Are Tired Misconceptions Blinding You from Sydney’s Next Boom Suburbs?

For most who live within 10 or 20km of the centre of Sydney, the West seems to be considered a sprawling void of fibro shacks and bogans. This ignorance might be funny to those of us enjoying the west (life is peaceful here!), but if you’re a property investor who’s written off the western suburbs without checking your facts, you could be passing up big opportunities.

I live in Kings Langley, located 45km from the Sydney CBD, and whenever I mention that I live ‘near Blacktown’, more often than not I get asked ‘Is it safe?’ Well, it is certainly is safe. The Microburbs Safety Score, based in NSW on Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data, rates Kings Langley at 9/10, which is miles ahead of the trendy inner suburbs. With the North West Metro coming in less than 3 years, the area is set to be cracked wide open, and by the time Sydney wakes up to what’s on offer, investors will have missed the boat.

Bella Vista

Bella Vista is among some of the most well known suburbs in Sydney to those who have never stepped foot in the west. A key selling point for this suburb is not just the abundance of palatial two storey homes but also the well designed landscaping and large public parks. The share of land between commercial precincts and residential areas has also been well balanced.

The Norwest business park is a 5 minute drive away and already hosts offices from big companies like Woolworths, PwC, Schneider and Resmed. Expected completion for the North West Metro will be in 2019 and will include stations for both Bella Vista and Norwest.

For working parents, there is better supply of child care services making it far more affordable than the city. Some big landmarks include the Norwest private hospital & Hillsong church.

Also located in Bella Vista is Matthew Peace primary school which is ranked among the top 10 in the state

 

Microburbs Report for Bella Vista

Microburbs Safety Score: 9/10

Median House Price: $1,378,000

Median Rent: $780/wk

Annual Growth: 10.1%

Kings Langley

My home burb’  is located just west of the prestigious Bella Vista and 5km north of Blacktown. The homes there were mostly built between the 60’s and 80’s so you’ll expect to see a lot of brick. The strict council covenants on development in this suburb have ensured that the streetscape has a lot of unity and appeal.

Kings Langley is also a go-to destination for cyclists who want to take advantage of the purpose built cycleway along the M7.

Lower mortgage rates and better family friendly facilities adds to the quality of life in suburbs like Kings Langley. The high numbers of owner-occupied homes is also indicative of this quality.  

 

Microburbs Report for Kings Langley

Microburbs Safety Score: 9/10

Median House Price: $857,000

Median Rent: $520/wk

Annual Growth: 9.7%

The Ponds

The Ponds has become one of the most sought after suburbs in the west. Compared to the same period five years ago, the median house sales price for houses increased 165.5% (realestate.com.au).

image04

The Ponds is much newer than the established suburbs of Baulkham Hills and Bella Vista but with the Rouse Hill Town Centre just 10 minutes away and the higher abundance of public parks & recreation areas makes it very liveable.

This suburb has won several town planning design awards for its innovative use of space and using the local stormwater to make an artifical pond known as ‘The Ponds Lake’. These areas make the suburb a great place of community where families often gather in evenings and host barbeques. The clever use of public space is also designed to compensate for the small backyard sizes that are increasingly common in new suburbs.

Another selling point is the proximity to the council owned leisure and aquatic centre known for its popular wave pool.

 

Microburbs Report for The Ponds

Microburbs Safety Score: 8/10

Median House Price: $942,000

Median Rent: $650/wk

Annual Growth: 21.6%

 

Baulkham Hills

(With the exception of areas directly near the shopping centre) the high affluence level, distance from train stations and large land sizes make Baulkham Hills one of the safest suburbs in Sydney.

Located just above Castle Hill, the hills shire is is known for its abundance of local parks, with a total of 329 parks in total to walk the dog or play with the kids.

Whilst there is no train station, busses to the city provide an express trip to CBD via M2 and Lane Cove Tunnel with a travel time of around 30-40 minutes. Baulkham Hills high school, an academically selective school is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the state.

Low traffic levels and easy parking is a key benefit of western suburbs like Baulkham Hills. This makes regular travel to places like supermarkets, convenient and less stressful.

Microburbs Report for Baulkham Hills

Microburbs Safety Score: 9/10

Median House Price: $1,060,000

Median Rent: $580/wk

Annual Growth: 11%

 

Glenmore Park

A lesser known suburb sitting on the edge of Sydney is Glenmore Park, located 8km south of Penrith and right next to the blue mountains. A key advantage of the west is that lower density living means overall lower noise levels and better peace at night. Despite being located close to Penrith, Glenmore Park is often described as a very friendly suburb with neighbours you can ‘trust a spare key to your house with’.

