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Mind the (price) gap: Where Melbourne home buyers can save by moving one train stop


Melbourne home buyers can make savings of up to seven figures in their property search just by taking a slightly longer commute.

Travelling one or two stops further on the train line can cut the cost of a typical property as much as half in parts of the city, Domain data shows.

The analysis comes as rising property prices, reduced borrowing power and a drop in the number of homes for sale force buyers to broaden their property search.

The biggest gap in prices is along the Frankston line, where riding one extra stop between the pricey suburbs of Toorak and Armadale, reduces the median house price from $4.9 million to $2.5 million, on March quarter figures.

Recent sales in the suburbs show a three-bedroom house in Grosvenor Court, Toorak sold for $6.21 million, while a three-bedroom house in Bailey Avenue, Armadale sold for almost half that price at $3.12 million.

Belle Property Armadale principal agent Walter Summons said larger blocks of land in Toorak, and the prestige associate with the suburbs, dictated higher prices.

But in Armadale, multiple train and tram services were a major drawcard for buyers, though they still had to pay top dollar.

“There’s really nowhere in Armadale that’s not close to a train station,” Summons said. “And of course there’s also the trams.”

It is not just affluent inner-city suburbs where prices change drastically. Further along the Frankston line, buyers can save almost $300,000 on the typical house price, by travelling one stop past Edithvale ($1,225,000) to Chelsea ($936,000).

Recent sales in the suburbs include a three-bedroom house in Lochiel Avenue, Edithvale which went for $1,185,000, while another three-bedder in Tarella Road, Chelsea fetched $986,250.

Buxton Chelsea’s James French said many buyers had been moving further down the coast, particularly those looking to downsize and young families looking to upsize, after being priced out of inner bayside areas. Proximity to a train station was often key.

“A lot of the conversations I’m having with buyers at the moment are around them saying, ‘James, I love the home, I just wish it was closer to the station’,” he said.

In the northern suburbs, along the Craigieburn line, prices in Pascoe Vale are half what they are in Strathmore, where blocks are larger, with respective medians of $775,000 and $1.55 million.

East of the city, on the Belgrave line, the median drops from $2.26 million in Mont Albert – the location of Union train station – to $1,363,000 in Box Hill, just a stop away.

The price difference was smaller for two recent sales in the suburbs, with a three-bedroom house in View Street, Mont Albert trading for $1.75 million, while a similar home in Combarton Street, Box Hill sold for $1,445,000.

Tim Heavyside of HEAVYSIDE Boroondara said buyers priced out of Mont Albert or Surrey Hills were finding better deals a train stop or two away.

“There is a suburb creep happening, where buyers creep out a little bit further to find a better price,” Heavyside said. “But the thing is, they’re not too far away, so they really still have access to the amenities in Mont Albert or Surrey Hills.”

Buyers agent Cate Bakos said a proximity to train stations was a priority for home buyers and investors, but warned house hunters against getting too close.

“It’s not a deal-breaker, but if it’s close to a rail line it is valuable to buyers,” Bakos said. “It’s got to be close enough, but not too close. Within 400 metres is great but within 50 metres is terrible.

“If you’re on a stretch of the line with an express train sounding the horn as it goes past, you don’t want that to be your wake-up call.”

Bakos said the upgrading of train lines and stations both now and in the future would add to property prices.

That included the new Arden station in North Melbourne being built as part of the new city loop, which is due for completion in the next two years.

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