10 quick ways to sniff out great locations before anybody else

First published 17/7/2013

Finding the right location is crucial to ensure strong long-term capital growth, but amid the noise of real estate agents, friends and family and your own prejudices to areas – how do you know for sure that an area’s investment potential stacks up? Here are 10 steps.

1. Know your budget

For most buyers, your budget dictates which areas you can afford to live in or invest. “The best way to determine your budget is to meet with a mortgage broker or lender and obtain a pre-approval,” says Lisa Parker, buyers advocate from Parker Investment Properties. “Knowing your budget is a must before you begin your search.”

2. Narrow down your options

With your budget locked down, you’re in a position to choose from a short-listed number of suburbs where you can purchase your desired property within your price range. Parker suggests you save yourself some time by ringing agents in the area. “Ask what you can buy in their suburb within that price range, and if you can’t buy what you are looking for, ask which suburbs nearby will offer the type of property you want in your budget,” she advises.

3. Map your suburb

Most suburbs have preferred pockets. To best understand the suburb you’re exploring, take a map down to the local estate agent’s office and ask them to map out with a highlighter the different ‘pockets’ in order of popularity. In time, the suburb as a whole will gain in value and the less sought after pockets will become more popular, as the preferred pockets rise rapidly in price – but if you can get into a better pocket up front, you should enjoy faster capital growth.

4. Explore neighbouring suburbs

Neighbouring suburbs offer great options for homebuyers and investors. For example, if you go to your favoured suburb and find that you can’t get the type of property you want in your budget, move to either side of that suburb until you find one that suits your budget and offers the qualities and features you’re seeking. 

5. Follow the infrastructure

“Infrastructure drives property prices, which is why experienced investors follow infrastructure trends,” Parker says. “The EastLink did a lot to boost prices in areas like Seaford and Ringwood in Melbourne back in 2008, and the extension to Mornington – which commenced construction late 2010 – is already having an impact on areas not usually favoured, like Frankston North, Karingal and Carrum Downs.” She suggests that you look at where the government is upgrading infrastructure, as it is a sure sign of an up and coming “hot spot”.

6. Isolate lifestyle attractions

Areas that offer lifestyle attractions are favoured by buyers and renters when compared with other suburbs that offer fewer amenities. “Walking tracks, large family parks and bushland, creeks, beaches and small community villages all offer unique point of difference,” Parker says.

7. Water and city views rule

Enjoying water or CBD views is a major plus for any suburb. “In Seaford, Victoria, for example, buying on the beachside of the freeway commands an additional $100,000 more than similar properties on the eastern side of the freeway,” Parker explains. “The gap between beachside and non-beachside properties is increasing each year, making it more unaffordable for many new homebuyers and investors to get into the beachside market.”  

8. Hang where the locals hang

“When investigating a new area, ask the agent why people like living here,” Parker advises. “Then, pop down to the suburb’s most popular spots, whether that’s a local family friendly picnic area or coffee spot, and observe the type of atmosphere and people who are there.”

9. Transport is important

Regardless of whether you live in the inner city or outer areas, transport is important. “The more transport options available in a suburb, the more valuable the suburb will become over time,” Parker says. “Easy access to major roads and freeways is a major plus for outer suburbs, because the easier it is to travel to the CBD or other major employment hubs, the better the suburb will be for most buyers.”

10. Don’t listen to the naysayers

“There are many suburbs across every state that locals will caution against buying in. But sometimes, having a fresh set of eyes without knowing about a suburb’s ‘stigma’ can work in your favour, because you’re looking at the suburb based on the fundamental merits that make a suburb valuable,” Parker explains. “Stigmas will always be forgotten in time – and you will be pleased you bought into the suburb while it was still cheap.”

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Top Suburbs : woolloongabba , campsie , tuart hill , tweed heads south , ferntree gully

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