With a median house price of just $700,000 this makes it makes it the most affordable on this list. In terms of public transport, Penrith train station is just a 15 minute drive away. Combined with an express train to the city, the total journey is just over an hour to get to work; not too bad for suburb located 59 kilometers from the city.
Microburbs Report for Glenmore Park

Safety Score: 9/10

Median House Price: $700,000

Median Rent: $490/wk

Annual Growth: 9.7%

If you’re an informed investor, and I’m guessing you are if you’re on the Microburbs blog, I would encourage you to take a drive through these parts of outer western Sydney. You may be surprised by the communities and opportunities you find out here.

Explore beyond the stereotypes and myths and get the facts now with a Microburbs report on any address or area in Australia:

For press enquiries about this article, please call Microburbs Founder Luke Metcalfe on 0414 183 210.

Can’t Get A Great Halal Snack Pack? Sell Your House.

The Halal Snack Pack, for those who have somehow missed it, is a kebab store dish on the rise. From the massive online Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society, to TV stunts between politicians, it’s not just a trending snack food but a symbol of Australian multiculturalism. It is best described as a dish containing halal-certified doner kebab meat, hot chips and the ‘holy trinity’ of sauces – chilli, garlic & barbeque.

(Senator Sam Dastyari – Photo by SBS)

The snack sensation is even set to cross over into real estate. The most Muslim dominated suburbs have also seen property prices increase by 37% nationally, smashing the national average, and ‘buy near a great Halal Snack Pack shop’ might be the best, weirdest investment advice of 2016. 

We’ll focus on three Sydney suburbs that have had the best rated HSP in Australia and give a very brief overview of unique investment strategies for each one. These strategies are to give examples of the potential in these areas and are general information only. It’s important to consider your individual needs and get qualified advice before making any big decisions. 

Campbelltown – Granny Flats

Suburb: Campbelltown

Growth: 14.1%

Best HSP: King Kebabs

Strategy: Granny Flats

Free Microburbs Report: Here

King Kebabs Campbelltown is currently Sydney’s no.1 spot for HSP. Coincidentally, Campbelltown is also a sleeping giant in terms of property investment.

Located on the southern edge of metropolitan Sydney, C-town has had 14.1% growth in the past year. The key selling point for investment is that some of the older houses with large land sizes have the potential for granny flats to be built on them. The key benefit of building granny flats is that you can secure rent from both the tenants of the original house and the new granny flat at the same time. In today’s low interest rate environment, this investment can pay itself off and in many cases be positively geared.

What makes Campbelltown attractive is that the median house price is $580,000, nearly half the Sydney median.

It is possible to buy relocatable/portable granny flats from $80,000 (plus council contribution) including installation costs. Watch out for super low priced relocatables which may leave out major installation costs plus other essentials.

If you want to build on site, average costs range from $100,000 – $120,000 which doesn’t include council contributions that vary council to council.

The maximum size for a 2 bedroom granny flat is 60sqm. Additionally, the granny flat will need to be located at least 3m from the house, 3m from the back fence and 1m from the side fences.

If you’re concerned about being able to find tenants this far from the city, our data shows Campbelltown has a family score of 8/10. This is characteristic of suburbs in outer western Sydney where many families prefer the larger availability of day-care and schools (compared to the inner-west).

Blacktown – Duplexes

Suburb: Blacktown

Growth: 11.5%

Best HSP: Kebab Express Blacktown

Strategy: Duplexes

Free Microburbs Report: Here

Kebab Express Blacktown is another top rated HSP location, and my personal favorite. Whilst they sadly no longer offer Shisha, it is open until midnight for all your late night banter.

For investment, the southern parts of Blacktown contain many properties with large land size and small houses. These properties are often over 1000sqm. Apart from the potential for granny flats, this also opens the opportunity for building a duplex or subdiving into two lots.

Once built, a duplex can then be strata titled and sold off individually for a great return. Whilst there are plenty of risks that could come into this, this strategy has been quite popular with investors across Australia in recent years.

Another strategy is to subdivide the property into two lots, build a duplex at the back lot, sell the old house at the front lot and rent out the new houses.

Despite the myth that Western Sydney has no culture, Blacktown has a Microburbs lifestyle score of 8/10, and our comprehensive report shows why. The Westpoint shopping centre has plenty to see and do, and there’s a great diversity of restaurants, including Ethiopian, Italian, Indian, Mexican and more. The motorway junction also makes Blacktown quick to reach by road from any side of Sydney. 

 

Kingswood- Rooming Houses

Suburb: Kingswood

Growth: 13.7%

Best HSP: Pizza Stop Kingswood

Strategy: Rooming Houses

Free Microburbs Report: Here 

Located near Penrith is the well known ‘Pizza Stop Kingswood’ which consistently gets 10/10’s on the HSPAS page.

With a three bedroom median house price of 590k and growth rate of 13.7%, it is a great opportunity for first time investors in one particular strategy known as rooming houses.

