5 December 2018

Light rail driving Canberra property values along the corridor

| John Thistleton
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The Capital Metro project is already having a positive impact on property prices in North Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Proximity to transport infrastructure is one of the most powerful economic drivers in property values. But exactly how much value the ACT Government’s Capital Metro project brings to your property remains to be seen.

Close to the exciting development which is to launch its inaugural service early next year, McGrath Belconnen/Gungahlin says the uplift has been clearly evident since the announcement in 2014.

Principal Craig Chapman says historically, light rail is seen to have a positive effect on property values and the Capital Metro line from Gungahlin Town Centre to the City is expected to do just that.

“I would say the project has proved well in saleability compared to property not on the railway line, more so than a marked dollar increase in values, especially as we are in a fluctuating market at the moment,” Mr Chapman says. “I have no doubt values will rise in the future and above property not along the route.”

Mr Chapman says analysis in Australia and overseas has shown the area between 100 and 400m from a tram stop is ‘the sweet spot’ where property popularity and values are likely to rise the most.
“In Canberra, a plethora of lifestyle and entertainment options will follow. We can look forward to restaurants, cafes, shared outdoor spaces, and better connecting arterial access from neighbouring suburbs,’’ he says. “Favourability to live within 100 – 400 metres of the light rail will grow as our City does. As its popularity climbs, prices will follow,” Mr Chapman says.

This concept has paved the way for transit-oriented development, which increases both density along light rail corridors and patronage, improving the cost-benefit of the system.

“This is very evident with recent land releases and subsequent residential and commercial precincts popping up along Northbourne Avenue,” Mr Chapman says.

Harrison, Franklin, Watson and Downer have experienced a spike in their median home values.

Year-on-year median sales prices in Harrison have surged 10.21 per cent to $737,000, in Franklin 2.89 per cent to $731,000 and in Watson 6.62 per cent to $766,000.

“Harrison is the star performer,” Mr Chapman says.

“Strong sales along Northbourne Avenue include HTI Group’s Midtown and Mantra project, apartment sales in Art Homes projects On Forbes, Mulberry and So Ho, Embark, DK-SN in Dickson and closer to Braddon with Geocon’s Midnight development,” he says.

“I also anticipate strong results from luxury townhome offerings in Watson, Downer, Hackett, Lyneham, Turner and O’Connor, especially those branching off from McArthur Avenue,” he says.

“Renters might especially look for homes close to light rail stops, and this should be top of mind for investors.”

Mr Chapman says areas previously unattractive to buyers because of distance, in terms of travel times to key destinations like the CBD, shopping, entertainment and dining precincts and sporting facilities of the Inner North, will be revolutionised by the new light rail, providing ease of access.

Light rail has shown its value around the world as a complimentary transport solution to urban development and has encouraged the concept of communities where people live, work and play.

“It is worth noting in the ACT the north side routes are now fixed and, unlike bus route changes or draft planning of more light rail elsewhere in Canberra, will remain fixed,” Mr Chapman says. “Of course there is nothing preventing the operators in future to potentially add more tram stops to these routes,” Mr Chapman says.

“As older Canberrans look to downsize they will gravitate toward property dotted along the rail in these inner northern areas,” he says.

Mr Chapman believes testing of the new infrastructure will continue adding to the excitement. As it becomes a reality, awareness of what it could mean for property and lifestyle value will also increase.

While commuters are the obvious beneficiaries, tram patrons from all demographics will gain. Students will access the City route to attend ANU, the line also passes Exhibition Park with its many festivals shows and markets. It passes sporting facilities in Lyneham and the satellite business and entertainment district of Dickson,” Mr Chapman says. “Pensioners will have a more convenient option of accessing inner-city services.”

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Who are these older people that are downsizing in the manner mentioned here? All the ones I know say things like “can’t afford to pay more for less” and “I still have stuff, where does it go”. “Who is going to look after my plants” and ” what about the dog?”. Don’t even mention the caravan or campervan. So don’t ask just about increased values along the tram route, ask if the expectations about downsizers are actually being met – and can I meet one please to see how it went because I’m in that bracket too!

