Australia’s most expensive LGAs: Sydney’s Northern Beaches worth more than Hobart and Canberra combined By Kirsten Craze
One of Sydney’s 12 local government areas is home to such pricey property that the total value of residential real estate within its boundaries is worth more than all the dwellings two capital cities combined.
The great price gap between Sydney homes and the rest of the country is evident in new research compiled by CoreLogic for News Corp that breaks down the total value of residential housing in Australia’s most expensive LGAs.
With a total value of housing sitting at $215.9 billion within its 254sq km, Sydney’s affluent Northern Beaches Council area is worth more than the collective value of both Canberra and Hobart at $143 billion and $62.3 billion respectively.
Despite both the national capital and the Tasmanian capital experiencing extraordinary property price growth over recent years, real estate in the two cities is still worth $10 billion less than in the single Sydney LGA.
“Northern Beaches has nearly 100,000 dwellings, which is actually more dwellings than Hobart has so that obviously explains part of it, but then Canberra has another 171,000 dwellings.” Tim Lawless, head of research at CoreLogic explains.
However, what really pushes up the Northern Beaches is just the simple fact that houses are so expensive. The typical home price there is about $2 million.
“This highlights that there are enclaves around the Sydney market where housing prices are just extraordinarily high, and that’s the key reason we’re seeing some small regions across the city’s metropolitan area worth more than entire capital cities — or several capital cities combined,” he said.
Mr Lawless explained that analysing dwelling price growth in recent years it is clear that Sydney’s trajectory has been exceptional.
“We’ve seen in five years that Sydney housing values have risen by 29.9 per cent while Hobart is up 66 per cent over that same time frame and Canberra up 45 per cent.
“But when you look at it over 10 years, it’s a bit of a different story because that includes a really strong growth phase Sydney went through between 2012 and 2017,” he explained.
“Over a decade we’ve seen Sydney housing values rise by 94 per cent, while Hobart’s was up 73 per cent and Canberra’s up 52 per cent. When you look at it in the context of a longer time frame, it just shows that absolutely over the decade Sydney has gone through an extraordinary period of growth,” he said.
However, price matching LGAs to one another isn’t as simple as comparing apples with apples, considering some councils have footprints measuring thousands of square kilometres while others can be just a handful of streets.
Brisbane City Council, for example, houses the highest total value of residential real estate at $387.8 billion, but it is one of the largest metropolitan LGAs in Australia covering roughly 1340sq km.
To get a true sense of just where the most money is parked in property, Mr Lawless said it is worth looking at the value per square kilometre. Under CoreLogic’s calculations, nine of Sydney’s LGAs take out the top 10 councils with the highest dwelling values, therefore pushing Brisbane City way down the list to 79 in the rankings.
“You’ve got to take into account the actual geographic size, then you can start to see that the list is pretty much skewed towards the very expensive areas of Sydney; the areas where you’d expect there’s going to be really expensive housing because it’s established, there’s not much more developable land,” he said.
Social demographer with The Demographics Group, Simon Kuestenmacher, said the breakdown of price per square kilometre told an interesting real estate tale.
“It’s just one way of showing the crazy reach of the Australian property market and the heights it’s continuing to grow to. All of those figures really shine a light on our obsession with property,” he said.
He said the reason why dwelling values in these so-called blue chip neighbourhoods continue to rise comes down to the local homebuyers themselves.
“The secret weapon that lots of these small but expensive LGAs have is that they are ruled by NIMBYs. There’s absolutely no construction worth mentioning in any of those places,” he said.
“They protect their little fiefdoms from any kind of densification, so new properties in such areas are so extremely rare that prices will go up and up and up. We might see that those areas don’t have many sales, but overall, the stock value will continue to climb.
“ ‘The rich are getting richer’ is definitely the moral of the story here. You can see that the wealth gap in Australia between the rich and the poor is going to get bigger, especially in the housing market,” he said.
Waverley and Woollahra in Sydney’s eastern suburbs topped the list of priciest property per square kilometre. At just 9.4sq km Waverley, which is home to the celebrity playground of Bondi Beach and Tamarama (affectionately coined Glamorama by locals) has a total value of $78.27 billion with an average of $8.37 billion of real estate sitting in each square kilometre.
Woollahra Council includes the billionaire’s row of Wolseley Rd in Point Piper, where homes regularly sell for more than $30 million as well as Bellevue Hill and Vaucluse, the stomping ground of wealthy VIPs and CEOs. With $90.92 billion worth of property in its 12.3sq km patch, Woollahra comes second at $7.41 billion per square kilometre.
Just over the landmark bridge the harbourfront council of North Sydney measures 10.5sq km and is home to $65.73 billion of real estate. It placed third on the list of most costly property per square kilometre at $6.27 billion.
According to the CoreLogic data, the only non-Sydney council to appear in the top 10 was the City of Stonnington. Located in Melbourne’s inner south east, the expensive LGA includes Toorak, where several homes have exchanged for more than $20 million. The City of Stonnington has $75.83 billion worth of property, but at 25.7sq km it comes in ninth on the list.
Priciest property per square kilometre
Council area Est. value of dwellings (billion) Est. value sq km (billion)
Waverley $78.27 $8.37
Woollahra $90.92 $7.41
North Sydney $65.73 $6.27
Sydney $152.53 $5.7
Mosman $39.67 $4.59
Inner West $124.13 $3.51
Canada Bay $63.22 $3.17
Lane Cove $32.21 $3.07
Stonnington $75.83 $2.96
Willoughby $66.03 $2.94
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