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Advice

What to look for in a suburb before buying

We’ve all heard the mantra “Location, Location, Location”, but what are the real suburb features you need to look out for when purchasing a property? Regardless of whether you are buying a home or investment, it’s essential you get to know the neighbourhood before moving in. Here are some key factors to consider prior to taking the plunge.

Live like a local

After finding the suburb you want to purchase in, it’s time to check it out. Spend a day driving through its main streets, visiting the local shops and cafés and getting a feel for the local community. Don’t be afraid to have a chat with your potential neighbours, after all they know the area best. Is the suburb considered safe, peaceful and quiet in the evenings? Visit the property at different times of the day, and even different days of the week, to get a better idea of the surroundings and what’s going on.

Access to amenities

Make sure you’ll have access to the lifestyle amenities you deem important, such as parks and green spaces, walking tracks, bike trails, beaches, fitness centres or gyms. No matter whether you are buying a home to live in or property to rent, understanding the local amenities is paramount. If you are purchasing a family home, consider the local school catchment area and access to good schools, both public and private. Are there public transport links such as a train station or bus routes? No matter where you live, access to transport is important particularly for those commuting to and from work. If you’re planning on buying in the outer suburbs, make sure the property is well connected to major roads and freeways.

Zoning and proposed planning

During your research, be sure to find out if there are any major projects such as infrastructure, commercial or large-scale residential developments happening in the area. Any proposed development could greatly affect the quality of living in the short and long term, and property prices down the track. As a general rule, infrastructure drives property prices so look at where the government is making changes. However, if you’re investing, it’s always safer to stick to a suburb with a strong track record of population growth, not simply one that’s undergoing mass development.

Future price growth

Take the time to consider the suburb’s potential future price growth. There are some key trends to know if you’re purchasing in a rising suburb, such as low rental vacancy rates, sought-after neighbouring suburbs and homes selling as soon as they hit the market. If you are purchasing an investment, chose a suburb with a high proportion of renters – no less than 30 per cent – as this will help maximise your returns down the track. Consider a suburb’s gentrification and changing demographics of an area to better understand the market and its renters. Regardless of whether you are purchasing a property to live or rent, it’s always worth knowing how much you could lease it out for in the future.

Other things to consider

There are a number of other things to consider when choosing a suburb to live or invest in. For example, is the suburb well connected with mobile and internet coverage and does it have access to the NBN? Is it close to hospitals or medical centres? Suburbs that are home to large employers can be highly appealing to prospective tenants, as people want to live close to work. Another factor to keep in mind is the general attractiveness of the suburb. Tree-lined streets and pretty architecture can add real value to your property over time, along with clean footpaths and good street lighting.

By Ellie Schneider