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The suburbs where home owners are spending the most on renovations during the pandemic


Well-heeled home owners in blue-chip suburbs have poured millions of dollars into renovations since the pandemic began, new figures reveal.

The renovation boom has continued to steamroll ahead with a staggering 116,000 renovations worth almost $1 billion approved across Australia in the 12 months to May 2021, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

It was the largest number of renovations approved in the space of one year despite the value dropping 12.7 per cent in the past month, the data reveals.

Once again, it was the top-end of town that was spending big.

Suburbs spending the most on renovating

Value ($M)
Paddington – Milton 28.6
Ashgrove 26.3
Camp Hill 21.3
Mount Lawley – Inglewood 15.5
Mount Hawthorn – Leederville 12.1
Fremantle 11.6

Source: ABS Building Approvals May 2021, Ray White 

The enduring pandemic, closed borders and snap lockdowns have meant home owners have continued to save more money than usual, leaving many to upgrade their homes as a result, said Nerida Conisbee, Ray White chief economist.

“These sprawling lockdowns and these higher savings rates are really the reality until borders start to open and we start to travel more freely, and there are other things people can spend their money on,” Ms Conisbee said.

Given runaway house prices since the start of the year, it was hard for home owners to “overcapitalise” on their homes, she said.

But beyond that, many home owners found it made more sense to add value to their homes rather than racking up huge transactional costs such as stamp duty if they were to sell and upgrade.

“That’s a big deterrent. Stamp duty on a million-dollar property is already $40,000. That gets you a pretty nice kitchen,” she said.

But the lack of stock was also one of the biggest drivers for home owners to spend such huge sums on their properties, said David Murphy of David Murphy Residential.

In lieu of upgrading, more significant renovations were being completed to increase space, such as semi-detached houses being extended, he said.

“The most common cost range is probably between $400,000 to $1 million. That is opening up a living area or creating an extra bedroom,” Mr Murphy said.

But there was a lot of demand from cashed-up downsizers, too, who were willing to pay top dollar for homes that were ready to move into, he said.

“When people are going to sell, a large part of the Mosman market is made up of the downsizers … They want something that is turn-key. People are renovating to meet that need.”

Many builders have a six to 12 month wait time as a result, he said.

In Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, the influx of inner-city families was creating a large renovation market, said Louise Lupton of Marshall White Mornington Peninsula.

“It’s either knock over and rebuild, or they’re buying a ’70s home, and they’re doing a full renovation,” Ms Lupton said.

The same locals, builders and developers were tapping into this trend as most families were keen to upgrade to a home on the coast without the need to “lift a finger”, she said.

“There’s a lot of the same people that seem to continue to flip and then try to find another one.

“It’s the lifestyle for people. That’s what’s driving it. People are realising they don’t need to be there [in Melbourne]. That’s what’s driving the growth at the moment.”

Suburbs spending the most on renovating
Value ($M)
Goodwood – Millswood 25.2
Unley – Parkside 22.9
St Peters – Marden 22.9
Sandy Bay 11.3
West Hobart 6.6
Launceston 6.0
Kingston 22.2
Griffith 6.6
Kambah 5.1

In Brisbane, two home owners have turned to renovating instead of upsizing due to the limited number of homes on the market.

The riverside inner-city suburbs of Paddington and Milton topped the list in Queensland, with home owners spending $28.6 million on renovations.

Glynis Austin properties principal Glynis Austin said unless more properties hit the market, home owners will turn to renovate their homes.

“People traditionally move rather than renovate; however, because we’ve had a chronic lack of stock, many people have elected to renovate and spend more money on where they are,” Ms Austin said.

“That can be anything from building in under a house, adding a small extension to a full renovation.

“I think COVID has particularly made people more sensitive to their surroundings and more inclined to make their homes work for them now.”


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Bridge to 2032 – Brekky Ck span approved, missing link for Games athletes’ village

Brisbane is set to have another major infrastructure project underway by the end of the year after Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner lodged the final design of the Breakfast Creek green bridge with planning officers for approval.

The $67 million project is likely to provide a smoother connection for pedestrians and cyclists moving between the fast-growing riverside development at Northshore Hamilton and the CBD.

The 80-metre arch will cross Breakfast Creek to connect Newstead Park with the existing Lores Bonney riverwalk which was part of the now completed Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade.

“This is a crucial step towards securing the final approvals we need to commence work on the green bridge that will provide a $67 million investment in local industry, deliver a new active transport options and create 140 local construction jobs,” Schrinner said.

“The Lores Bonney Riverwalk is currently used 2300 times a day, and this new green bridge will improve safety and increase capacity to the riverwalk by creating a continues walking and cycling connection.”