Located between the large Nepean hospital in Penrith and the Western Sydney University campus, there will be large demand from tenants seeking affordable options.

Simply put, rooming houses are a type of rental set-up where in a single house, each room is rented out to separate tenants. This strategy can be applied to any house, but during your research remember to check with the following agencies to be clear on the different rules for each council:

  • Local council
  • Department of Fair Trading
  • Residential Tenancy Act
  • Department of housing NSW

A tip for investors is to find a trustworthy handyman and build a good a good relationship with them. With all your properties, you’ll need someone who can fix things reliably and give their own advice on property management from a technical perspective.

If you would like to find out more about the investor data, hip score, safety score and much more about any suburb in Australia, you can search here: 

Also check out our other article about ethnic groups with the best real estate gains in Australia (spoiler: the Chinese aren’t no. 1.) 

 

For press enquiries about this article, please call Microburbs Founder Luke Metcalfe on 0414 183 210.

Flight of the Funky – Escaping Sydney to find hip suburbs below the million dollar median

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our analysis of Sydney’s hippest suburbs, it’s that the inner city lifestyle doesn’t come cheap. That’s not the end of the world while you’re renting, but what happens when it’s time to buy? The bad news is that hip suburbs in the Sydney basin simply don’t come in under the city’s near million dollar median. The good news though, is that there are plenty of hip communities around the state if you know where to look. We’ve scoured NSW to find places with high hip scores and low house prices for those who might still need to visit Sydney on occasion. The results are a surprising mix of hip, happening and about-to-happen destinations.

5) Bellingen

Located just south of Coffs Harbour, this small town is ringed by a number of collectives and communes, and is the undoubted cultural hub of the Coffs Harbour region. As reflected in the relatively high house prices for such a remote town, funky people have been drawn from Sydney to Bellingen for over 40 years now. It’s not too late though, with the prices in Bellingen still trailing Byron Bay by a country mile. 

Median House Price: $510,000

Hip Score: 7

Hours Drive from Sydney: 6

4) Merimbula

Coastal Merimbula is a popular tourist destination and a beautiful town, featuring 2 large lagoon lakes and long picturesque beaches. Our analysis shows quite a strong showing of hip amenities like alternative therapies, cafes and restaurants and arts venues. There’s an annual winter jazz festival to show evidence of a local arts scene, but for now, Merimbula’s hipster potential is staying low key. All of our indicators show that this is a hipster powder-keg just waiting for a spark.

Median House Price: $431,000

Hip Score: 7

Hours Drive from Sydney: 6

 

3) Tamworth

Situated about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, the New England town of Tamworth is a cultural hub of live music venues, art galleries and hand crafts. Combined with the low cost of living, it has all of the ingredients for a hipster’s paradise but for one factor – country music. Tamworth is famously the country music capital of Australia, and if your idea of hipness has to include progressive far-left politics, then Tamworth might not be your bag.

Median House Price: $342,000

Hip Score: 7

Hours Drive from Sydney: 5

 

2) Tighes Hill (Newcastle)

newcastle_olive_tree

 

Tighes Hill, along with neighbouring Islington and Carrington, is an old industrial area with heritage working class housing. Nestled between the CBD and the coast, Tighes Hill has a lot of residents who can cycle or walk to work or uni, and double the rate of creative professionals than the broader Newcastle area. Tighes Hill could be perfect for those who want the convenience and cultural diversity of Sydney’s inner suburbs, but at around half the price.

Median House Price: $565,000

Hip Score: 8

Hours Drive from Sydney: 2

1) Katoomba

This 19th Century resort-town in the Blue Mountains is still a major tourist attraction featuring the 3 Sisters Lookout and the Scenic World railway/skyway attractions. A long term shift from overnight and long stay tours to day trips has left the town rich in heritage buildings, but a little light on for tourists. This has set the scene for a burgeoning bohemian community, best observed at the annual Winter Magic solstice festival.

Median house price: $510,000

Hip Score: 8

Hours Drive from Sydney: 1.5

 
The tricky thing about hipster havens is that there are probably some great spots so underground that even we haven’t heard of them yet. You can use Microburbs to hunt for your own perfect area though. The Hip Score panel on all Microburbs reports breaks down the data behind the score. It also maps hip bars and restaurants in the area, with travel time, directions and ratings.

You can find your suburb’s hip score and Microburbs report now, just by searching here.

 
For press enquiries about this article, please call Microburbs Founder Luke Metcalfe on 0414 183 210.

Punching Above Their Weight: Sydney’s Struggle Street Schools That Perform Really Well

The federal government’s MySchool website is a treasure trove of data about schools and how they perform. Like it or not, it’s a statistical fact that rich suburbs’ schools perform better and that educated parents have kids who, in turn, do well at school. You can see a pretty strong correlation here with Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) and mean NAPLAN score:

Socio-economic advantage is not the end of the story though. There’s still plenty of variation. Some schools perform way better with the children they’re given than others. This article seeks to recognise the fantastic work of those educators and institutions.