You make some good points here.

The ACT Governments claims that reduced Stamp Duty and increased Rates will heavily encourage elderly residents to Downsize and free up housing stock for young families is fundamentally flawed.

Increasing levels of Downsizing is not occurring in Canberra and when you look at the broader picture and the competing incentives you will understand why.

Australian Aged Pension excludes the Family home from the pension Asset test. This is different to many countries that the Government based their Stamp Duty policy on.

Unlike most other countries, there is no Death tax on the Family Home when it transfers over to the kids after the owners pass away.

There are a range of Tax benefits, house price growth, extra services, additional facilities and financial incentives for people who remain in their inner city Family home after retirement.

Unfortunately the ACT government has ignored these additional factors and put all their Downsizing eggs in the reduced Stamp Duty basket.

Capital Retro9:10 am 08 Dec 18

It’s all spin, sponsored by the ACT government as part of their pact with the developers who hope to clear the massive oversupply of home units by convincing seniors that they should “downsize”.

Capital Retro8:56 pm 06 Dec 18

The tram venture hasn’t been called “ACT Government’s Capital Metro project” for several years.

All property values across Canberra have increased and this is due to supply and demand which are carefully controlled.

It has nothing to do with the tram.

So Inner North House prices have massively exceeded average growth in Canberra, growing 30-40% in, the last couple of years and you think it’s nothing to do with light rail?

Hmm, yeah, must be just a coincidence.

That doesn’t appear to be what the article is saying. Property prices along the light rail corridor are benefitting. This is also occurring in other parts of Australia with light rail. Even thought all prices across Canberra are increasing it is particularly so in places that have a close proximity to the light rail corridor.

Capital Retro5:14 pm 07 Dec 18

I’ve looked at buying a townhouse in the inner north several times this year and on checking the online sales histories on the ones I have looked at the price increases over the past 5 years are about 20% which is the same in most other parts of Canberra.

There is a lot of hype associated with this tram thing and I believe a lot of the “purpose built” units along the corridor in Northbourne Avenue (the ones the size of a shoe box with no car parking) will become stranded assets in a very short time.

Capital Retro5:58 pm 08 Dec 18

“Property prices along the light rail corridor are benefiting “

Benefiting who?

Canberra is moving on now as the capital city of a middle-ranking power. A bus-only public transport system wouldn’t be sufficient. Looking at other capital cities across Australia I think only Darwin and Hobart are bus-only. All the other cities have multi-modal public transport systems. As to whether people want to live on transport corridors it appears from the article that many do.

So your argument is now other people have one, so we should too?


Capital Retro5:18 pm 07 Dec 18

Ridiculous claim considering only 8% of Canberrans use busses and the tram is not providing any better options (same routes, standing only and slower times for existing bus commuters).

Urban planners generally examine how other transport systems work in other cities, nothing new in that.

Three errors here: Firstly, you make the claim that the bus system is underused as an argument not to have light rail. The route that light rail is travelling along is the most used in Canberra. You also neglect to build in future travel arrangements with a larger population which necessitates more public transport to avoid clogging roads with private motor vehicles. Secondly you claim that light rail is “standing only” which is patently wrong. Thirdly, your claim of slower times is dependent on traffic levels at any given time. Buses are slowed down by prevailing traffic conditions, light rail is not.

Capital Retro9:07 am 08 Dec 18

Where do you think the tram passengers will come from? The existing bus travellers of course and it will probably take longer and as soon as the few seats are taken when the tram leaves the terminals at either end (peak times that is) all the rest will have to stand. That’s the way trams were designed. Outside peak times the trams will be empty.

The roads are “clogged with private motor cars” because the government has flogged all the car-parks to developers and people circulating around the city looking for somewhere to park, the product of the “evil car ideology”, are the ones causing the congestion.

