Flexibility and greater affordability on offer for wise Sydney property buyers
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Flexibility and greater affordability on offer for wise Sydney property buyers

The smart money is on this part of the nation’s most expensive capital as prices hold steady and yields continue to perform consistently

Tue, Mar 21, 2023 10:30amGrey Clock 3 min

Western Sydney is increasingly the smart choice for canny property investors, a new report suggests.

The Month in Review report for March 2023 by property valuation and advisory group Herron Todd White singled out the region as representing more varied and affordable options with consistently strong yields for both units and houses over the next few months as investors and owner-occupiers navigate a volatile property market.

“Western Sydney has always been a smart choice for investors and owner-occupiers alike and despite the weaker market, we consider this should continue throughout 2023,” the report said. “The high level of infrastructure investment in the region coupled with relatively lower median house prices and the shift to more people working from home has highlighted that more affordable and larger homes with backyards are still hot property and good long-term propositions. 

“The ever-popular house and granny flat is a staple for Western Sydney investors given the larger block sizes and versatile living arrangements for extended families or as a pure investment.”

While values have softened over the past 12 months, the falls have not been nearly as substantial as they have been in other parts of Sydney. The report points to areas such as Blacktown where median values dropped by just 1.2 percent over the past year to $870,000 while yields have increased by 7.5 percent to $457 a week over the same period. The results are even more significant in Penrith, where median rent for a two-bedroom unit now sits at $420 per week, an increase in yield of 4.1 percent. At the same time, the median price of a two-bedroom unit has risen by 11.4 percent to $532,500 over the past year. The report points to the area’s relative affordability and planned infrastructure to account for the rise.

Greater demand for more rental units around universities as students return to the Australian higher education market has been responsible for increased yields around Macquarie Park, the report said, as staff and students at Macquarie University seek accommodation. 

“There are only 110 units currently available for rent with an estimated 1500 renters actively looking for accommodation,” the report said. “Macquarie University is home to more than 44,000 students and 2000 staff members. The Australian Government predicts a further 40,000 international students are expected to arrive in Australia for first semester classes in 2023 commencing in March.” 

At the moment, the rental yield for Macquarie Park is 3.6 percent, while the average yield for the rest of Sydney sits at 2.7 percent.

National director of residential at Herron Todd White, Ben Esau, said that there is likely to be further volatility in the residential market in the coming months as more borrowers come off fixed interest rates. Estimates suggest that up to a third of mortgage holders are fixed on lower rates, with most expected to end this year. While it may provide opportunity for those looking to add to their portfolio or enter the market, as the RBA continues to lift rates, caution is advised to those chasing higher yields.

“Although the prospect of increasing rental values may seem attractive as an investor, it may not be so straightforward as landlords need to grapple with the process of potentially passing on increasing interest rates to struggling tenants,” Mr Esau said. 

“Of course, there are also investors who will be significantly impacted by the increasing costs to service an investment property, but where banks are generally well structured to deal with clients in financial distress, individual landlords may not have that capability and may need to navigate chasing increasing returns and the human impact of a fast-paced rental market.”


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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


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