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More than ever, it pays to tread carefully when choosing an investment property in an uneven market

Tue, Feb 21, 2023 12:08pmGrey Clock 2 min

It’s easy to think that Australian house prices are on a downward spiral, as interest rates edge closer to the 4 percent mark.

And while the nation’s most expensive cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra have experienced drops in values – Sydney is down 10.8 percent since February 2022 – it’s not the same story across the country, said Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee.

“Some markets are less sensitive to interest rates. Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra are our most expensive cities and as a result are far more sensitive to the cost of debt,” she said. “Sydney house prices have now fallen by 10.8 per cent from their peak in February 2022. Compare that with Adelaide where the median is half that of Sydney – prices are down only 1.8 percent from the peak.”

It’s a similar result in the resource capitals of Perth and Darwin.

Research by Ray White reveals that some city and regional areas are continuing to increase in value, although it’s very much on a case-by-case basis. Potential regional property investors would do well to tread carefully before purchase.

Parts of Adelaide such as Playford, the Adelaide Hills and Salisbury have seen steady increases in house values over the past year, while in Brisbane, more affordable suburbs such as the Ipswich Hinterland, Beaudesert, Beenleigh and the Caboolture Hinterland have performed well.

The Queensland regional centre of Bundaberg experienced the highest regional growth in house values during the 12 months to January 2023, with median values up from $394,436 to $422,559, or $28,123. Other parts of Queensland, including Cairns north, the Whitsundays and Maryborough also saw values go up.

Some regions of South Australia proved more resilient as well, with house values increasing on the Limestone Coast, in the Murray and Mallee and Kangaroo Island. The Upper Hunter saw the strongest growth in NSW regional house prices, up from $414,034 to $437,108.

“At a small area level, the difference between what’s happening is even more stark,” Ms Conisbee said. “The capital city areas still recording year-on-year increases are all relatively affordable suburbs in Brisbane and Adelaide. Both of these cities recorded net interstate migration during the pandemic. Most people that moved during this time initially rented and a shift from renter to buyer is likely to be in part driving price growth. 

“At a regional level, the areas seeing growth tend to be more affordable holiday destinations, as well as towns that are benefiting from strong agricultural and mining conditions.”


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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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