The only way trams will outperform busses is when they are “subsidised” by preferential traffic lights. This traffic engineering will be adverse to motor vehicle movements and will exacerbate the existing problem.

Passengers for light rail will come from three sources: Ii) Existing bus passengers (ii) Future Canberra arrivals (iii) Existing Canberra residents deciding to use light rail rather than private motor vehicles. When you say “it will probably take longer” you haven’t qualified what you mean – i.e. longer than what? In regards to sitting and standing, people who get on earlier and have a longer commute get the first available seats. People who get on closer to Civic and therefore have a shorter commute, will stand. It’s not too much of a stretch to stand on a light rail from Dickson to Civic. The roads are becoming more “clogged with cars” because of the simple mathematics of one person per vehicle taking up a lot of space on the roads. Parking doesn’t have anything to do with it. There’s nothing in current public policy around “evil car ideology” so that’s not a sensible comment. Buses are more suited to some types of transport and light rail to others. That’s why multi-modal transport is used in most other capital cities.

Capital Retro5:55 pm 08 Dec 18

I had to drive into the city from Tuggers on Thursday afternoon to pick up a friend at the Murrays bus terminal (is it still called the Jolimont Centre?)

I couldn’t continue along Northbourne Avenue from the London Circuit intersection because of congestion from the tram work so I went along Moore Street and was lucky enough to find a 5 min spot near the Post Office.

The bus was late arriving so I sat there 20 minutes and in that time I saw 10 cars continually driving around looking for parking. My parked car wasn’t causing the congestion as it wasn’t on the road. It was the lack of parking alone – the tram work only added to the frustrations and if it wasn’t happening the cars would be circulating faster but they still wouldn’t find any because there is precious little available.

You talk about private cars, well yes, I drive one because it is the only way I can get around Canberra. Should I feel guilty? Remember, I live in Tuggeranong so the tram is useless to me and about 300,000 other Canberrans. Can’t you understand that?

Look, the tram has happened, it is a crock but it has happened so there is no need for you to keep defending the indefensible.

Based on the non peak (daytime) leadings on the 200, the light rail will be busy between peaks too.

You can thank Kate Cornell for Planning Flemington Road as a high capacity commuter corridor and planning the wider median and the direct run into the centre of the town centre.

Thanks for your story about people looking for a park near the Jolimont. Happens in most cities. People love to find a spot as close to where they are travelling so they don’t have to endure the horror of walking a couple of blocks. Would save much more time just realising you can’t expect to park right next to where you are travelling in a major city. Smaller towns are different and some people prefer them for this reason. It’s not, however a valid argument against light rail. No one has suggested you should feel guilty about driving a car. As to access to light rail, this will increase as more stages are implemented so you will probably have some level of access in future. If you think a light rail system is “a crock” you’re entitled to your opinion but as to light rail being indefensible it doesn’t appear that you’re in the majority on this occasion.

Leon Arundell6:08 pm 06 Dec 18

For a fraction of the cost of stage 1 of light rail, we could have a Canberra-wide network of transit lanes that would allow buses, and cars carrying passengers, to bypass traffic congestion and get to their destinations quicker. That would increase property values across Canberra.
How much extra would YOU pay to live where you can watch other people traveling in trams?

That is a bizarre view in terms of land use and household economics. What intelligent society would effectively sterilise many hectares to store personal vehicles at a low rate of return, when a multi story building will provide a much greater economic return. econdly, if the light rail strategy works, household capital should be freed up from being invested in a second or third vehicle albeit slowly. All transit lanes do is perpetuate the existing culture!

Well, isn’t it fantastic that property owners along the corridor have been given hundreds of thousands of dollars in private benefit paid for by public funds. Funds raised in part from the rates of other outer suburb landholders who are mostly less well off than these inner city landholders and will never benefit from the light rail in this way.

Exactly why, if the government was serious about the apparent support for light rail they would have funded each stage partly through a property levy on landholders along each corridor.

Unfortunately vote buying and pork barrelling are much easier.

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