Feature Story

How Surry Hills property prices have bucked a Sydney-wide trend

Prices might be dropping elsewhere, but continue to rise, supported by a number of exceedingly strong fundamentals.

Image: Surry Hills Village by TOGA

Property owners in Sydney have been watching the market nervously in recent months as prices have begun to drop – and many experts, including the Reserve Bank, are worried that the market might deteriorate further in the year ahead.

In the vast majority of Sydney suburbs, both median house and median apartment prices have fallen noticeably since the start of 2018. But there are a few notable exceptions – one of which is the inner-city enclave and lifestyle hub of Surry Hills.

Property watchers say Surry Hills’s unbeatably central location, incredible density of dining and social venues, atmospheric character and cachet among affluent urbanites have helped it stand its ground while almost every other neighbourhood in the city has registered price falls.

According to data from Domain, the median house price in Surry Hills rose 2.6% in the 2018 calendar year, while the median apartment price rose 1%. Those figures might sound modest, but they are remarkable when you consider that the median house price Sydney-wide fell a hefty
-9.9% in 2018 and the median apartment price fell -5.8%.

In other words, Surry Hills not only managed to buck the trend of price declines, but actually delivered price growth during an enormously challenging period.

In the current housing climate, investment experts say it’s wise to think long term, and this data is just the latest in a run of above-average results for Surry Hills. Domain data shows that, in the past five years, house prices in the suburb have risen 54% and apartment prices have risen 51%, compared with 39% and 25% Sydney-wide. In the past decade, Surry Hills house prices have risen 106% and apartment prices have risen 102%, compared with 75% and 64% Sydney-wide.

The strength of the Surry Hills market is mirrored in sought-after suburbs of several major cities around the world. In both New York and London, cultural vibrancy and exceptional convenience have protected choice neighbourhoods from city-wide softening.

In London, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit contributed to a -1.64% drop in prices in the year to February 2019, according to data from Foxtons. But in the EC2 postcode, which sits just east of city centre and incorporates part of the trendy cultural neighbourhood of Shoreditch, prices rose a whopping 7.37%, reflecting the area’s winning combination of proximity to London’s commercial heart, hip reputation and abundance of lifestyle amenities – a trio of factors mirrored by Surry Hills.

Meanwhile, in New York, prices rose 4% in 2018, according to Bloomberg – relatively modest by the city’s standards. But in the historic neighbourhoods of Flatiron and Gramercy Park, which are directly south of the main business district and home to some of the city’s best restaurants, growth was much higher: 15.2% in Flatiron and 12% in Gramercy Park (excluding newly built stock). Given those similarities, perhaps it’s not surprising that Bourke Street Bakery, a Surry Hills institution, plans to open its first overseas branch in Flatiron in February.

As 2019 unfolds, property owners can have confidence that however the Sydney-wide market performs, Surry Hills will fare considerably better.

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