But before we get too excited, remember that NAPLAN is just about maths and literacy. It doesn’t tell you which students are going to build the next global restaurant chain or write the next Hollywood blockbuster.  There is much more to a child’s development, and some schools have educational philosophies that aren’t conducive to strong NAPLAN results. It’s possible that some of these schools are just “teach the test” hothouses.

Regardless, maths and literacy are the foundations upon which many other skills can be learnt. We may celebrate the tech founder who drops out of university to create a billion dollar business, but you can be pretty sure that person didn’t drop out because they couldn’t read or write.

 1. Canley Vale High School

What makes Canley Vale really a standout is that on our ranking it actually beat out all the other selective schools too. That means that they did more with the local children than selective schools can do with a hand-picked intake. Something is definitely going right in this very poor south western Sydney suburb. The average income per week is just $495, yet this school ranks in the top 25% for NAPLAN across the country.

 2. Cabramatta High School

Nearby to Canley Vale is Cabramatta High School, our second top performer. The majority of the students are from a Vietnamese or Chinese background. 68% of students from here come from economic backgrounds in the bottom quarter of the state, yet the school still produce results around the state average.

3. Fairvale High School

Our next best performer is also from Sydney’s South West. If you look carefully at the faces, you may see a familiar pattern:

The high cultural priority that Asian families place on education may be showing up here. This may be why high schools in immigrant areas beat primary schools. It’s a tough call for immigrant primary school children to outperform their peers while also learning a new language.

4. Chifley College Shalvey Campus

Despite 26% being from an indigenous background, 25% being from a non-English speaking background and 83% of their students in the bottom quarter of the state socio-educationally, this public high school manages to achieve NAPLAN results in line with national averages.

5. Sydney Distance Education High School

We tried to make this article about what schools that outperform, though it seems having Asian kids extends the pressure to perform into the home. Also Asian parents may be particularly keen on conventional measures of academic achievement over most extra-curricular pursuits that we don’t cover here.

So we also looked for the school that performs the best with an English speaking population and this one came top. Although the name sounds like it might be for isolated, remote families, it actually supports on children with special needs, like the pregnant or disabled. Their NAPLAN scores show that they are certainly coming through for their students.

Microburbs Report – Family Score

The Family Score panel of each microburbs report includes the performance of all classes of local schools, along with catchment boundaries and travel times. We also have available a full report for Australian suburbs, which we can send you instantly:

 
For press enquiries about this article, please call Microburbs Founder Luke Metcalfe on 0414 183 210.

What can the PM afford to buy in Sydney?

Joe Hockey famously advised first home buyers to “get a good job that pays good money”. How about the top job? The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia earns no less than $507,000 a year. That’s got to give us some serious buying power, right? How much could you really afford in the PM’s home town of Sydney?

First things first, we need to pay tax. Assuming we haven’t got a handful of negatively geared properties already, our tax bill is $202,000. That leaves us $301,000 though, which is still more money than most first home buyers can dream of.

To avoid mortgage stress, your mortgage repayments should be less than 30% of your income, or about $92000. Of course we’ll be getting our loan at the great Microburbs rate of 3.89%.

According to the government’s own MoneySmart calculator, annual repayments of $92,000, at 3.89% gives you borrowing power of… $1,450,000.

Wait a minute. That’s not very much really. The median house price in Sydney is around $1,000,000. The median prices in 172 Sydney suburbs is over our budget!

Naturally anything in Sydney with a view of the Harbour, close to beaches or close to the CBD is off the table. Likewise, the inner west, north shore and more affluent parts of suburbia are way out of your reach.

North western suburbs like Cheltenham, Beecroft and Pennant Hills may be out, but if you’re prepared to go a little further, Castle Hill is a mere 26 km to the city and is still in your budget until the metro opens there in 2019.

Houses in Strathfield are out, but neighbouring Burwood would be ok. Dulwich Hill has become too popular for the likes of the PM, but Hurlstone Park or Ashbury, beyond the reach of the light rail, are still options.

That’s not to say there aren’t some houses below the median price in inner areas.

This inner west terrace house is almost within our budget, with an auction guide price of $1,500,000. Could this fixer-upper be our answer to the Whitehouse or Number 10?

Over to the Microburbs Property Report to find out!

This inner west terrace has a hip score of 8 and an affluence score of 10. Unfortunately it only scores a 4 for safety, so we may need to put on a few more protective services officers.

Of course there’s still the deposit. You’ll need about 3 years of PM’s pay to get that together. Unfortunately, nobody has been able to last in that job that long in nearly a decade.