He said the Breakfast Creek project would join the now-approved Kangaroo Point green bridge as fast-tracked investments to create jobs as the city headed out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brekky Ck

The council has also linked the project to the 2032 Olympics, saying it will be a “key connector” for the planned Athletes Village at Hamilton and provide a critical transport link for the Games.

Two other cross-river pedestrian and cycle links connecting Toowong to West End and St Lucia to West End remain on the council’s green bridge program books but are yet to be funded.

The council insists the remaining bridges need federal and state government funding to go ahead.


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Green ‘Grand Central’: Cross River Rail unveils changes to parklands vision

Cross River

Developers of Queensland’s biggest infrastructure project, the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail, appear to have bowed to public pressure and moved to preserve more public space in its redesign of the city’s Roma Street parklands precinct.

The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority has confirmed it will allow more public open space in a revised development plan for the area.

A new development scheme for the Roma St precinct, which will contain the state’s most most important transport interchange (dubbed Grand Central) as well as the proposed Brisbane Live arena, identifies new green areas and more affordable housing than was originally planned.

The Palaszczuk government has insisted that the development of an underground Roma St station as part of Cross River Rail is a chance to revitalise an under-used part of Brisbane into a major opportunity for private investment.

The government expects that over the next 15 years there will be nearly 4200 new residents and more than 19,700 new workers within the 32 hectare Roma Street priority development area, bounded roughly by Wickham Terrace, North Quay and College Rd.

However, the delivery authority came under fire for giving over part of the Roma St parklands which houses a public car park and Brisbane City Council maintenance depot to residential and commercial development.

The authority now says under the finalised development scheme the precinct would have more “publicly accessible open space”.

“The existing 11 hectares of publicly accessible open space within the Roma St Parklands will not only be protected forever, but will be expanded even further by more than two hectares,” the authority said in a statement.

“The development scheme also provides for new social and affordable housing as part of new residential buildings parallel to the rail corridor, adding to the existing apartment complexes along Parkland Boulevard.”

“This scheme is all about renewing one of Brisbane’s most underutilised inner-city locations while protecting and enhancing the beautiful natural features that already exist. ‘

About 46,000 people each weekday are expected to use the new high-capacity underground station at Roma Street by 2036.


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Brisbane Olympics to Push Property Market’s Limits


Brisbane house prices will hit the $1-million median well before the 2032 Olympics with suburbs near venues tipped to move up to $3.9 million.

Property projections from PRD Research indicate the median price would reach $1.7 million by 2033 and would be “immensely” boosted on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

PRD chief economist Diaswati Mardiasmo said it was clear that hosting major events had served the property market well.

“The year after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Newington (site of the athletes’ villages) and surrounding suburbs’ median house prices grew by 13.4 per cent,” Mardiasmo said.

“Median house price growth was not limited to the year after the Olympics. It grew by 38.5 per cent two years after, and 66.4 per cent three years after.

“The year after World Expo 88, South Bank and its surrounding suburbs grew by an average of 19.1 per cent and by 10.3 per cent after G20 Summit 2014.”

Brisbane property price predictions: Olympics 2032

Suburb 2011 2021 Projected Growth G20 Average
Hamilton house $824,000 $1,650,000 $3,990,670
Tennyson house $515,000 $970,000 $2,052,520
Chandler house $1,040,000 $1,600,000 $3,385,600
Woolloongabba house $623,000 $951,000 $2,012,316
South Brisbane house $805,000 $1,210,000 $2,560,360
Redland Bay house $450,000 $638,000 $1,350,008
Ipswich house $325,000 $435,000 $1,052,086
Herston house $697,000 $908,000 $1,921,328
Spring Hill house $950,000 $1,150,000 $2,433,400
Coomera house $353,000 $550,000 $1,163,800
Broadbeach units $463,000 $625,000 $1,322,500
Alexandra Headland house $570,000 $1,110,000 $3,348,760
Twin Waters house $651,000 $1,077,000 $2,278,932

^Source: PRD Research, AMP Pricefinder

“Bearing in mind the 2032 Olympics are still 11 years away, and based on how the Brisbane market is travelling, the potential to eclipse this price point is high,” Mardiasmo said.

“Regardless of the calculation method, the conclusion points us to Brisbane becoming a $1-million median house price city sooner rather than later. ”

Domain’s latest house price report showed median house price in Brisbane was $678,236, up 13 per cent annually.

Meanwhile, prices on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast hit $792,000, up 18.2 per cent on last year, and $825,000 up 23.1 per cent, respectively.

Domain chief of research Nicola Powell said at the moment, low listing numbers and interstate migration were driving the price hike.

“It suggests that upgrading homeowners are fuelling house prices, as well as interstate and expat buyers moving from more expensive cities,” Powell said.

Melbourne and Canberra officially joined Sydney in the $1-million home club in the July results.


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