8 November 2023

Next generation of families flock to Canberra 'burbs as downsizers move out

| Katrina Condie
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Suburban home

Young families are buying older-style properties such as this three-bedroom home on Hibiscus Crescent in Rivett which just sold for $795,000. Photo: McIntyre Property.

As downsizers move out of their large homes or retire to the coast, Canberra families are lining up to get their hands on fixer-uppers in the areas they grew up in.

Large, older-style homes on big blocks are at the top of the list for many buyers keen to put down roots in the suburbs and raise their family.

Colin McIntyre from McIntyre Property said for many younger buyers, location was key.

“We’re seeing young families coming back to the places where they grew up to raise their own families,” he said.

“They want their kids to go to the school they went to, and to play footy on the same sports field they did.

“Many couples have reached that point in their lives where they want to settle down and have a house with a big yard, and most are looking for older-style homes they can renovate and put their own stamp on.”

Colin said as empty nesters moved out, the next generation was ready to move in.

“We’re finding there’s a lot of suburb infill and, as older people downsize, the younger families are jumping back in and filling the suburbs up,” he said.

“It’s the cycle of life and real estate, especially in areas like Tuggeranong and the Woden Valley.”

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Block size and location are the “must haves” for family homes, but they come at a cost.

“We’re not talking about first home buyers, these are young couples or families looking to buy their second or third home so they have room to spread their wings and grow,” Colin said.

“They want to return to their roots, be near good schools, shops, services and also close to family members for that support.

“Younger buyers generally aren’t afraid to renovate if the location is right, especially in the Woden Valley area where the blocks are bigger.”

He said some blocks of land in newer suburbs were selling for about $2000 per square metre, whereas you could buy a house that “needs a bit of work” in an established area for “way less than that”.

“In the Tuggeranong Valley, families are buying older homes on bigger blocks and there’s plenty of scope for them to extend or renovate. They’re also getting spectacular views – even from some of the cheaper properties.

“Tuggeranong is growing and becoming more popular with families. It’s like a bottle of red – it just keeps getting better and better.”

Renovated home home with spa and pool

Families are looking for homes with great outdoor areas, such as this property in Chisholm that sold for $870,000. Photo: McIntyre Property.

With Aussies loving the outdoors, Colin said alfresco areas and decks were popular must-have features.

“In Canberra we entertain outside in the summer months and people love to have a warming fire pit or pizza oven in the backyard,” he said.

“If these little extras have been added to older homes, that’s great. If not, young people – especially tradies – love to do their own renovations.”

While buyers were lining up for the quintessential suburban family home, Colin said Canberra vendors could do some basic things to fetch the best possible price for their property.

“If you’re selling, it helps to do whatever you can within your budget to make your home more appealing to families,” he said.

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“If the work’s done and the home looks Instagram-able, the buyers are going to fall in love and you’ll get a better price for it.

“The cheapest things that have the biggest impact are fresh paint, new carpet, LED lighting and new blinds.

“If it’s not in your budget to renovate the bathroom or kitchen, you can make them look schmick by cleaning the grout and upgrading to modern tapware – things like that.”

He said families were looking for “very different things” to investors who bought with capital growth and dollars in mind.

“Investors buy with their head, whereas families buy from the heart.

“There’s that nostalgia associated with where they grew up. They fall in love with a property where another family has lived and can see themselves raising their own family there.”

If you’re looking to downsize, and thinking of selling your family home, contact Colin and the experienced team at McIntyre Property to arrange a detailed property appraisal.


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“Large, older-style homes on big blocks are at the top of the list for many buyers keen to put down roots in the suburbs and raise their family.”

What? That can’t be true… The GreensLab council is telling us that we need more and smaller properties, preferably apartments squished into the existing residential footprint.

These selfish people that want a backyard for their kids to grow up in, clearly just need to be re-educated.

But Bob, the article makes clear that in many cases the large older-style homes are being vacated by people who are downsizing. So, what precisely do you think those people are downsizing to? Could it possibly be smaller apartments?

pink little birdie10:34 am 09 Nov 23

It’s a mix. A lot of younger families want the backyard but not necessarily the large back yard. I straight up eliminated houses on 900m blocks or larger. It’s nice having a bit of space for a hills hoist, a cubby house, a trampoline and a table but not much more than that.

A lot of my mum’s friends have gone from 1000-2000m blocks to 400-600m blocks or even town houses and are really happy.

HSewell – As the first line in the article mentioned: “As downsizers move out of their large homes or retire to the coast”

Canberra isn’t exactly a desirable retirement destination.

The market doesn’t lie, the most desired and thus expensive properties not just in Canberra but pretty much everywhere else are all sizable houses on large chunks of land… despite what our “progressive” leaders attempt to dictate for us.

pink little birdie – That’s an interesting line you drew given many of the old properties were on ~950-1000sqm blocks. I fail to see the major distinction between that and 900m blocks but to each their own I guess.

Sure, anyone can find exceptions to the rule but if you look at what people are actually searching for and buying as per the article, “homes on big blocks are at the top of the list for many buyers”

You’re probably right Bob. After all, why else would a real estate agent specialising in the outer suburbs say that houses in the outer suburbs are popular?

HSewell – Scepticism is always good. This opinion however, can be easily cross checked by looking at the average value of freestanding houses compared to townhouses and especially apartments. The disparity in cost is quite sizeable. Also look at the price movements between apartments and houses, which goes up much further than the other every time?

Then go to one of the many online property listing sites, search all of ACT region and sort by price with the most expensive first. How many hundreds of houses do you have to go through till you run into your first apartment listing?

If you do that and somehow still attempt to argue the point, I really don’t know what to tell you.

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