If you find your mortgage a pain too, you can at least get a better interest rate. Get access to our exclusive lenders and reduce your rate to as low as 3.89% now!

Negative Gearing: Be Patient, Don’t Muck With It

What will the impact be on the property market if the proposed changes by Labour go ahead to abolish negative gearing on old properties? What will life be like for investors? How will it affect first home buyers? Jeremy Sheppard from DSR Data walks us through the winners and losers.

Supply and demand

In a free market, prices rise when demand exceeds supply. But if the government tampers with the market, like seen in communist regimes, the natural law of supply and demand may be distorted.

What caused demand to exceed supply?

Some would argue that investors are responsible for the increased demand for property. And that might be true for Sydney and Melbourne for the most recent boom.

However, there have been booms in the past without such significant involvement from investors. This time was just a magic combination for investors. We shouldn’t apply a permanent measure for a temporary situation. Time will balance things out anyway as I’ll explain soon.

Australia is a truly great place to live, that’s the real reason why prices are so high here. We have a great economy and freedom from a lot of problems making hell-holes elsewhere in the world.

It makes sense that people want to live here which pushes up prices. If the government considers high prices to be a problem, they should look at modelling how other countries have maintained low prices with some of this:

  • Civil war
  • Famine
  • Corruption
  • Restricted education
  • Poor health care
  • Low technology
  • No infrastructure
  • Dictatorships

Implementing any of these strategies in Australia will quickly solve the demand problem.

Supply

To solve the “problem” with supply, government could reduce taxes charged on developers to build new properties. They could also look at relaxing development constraints.

However, without those taxes, vital infrastructure like water supply, electricity and sewerage would not be available. And without building constraints, developers could prop up any cardboard box like shack.

In other words, government should make it as easy as possible for shanty towns with no sewerage to spring up overnight everywhere.

In every boom, the response from developers has been: build, build, build. They make a buck by supplying to the demand. Eventually they balance out the supply and demand equation and normality is restored.

The same will happen to ease the current boom. It’s not something that needs fixing. Supply and demand in Sydney and Melbourne will probably balance out before Labour get into power anyway.

Impact on existing investors

Because the proposed change wouldn’t be retrospective, existing property investors would be largely unaffected. However, if they owned property in well-established areas where old properties dominate the landscape, there may be reduced capital growth.

Although such areas may still be in demand by owner-occupiers, the demand to buy old houses by investors would diminish. So the short term capital growth prospects for such areas might diminish too.

Impact on future investors

After the plan is introduced it would be tax-inefficient for investors to buy old properties. However, new properties are unattractive to many investors given:

  • High margins applied by developers

  • Lack of opportunity to add value through renovations

  • Established areas have limited land available so new properties in established area are invariably units with little uniqueness

  • New housing estates on the other hand are typically in poor capital growth locations distant from the CBD

  • There is also a risk of the developer failing to complete the project or problems with quality of finish – all the usual risks with off-the-plan purchases that investors prefer to avoid

So the proposed change may knock a significant portion of investors out of the market. They may instead choose shares to be a better option.

Initially, this reduced demand from a segment of the buyers in the market is what would improve affordability. Investors roughly represent about a third of all buyers. Negatively geared investors represent a smaller proportion than that.

In the short-term it would be ugly for some. But eventually, the law of supply and demand would rebalance and either rent would rise or property would become scarce again pushing up prices.

Impact on developers

It’s not known if investors will switch to less effective new investments, or simply exit the market. In the 1st case, there would be an increased demand for new property. So developers would be licking their lips.

In the 2nd case, with decreased demand from investors and lower prices, more developers would find some deals simply unfeasible. Some might even go belly-up. Most would simply cancel less profitable projects.

Note that with less development projects, supply will quickly dry up and prices will start booming again. Supply and demand will have its way.

Impact on 1st home buyers

FHBs have been complaining recently that it is not possible to compete with investors. If investors target new developments, FHBs will be in an even worse position buying anything new.

But established areas with old properties are usually in better locations and therefore command a price tag well outside the reach of FHBs. So with no way of affording existing properties and more investors than ever to compete with over new properties, FHBs might be between a bigger rock and a harder place than they are now.

Impact on renters

If renters are still unable to convert to FHBs, I don’t think they’ll be stung by rising rents as much as some would suggest. Most landlords are already charging the top dollar possible. In fact, there may be a temporary drop in rents by landlords to secure their tenants rather than lose them as budding FHBs.

However, if investors are knocked out of the market and prices drop as planned, development will dry up. Developers won’t want their clientele diminished nor their profit margins cut. With less development supply is reduced which will eventually lead back to higher prices and higher rents again.

