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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