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.

Infinity electrical cable recall sparks wiring fears

Canberrans who had electrical work done in their homes or businesses between 2010 and 2013 are being urged to check with their builder, electrical contractor or appliance installer after the safety recall of an electrical cable.

The “Infinity” cable has been recalled by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after failing electrical safety standards due to poor-quality plastic insulation coating.

Tests found that the cable degrades prematurely and, if disturbed, could break and expose live conductors, potentially causing electric shocks or fires.

The defective cabling was sold through hardware stores and has been fitted in 40,000 premises nationwide. In the ACT, it was supplied through Masters Home Improvement, Project Lighting and Popes Electrical & Data Supplies from 2011 to 2013, but may have been used in 2010, with cabling available from suppliers in NSW at the time.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said Canberrans should heed the warning.

“The ACCC has advised there is no immediate danger, however stressed consumers should not attempt to inspect any electrical cables themselves and should engage a licensed electrical contractor to do so,” he said.

The recall applies to all sizes and configurations of Thermoplastic-sheathed cable (TPS) and orange round mains power cables sourced from Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd and marked and supplied under “Infinity” and “Olsent” brands.

“While there is no cause for immediate concern in relation to Infinity cable, it is best in these circumstances to be safe and avoid potential issues in future,” Mr Corbell said.

“I urge property owners not to get into roof spaces or under floors themselves to check for the presence of Infinity cables; use the services of a qualified electrical contractor.

“Households and businesses that have had electrical wiring work carried out between 2010 and 2013 should contact the responsible builder, electrical contractor or appliance installer to confirm whether Infinity cable was used.”

The cable supplier should arrange for an inspection of the wiring and remediation of any installed Infinity cable that they supplied, free of charge to the consumer.

The ACCC has advised that any affected cable installed in accessible areas or near heat sources must be removed and replaced or sleeved in an appropriate conduit under the safety recall.

“Cables will age at different rates, depending on the ambient temperature and the load placed on them. The current expert advice we have received is that this cable may become brittle from 2016 onwards, and suppliers have been asked to assess and work on the oldest or highest risk installations first,” Mr Corbell said.

“If you are uncertain who installed the electrical wiring, you can arrange for a licensed electrical contractor to inspect your wiring. However, inspection costs are not recoverable from cable suppliers if Infinity cable was not installed or if the cable installer and supplier cannot be determined.”

Any unused or removed Infinity cable may be returned to the cable supplier for refund or replacement.

ACT: Increase in Granny Flat sizes and Un-related Occupants

Secondary residences such as granny flats can now be constructed to 90 square metres, up from 75 square metres, following a recent change to the ACT planning laws.

Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell says the increase is to allow the residences to meet the adaptable housing standards, which may require a second bedroom.

“By allowing greater floor area in secondary residences, Canberra families can help their parents or students to live independently in a residence that’s large enough to be comfortable yet small enough to be manageable,” Corbell says.

“The additional size will also help builders meet the adaptable housing standards for a variety of dwelling layouts, including two-bedroom dwellings. This allows the secondary residence to meet the requirements of the current occupant as well as the needs of occupants in the future.”

The amendment will also remove restrictions on who is permitted to occupy the granny flat with residents now not needing to be related to the occupants of the original house.

“This means anyone can occupy a secondary residence and provides for more affordable housing options,” Corbell says.

Canberra median house prices down a ‘statistical’ 8.7% as property market treads water in March quarter: REIA report

By Larry Schlesinger
Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Canberra property market underwent a signficant statistical correction in the first three months of the year with average median house prices falling 8.7%, figures compiled by the Real Estate Institute of Australia show.

The headline Canberra correction is large and alarming, but only partially representative of the market as the biggest fall recorded across Canberra districts were 4% in Tuggeranong ($480,000) and 3.2% in Gunghalin ($455,000) with these two more affordable suburbs accounting for 80% of the 294 preliminary sales.

The much bigger weighting to lower priced house sales (which fell) were responsible for the higher 8.7% fall in the median price, using the REIA methodology.

The REIA determines median prices based on the reporting of sales information based on sales at the date of contract exchange.

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Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth median prices are based on preliminary unrevised figures based on a high (75% -90%) sample of final sales. Brisbane, Hobart, Darwin median prices are not revised.

Prices held firm in the more expensive districts closer to the centre of Canberra.

In the Inner Central district (Canberra North and Canberra South) house prices gained 0.6% to $746,300.

In the inner South (Woden and Weston Creek) house prices lifted 0.8% to $617,300.

REIA researcher Evgeniya Hawthorne tells Property Observer while final figures are usually revised upwards, the estimates are a “right reflection of the market” with Canberra vendors having to discount their offerings to achieve a sale.

Overall, the property market tread water in the March quarter with the weighted average median price for the eight capital cities falling 0.2% for houses to $534,015 with units down 0.9% to a median of $434,601.

Darwin was the strongest performer in the detaching housing market with its median house price up 2.4% to $592,000 with Sydney (up 1.6% to $673,681) and Perth (up 1.0% to $505,000).

Apart from the steep decline in Canberra house prices, the other capital cities to record noteworthy declines in their detached house prices in the March quarter were Brisbane (down 2.3% to $430,000) , Hobart (down 1.4% to $360,000) and Adelaide (down 1.3% to $395,000).

In the unit market, only Perth (median prices up 2.4% to $425,000) and Hobart (up 1.0% to $290,000) recorded gains.

Apart from Canberra’s 6% correction in its unit prices, Adelaide (down 2.3% to $300,000), Sydney (down 1.6% to $473.808) and Darwin (down 1.2% to $425,000) all recorded declines of more than 1% over the quarter.

Year-on-year house prices are up 4% with median house prices increased in all capital cities apart from Canberra, with values down 7.2%.

Darwin recorded the largest rise across the capitals, up 7.6% followed by Perth (5.2%) Melbourne (4.8%), Sydney (4.2%) and Adelaide (3.4%)

Unit prices are up 1.7% over the past year with Hobart recorded the largest increase, up by 13.7% followed by Perth (3%), Darwin (2.4%), Melbourne (2.2%) and Sydney (1.7%).

In terms of rentals, the REIA data shows that nationally, median house rents increased over the March quarter across the capitals, with Perth and Canberra recording the highest increases of 4.4% and 4.3% respectively.

Rents for two bedroom other dwellings increased in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart while median other dwellings rents remained unchanged in Sydney and Canberra.

Darwin recorded a 0.2% decline in rents for two bedroom other dwellings, which probably reflects the increased supply of apartments coming online in the Top End’s capital, said Bendigo and Adelaide Bank retail executive Dennis Bice.

The report was co-sponsored by Bendigo Bank.

Bice said that despite the slight decrease in the March quarter, the weighted average median house price has risen 4.0% in the past 12 months.

“With the exception of Canberra, there has been median house price growth in all Australian capital cities,” he said.

Slump feared in Canberra home market

Expectations that the Coalition will cut thousands of public service jobs if it wins power in September are starting to affect the real economy in Canberra, where property prices are falling in contrast to most other cities.

Sales transactions for houses and units in 2012 were down about 13 per cent on 2011 and more than 20 per cent below the five-year average, according to RP Data estimates.

Read the full article – AFR – Slump feared in Canberra Home Market