Suburbs most heavily impacted

Those suburbs most likely to feel the pain of the change would have the following characteristics assuming investors decide to pursue new developments:

  • Suburbs with very little development currently or planned – means there is less interest from new buyers who might be investors

  • Suburbs traditionally of interest to investor owners rather than owner occupiers – means a greater percentage of future buyers are affected by the change

  • Unaffordable suburbs for FHBs – means buying activity from FHBs is unlikely to prop up the reduced demand from lack of investor interest

  • Suburbs with a lot of old stock on the market at the time the plan is implemented – sellers will lose interest from investors and may be forced to drop prices further

Supply and demand feedback loop

Knocking investors out of the market to reduce demand has an effect on developers. With reduced clientele and reduced prices, there are reduced profit margins for developers. So they reduce their construction which reduces supply which eventually leads to price rises again. This brings investors back in and developers too.

That’s how supply and demand works. There’s an in-built feedback loop in a free market that ensures that eventually everything returns to normal. Don’t be spooked by markets that are out of balance for a couple of years.

It’s beautiful how it all works together. It sorts itself out – no need for the government to meddle in it.

Once property becomes cash-flow neutral under the new regime, investors will return to the market. Developers will follow that increased demand with increased supply and balance will once again be restored to the cosmos. Prices will continue to climb as they always have.

In a nutshell

You have two options to affect prices:

  1. Decrease demand by making our country a hell-hole; or

  2. Increase supply by encouraging shanty towns

A sudden tax change will merely create overnight winners and losers. But the same “problem” will reappear. Supply and demand will sort it all out naturally in time.

Australia is a great place to live – don’t muck with it.

To Nab a Property Bargain, Master the Art of Reverse Feng Shui

We all know the Chinese have a large presence on the Australian property scene today. Chinese buyers snap up nearly 1 in 5 new properties in Sydney, and 1 in 7 in Melbourne, according to research by Credit Suisse. Sometimes they pay very high prices for seemingly average places, like the unremarkable house in Eastwood, a Sydney suburb with a large Chinese community, which sold for a million dollars over its reserve.

Chinese areas have also experienced strong growth in recent years, with popular areas like Chatswood and Epping outpacing the Sydney median price growth rate. We have the stability, land, convenience and timezone that many Chinese buyers crave. This situation is pretty scary to a buyer. You could pay for building inspections, get a solicitor and then be trumped by more money than you’ll ever earn in your life.

Master Reverse Feng Shui

Luckily there’s a whole selection criteria for homes that means nothing to ordinary Australians. That discipline is known as Feng Shui and it’s something that buyers in Chinese influenced markets should know, simply so they can do the opposite. Studies by the Asian Real Estate Association of America have found that 79% of Chinese investors there will pay more for a house with good Feng Shui, so avoiding this premium is critical in finding a bargain.

Reverse Feng Shui is actually quite zen. It’s a science of disbelief – it’s the yang to the Chinese yin. It is to hold knowledge without accepting its truth and, in actual fact, do the exact opposite. It’s about harnessing negative energy to get more home for your money.

Avoiding the Feng Shui Premium is critical

1. Make for the Curves
The bendy, winding roads that are so popular in modern suburban developments are said to bring bad health. The same is true for T intersections and cul de sacs. In general, if headlights are flashing in the front room, you can feel that negative energy coming through in the form of downward price pressure.

2. Street Lights Shine on a Bargain
Homes just above street lights might make those final steps to the front door safer, but to Feng Shui masters that’s a no-no, even if your windows are not made of paper. A quick look at Google Street View can reveal these “bargain beacons”

3. Follow the Pointers
Anything pointing at your home, from building corners to TV antennas are said to bring a pointy stabby vibe to your house. So although they also provide a slight risk to running children and drunk homecomers, embrace the apex and let these objects point you to your new bargain home.

Are antennas bad for luck or just good for reception?

4. Good Things Come in 4’s
The number 8 is very auspicious, associated with good fortune, so steer clear of the 8th floor, and head to the 4th floor, where the number 4 sounds like ‘death’ and is very bad luck. If the views are no good from the 4th floor, the 14th or 24th will work just as well.

5. Go With the Flow
The main door should never be aligned with the back door, say the masters. This is a particularly good one for buyers, as no amount of strategic arrangement of plants and waterfalls can compensate for this fundamental floor plan flaw. Find a place with the front and back doors aligned, and you can rest easy knowing that the only thing flowing out will be competing buyers.

6. Be Open Minded to Open Plan
The kitchen should not be visible from the front door, nor should the entrance to the bathroom. This leaves most open plan layouts wide open to practitioners of Reverse Feng Shui.

Steep blocks can offer terrific vistas

7. Embrace your Inclination
Ground sloping steeply away from the house is a big no-no for Feng Shui, and is another hard fact that can’t be overcome with decorating or renovations. Sloped blocks are actually a bargain when it comes to square meters of yard space though, and can offer some terrific vistas.

