was developed by Meriton. Living space including balcony is approximately 110 sqm. This near new apartment has modern conveniences such as reverse cycle split-unit air-conditioners, gas kitchen with European appliances internet and cable TV connections in the study. Other features include:

  • 24-hour security and on-site building manager to attend to maintenance and service for occupants
  • secured car space with separate 3 sqm storage cage facility
  • Strong maintenance and service level by Meriton ensure immaculately kept gardens, gymnasium, pool, sauna and spa for residents
  • 3 minute walk to water foreshores of Homebush Bay
  • 3 minute walk to Rhodes train station which is 6 stops to Central station in the heart of Sydney CBD
  • 5 minute walk to the conveniences of childcare, banks, post office supermarket and shops at Rhodes Shopping Centre
  • Located within the Rhodes Business Park precinct which now includes multinationals such as Hewlett Packard, National Australia Bank, Nestle, Australand, Unisys, Alcatel Lucent and Lion Nathan which would provide strong tenant proposition for investors.
  • Public amenities and local attractions which include water foreshore parks like McLiwaine Park, King George V Park, Bicentennial Park, Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway along Brays Bay Reserve, Sydney Olympic Park facilities and Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

Council rates: $216 per quarter, Water rates: $126 per quarter, Strata levies: $902 per quarter

Agent: Mr Tee Jay Seo of Rhodes Realty. Mobile 0423 106 540

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