Canberra: Woden’s housing market is at its strongest in years

When residents of Canberra’s first satellite town, Woden, moved into their new homes in the early 1960s, they were living on the fringe of the burgeoning city.

The nation’s capital was yet to hit a population of 100,000, Belconnen was little more than a few sketches and Lake Burley Griffin was still being filled.

More than 50 years on with urban sprawl pushing Gungahlin to the northern ACT border and Molonglo Valley suburbs popping up towards the west, Woden’s residents find themselves in one of the city’s most central locations.

Property in the area is hotly contested with families, first home buyers and the district’s downsizers putting Woden at the top of their list.

Luton Properties Woden agent Anthony McCormack says he has seen a surge in demand for homes in the area with prices rising significantly in Curtin, Hughes and Garran.

The price growth in Woden’s north has also led to an increase in inquiry for the southern, more affordable suburbs such as Isaacs, Farrer and Pearce.

“People have really cottoned on to how geographically central it is,” McCormack says.

“They are also confident with the area’s road systems, hospital, town centre and schools.”

Peter Blackshaw Woden and Weston Creek agent Luke Metcalfe says Woden’s housing market is the strongest it has been in years.

“The auction clearance rates are very strong and we’re seeing five or six bidders at each house,” Metcalfe says.

“Good properties are attracting anything from 50 to 100 groups during their marketing campaigns.”

Metcalfe says he is seeing a lot of buyers upgrading within the Woden district and there has also been an increase in inquiries from Tuggeranong residents hoping to move closer to the city centre.

“The average buyer is someone looking to upgrade from other parts of town or within the suburbs themselves,” Metcalfe says.

While Woden is home to an ageing population, a new generation of residents have started to make their move to the district. Independent Property Group agent Jonathan Charles says a lot of young families are moving into the area to take advantage of the valley’s excellent schools.

He says an updated four-bedroom home with an en suite and double garage is by far the most popular request.

“Stock levels are very tight in the Woden area and there’s not an abundance of homes,” Charles says.

“When they do come on the market they’re hotly contested.”

Woden Valley Community Council president Martin Miller would like to see the suburb’s infrastructure upgraded to meet the demands of the district’s residents.

“There are a lot more newer office buildings, the shopping centre has expanded two or three times and the residential building Sky Plaza has a love/hate relationship with residents,” Miller says.

“But you can see a lot of the facilities are ageing 50 years on and a lot of things need renewal.”

Miller says it’s encouraging to see development happening in the town centre, but he would also like to see more investment in family housing.

“What is really suffering is the model of housing, we need more facilities for families, rather than just retirees or young couples.”

Charles says while demand is strong for family homes in Woden Valley, buyers should advise local agents what they’re looking for so they don’t miss out.

“They need to register their interest with agents in the area so we can notify them when we have something coming up,” he says.

Woden facts

  • The name “Woden” derives from a nearby homestead. Dr James Murray bought the 1000-hectare parcel in 1937 and named it after the Norse god of war and patron of learning, who is also known as “Odin”.
  • Woden was the first of Canberra’s town centres to be built outside the CBD. Development of Woden’s 12 suburbs began in 1962, with the first residents moving into Hughes in 1963.
  • Isaacs was the last suburb completed, with construction beginning in the late ’80s.
  • A population of 32,958 was recorded in the 2011 census.
  • The Woden suburb of Garran is home to the largest public hospital in the ACT and south-east NSW region, the Canberra Hospital.

Woden area a drawcard for families

There’s plenty of competition in the Woden region for the perfect family home and it’s a situation Stephanie Day, pictured, has become familiar with over the past couple of months.

Day grew up in Woden and is hoping to buy a family home in the area. She moved to Melbourne eight years ago and is back in the ACT with her partner, Tom, and her two-year-old daughter, Hayley.

Since Christmas they have been staying at Day’s family home in Isaacs and each Saturday has been filled with open homes.

“We’re looking in the area because it’s close to Mum and Dad and it’s where I grew up,” Day says.

‘I’m familiar with the area and it has good primary schools and nice neighbourhoods.”

Like many young families, they’re looking for a three or four-bedroom en suite home in or around Woden, with Farrer, Pearce and Torrens among the suburbs they’ve visited.

“A lot of the homes are sold by auction so we’re just getting a feel of the market,” Day says.

“Some houses are going way over what we expected them to go for.”

The family is keen to settle in Woden or one of the neighbouring Weston Creek or upper Tuggeranong suburbs. The autumn season has brought more properties onto the market, so ;Day is hopeful they will find a home soon.

Let the sun shine in

1/99 Ainsworth Street, Mawson
$780,000-plus

An expanse of glass, a loft design and flowing living spaces lend a light and airy atmosphere to this striking three-bedroom townhouse.

It is set in a boutique development of just seven residences and was designed by award-winning TM Architecture.

The home was completed in early 2015 and the owners have added several stylish upgrades to the original design to make it their dream home. Glass balustrades and an open timber staircase, extra drawers in the kitchen and skylights are among the additions.

The double-storey bank of windows captures lovely leafy views and allows plenty of sunshine to fill the room in the winter. The open-plan living area includes custom joinery, feature pendant lights and a contemporary adjoining kitchen with marble accents, soft-close drawers and a walk-in pantry.

The master suite is conveniently placed on the lower floor, along with his and hers wardrobes and an oversized en suite.

Two additional large bedrooms are on the upper floor, boasting views across Mawson and towards Mount Taylor. A lofted rumpus room allows for a range of options, including a home office or teenager’s retreat.

The home is set in a prime Woden location, just two minutes from the town centre and five minutes from the hospital. Mawson Primary School, Marist College and Melrose High School are all within walking distance.

Number 1/99 Ainsworth Street, Mawson, will be auctioned on Saturday, March 19 at 1pm, on site. Phone Dan McAlpine on 0401 005 282. Inspect: Saturday, 11.30am-noon. EER: 6.