8. Take all Necessary Steps
A staircase leading down to the entrance is said to carry all good fortune down from upstairs and out the front door. This is a very common feature, though, of the grand Victorian terraces that crowd the inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney. A conveniently located staircase could be the feature you need to bring a chic urban townhouse within your grasp.

She's buying a stairway to bargains

To start your search, jump on to Microburbs.com.au, where we score every property in Australia.

Does “bargain” = happiness?

house-car-vintage-old-largeSo you’ve been searching for the perfect home for months. With every unsuccessful inspection, your heart sinks just a little bit more, and so do your standards. Lofty dreams of walk-in robes, kitchen islands and summer parties on a sweeping entertaining deck are quickly being replaced by the sobering realisation that ‘home, sweet home’ might just end up being fifth floor apartment with no balcony and dubious plumbing.

That inner-city lifestyle of Tuesday night yoga, weekend brunches and spontaneous picnics in the park? Forget it. The way things are going, you’ll likely be a 40-minute commute from, well, anywhere, and even then you’ll need to make sure you make the last bus home. At 9pm.

Then suddenly you stumble across what appears to be the answer to all your woes: a property report claiming that two and three bedroom bargains can still be found within 10km of the city. The garden parties, the swimming pool, the kid’s playroom/writer’s retreat/man cave are now back on the table.

“Hallelujah,” you shout, “take my money.”

Stop.

It’s no secret that right now it’s a tough market for buyers looking for a place to call home. With investors feeding off low interest rates, young people and families are being forced to the outer suburbs, where the joy of bigger bang-for-buck is often negated by longer commute times and limited resources.

The report, released by realestate.com.au, does indeed offer hope to anyone feeling deflated by the current state of the property market, however, price is obviously just one element of the equation. There’s other important things to consider, such as proximity to restaurants, gyms, bars, hospitals, schools and playgrounds, as well as neighbour demographics and an upcoming construction (possibly next door). After all, what’s the point trying to save a few dollars in the short term, if your lifestyle and tranquility suffers in the long-term?

Microburbs has taken the report one step further, by analysing the convenience, lifestyle, tranquility, family and community Scores for each of the bargain suburbs.

The convenience Score is determined by how long it takes to travel to the regular essentials of life, such as supermarkets and city/work hubs.

The lifestyle score incorporates proximity to cafes, bars and restaurants, with better scores for better-rated venues. It also awards extra marks if the suburb is near to beaches, pools and other waterways.

Looking at population density, tenancy rates and the percentage of residents ages 15-24, the tranquility score reveals how much space and peace and quiet you’ll enjoy in the suburb.

The family score takes into account the facilities available for kids, including the number and quality of schools, and the number of other kids in the area.

While the community score looks are the strength of civic life in the area, including services, places of worship and how active the community is in volunteering.

You can see how each of the bargain areas scored below, but overall, in Tasmania, which had the nation’s cheapest housing options, the northern suburb of Glenorchy achieved the best results in each category, making it your best choice for the complete package of bargain-plus-lifestyle. Second highest was Warrane. Accordingly, these were the two most expensive ‘bargain’ suburbs in Tasmania.

In South Australia, the best scores went to Woodville North followed by Morphetville, with both also being two most expensive of the state’s listed bargain neighbourhoods.

This same trend followed in Queensland, where Keperra, closely followed by Chermside, have the highest scores, with price tags to match. Also worth keeping in mind is that more than half of Chermside’s residents are renting.

Going against the trend is Western Australia, where the cheapest suburb within 10km of the city, Tuart Hill, and the third cheapest, Dianella, produce the best scores, making them both great options for home buyers seeking good lifestyles at a good price.

In Victoria, best rated was Footscray, followed by West Footscray, which also offers the best median prices for two-bedroom homes close to the city.

Alawa and Millner were joint top scorers in the Northern Territory, with both possessing mid-range bargains for those hunting seeking a good balance of lifestyle and price in the Top End.

New South Wales unsurprisingly had the most expensive ‘bargains’ in Australia. Petersham received the best scores of all featured areas across the country, though it also had the most expensive median house price to match and almost six times the amount of residents per km2 than the Sydney average. In second place was Mascot, which, as Sydney’s second-best bargain suburb, also makes it the city’s ideal area to buy.

See below for the category scores of each supposed bargain suburb. You can also discover how generous your suburb is, as well as find out how your location might affect your chances for love all on Microburbs.

Tasmania

Clarendon Vale: median three-bedroom house price $150,000
Convenience Score: 5/10
Lifestyle Score: 4/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 14% residents aged 15-24, 62% renters, 1,294 people per km2

Risdon Vale: median three-bedroom house price $170,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 5/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 15% residents aged 15-24, 30% renters, 1,491 people per km2

Rokeby: median three-bedroom house price $187,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 4/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 28% renters, 232 people per km2

Glenorchy: median three-bedroom house price $138,500
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 6/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 38% renters, 1,007 people per km2

Warrane: median three-bedroom house price $235,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 47% renters, 526 people per km2

South Australia

Kilburn: median three-bedroom house price $369,500
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 14% residents aged 15-24, 55% renters, 1,757 people per km2

Woodville Gardens: median three-bedroom house price $295,000
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 4/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 15% residents aged 15-24, 56% renters, 2,771 people per km2

Mansfield Park: median three-bedroom house price $330,000
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 4/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 15% residents aged 15-24, 33% renters, 2,881 people per km2

Morphetville: median three-bedroom house price $465,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 7/10
Tranquility: 12% residents aged 15-24, 44% renters, 1,494 people per km2

Woodville North: median three-bedroom house price $355,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 14% residents aged 15-24, 36% renters, 1,639 people per km2

Queensland

Rocklea: median three-bedroom house price $372,500
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 4/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 15% residents aged 15-24, 39% renters, 95 people per km2

Salisbury: median three-bedroom house price $506,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 15% residents aged 15-24, 29% renters, 1,423 people per km2

Northgate: median three-bedroom house price $652,050
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 5/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 14% residents aged 15-24, 42% renters, 1,446 people per km2

Keperra: median three-bedroom house price $455,100
Convenience Score: 7/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 6/10
Community Score: 7/10
Tranquility: 11% residents aged 15-24, 31% renters, 1,244 people per km2

Chermside: median three-bedroom house price $531,500
Convenience Score: 7/10
Lifestyle Score: 8/10
Family Score: 6/10
Community Score: 5/10
Tranquility: 16% residents aged 15-24, 58% renters, 2,402 people per km2

Western Australia

Tuart Hill: median three-bedroom house price $579,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 5/10
Tranquility: 11% residents aged 15-24, 43% renters, 3,073 people per km2

Morley: median three-bedroom house price $550,000
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 26% renters, 1,923 people per km2

Dianellamedian three-bedroom house price $630,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 5/10
Family Score: 6/10
Community Score: 7/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 24% renters, 2,103 people per km2

Westminster: median three-bedroom house price $443,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 14% residents aged 15-24, 43% renters, 2,245 people per km2

Belmont: median three-bedroom house price $487,500
Convenience Score: 4/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 14% residents aged 15-24, 42% renters, 1,432 people per km2

Victoria

West Footscray: median two-bedroom house price $545,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 8/10
Family Score: 6/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 12% residents aged 15-24, 38% renters, 2,670 people per km2

Maidstone: median two-bedroom house price $530,000
Convenience Score: 5/10
Lifestyle Score: 8/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 18% residents aged 15-24, 41% renters, 2,454 people per km2

Footscray: median two-bedroom house price $578,500
Convenience Score: 8/10
Lifestyle Score: 9/10
Family Score: 6/10
Community Score: 7/10
Tranquility: 16% residents aged 15-24, 54% renters, 2,658 people per km2

West Melbourne: median two-bedroom house price $608,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 4/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 20% residents aged 15-24, 59% renters, 568 people per km2

Northern Territory

Moil: median three-bedroom house price $543,750
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 6/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 12% residents aged 15-24, 35% renters, 1,944 people per km2

Alawa: median three-bedroom house price $542,500
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 12% residents aged 15-24, 32% renters, 1,712 people per km2

Anula: median three-bedroom house price $550,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 5/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 26% renters, 1,825 people per km2

Millner: median three-bedroom house price $552,000
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 41% renters, 1,680 people per km2

Jingili: median three-bedroom house price $567,500
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 27% renters, 1,380 people per km2

New South Wales

Tempe: median two-bedroom house price $850,000
Convenience Score: 7/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 5/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 10% residents aged 15-24, 23% renters, 1,779 people per km2

Mascot: median two-bedroom house price $916,500
Convenience Score: 8/10
Lifestyle Score: 8/10
Family Score: 6/10
Community Score: 8/10
Tranquility: 13% residents aged 15-24, 33% renters, 851 people per km2

St Peters: median two-bedroom house price $890,000
Convenience Score: 7/10
Lifestyle Score: 7/10
Family Score: 7/10
Community Score: 4/10
Tranquility: 11% residents aged 15-24, 38% renters, 1,660 people per km2

Earlwood: median two-bedroom house price $912,500
Convenience Score: 6/10
Lifestyle Score: 8/10
Family Score: 8/10
Community Score: 7/10
Tranquility: 11% residents aged 15-24, 18% renters, 2,997 people per km2

Petersham: median two-bedroom house price $957,500
Convenience Score: 8/10
Lifestyle Score: 9/10
Family Score: 8/10
Community Score: 7/10
Tranquility: 11% residents aged 15-24, 48% renters, 5,801 people per km2