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Hike in real estate prices - December 2005

As the Redfern-Waterloo Authority cranks up renewal projects, HANNAH SPURR takes a look at property values in the area in The Southside News 4/2005 p 9 in December 2005.

Redfern's property market looks set to continue to grow with the implementation of the urban renewal projects in the area.

According to Mr Walter Burfitt-Williams, real estate agent at McGrath Eastern Suburbs, the impact of the projects is substantial.

"It is huge. In an inner city urban area there hasn't been something like this in a long time. It is one of those grand plans and people are waiting to see what happens - it's a stage by stage project.

"The [inner-city] market is really the strongest it has been in a year and a half Redfern particularly, we have had an extraordinary run just recently. We are selling everything we can at auction," he said.

Mr Steve Tamas, of PRD Nationwide Real Estate, sees it differently. He said prices have dropped over the past 18 months, with the slow commencement of the urban renewal projects having no impact as yet. "The Redfern Waterloo Authority should have a reasonable impact on the property if they get things happening. But nothing's happened," said Tamas.

The plan to create a business arid technology park and $20 million upgrades of both Regent and Redfern Streets and Redfern Park are just some of the proven set to boost the area and its image..

The construction of a new building at Australian Technology Park, due to begin early in 2006, is expected to boost the local economy.

Statistics obtained from McGrath between August 2004 and July 2005 show the average median price for a house in Redfern rose from $487,000 to $515,000, compared to the City of Sydney which in that time rose by only $23,000.

While Redfern is posting higher growth, its start from a lower base shows it is just catching up on the housing prices of inner-city neighbours.

In January and March this year, Redfern recorded prices higher than average City of Sydney sales.

Of the streets in highest demand, the eastern end leads the way. Both Tamas and Burfitt-Williams are in agreement that Great Buckingham, Telopea, Kepos, Marion, Pitt and Baptist Streets continue to show the greatest growth in prices and interest.

"But if you go down to Eveleigh Street. forget it." Tamas said.

Burfitt-Williams said the image of Redfern has undergone significant change over the past few years, progressing from a low socio-economic city hub to a hip and funky inner-city area.

"It certainly has gentrified quite a bit. There are certainly a lot more funky cafes, a café-gallery type culture and restaurants that might not have been there five years ago but are really just emerging.

"The Bank Street precinct in east Redfern has certainly given the area a kick along," he said.

But for Mr Brett Ozanne, of Laing and Simmons in Redfern, reputation continues to be a factor.

"It has been an area where reputation has outweighed past and current sale figures, where some buyers and old time residents have no idea [of ] the value on properties.

"[But] the area's proximity to the CBD makes it attractive to both home owners and investors alike," he said.

Despite added interest in the area, growth has remained on a consistent level over the past two years compared to the rapid but ultimately slowed growth of near neighbour Alexandria.

"Redfern and Redfern East always had a more solid foundation. It has held its own in value despite recent events and that is in part due to the rejuvenation of the area," Burfitt-Williams said.

At the market's healthiest houses in Pitt Street have fetched over one million dollars.

More and more people are going into the area and see what it is like. And a lot of people have asked how it is going, especially as they hear so many conflicting things," Burfitt-Williams said.

While not explicitly mentioning the urban renewal projects when discussing the area with clients, Burfitt-Williams does point to the Redfern Street refurbishment, shopping precinct and court house as evidence the area is receiving a face lift.

"People are generally professionals who are buying into the area. People who could afford Paddington or Bellevue Hill but just love the area and stay," he said.

In contrast, Tamas finds buyers are generally drawn from the area. "Most owner-occupiers lived in Redfern or surrounding areas," he said.

But image is still an issue for many considering a move to Redfern.

"The problem seems to be people's perception of Redfern. Their perception has always been of a lower class, semi-Indigenous area and it's going to take a long time, for whoever takes it on, for that to change. It's not going to change overnight," Tamas said.

But Tamas, Ozanne and Burfitt-Williams all agree the area will rise up and in terms of the projects, the best is yet to come.

"I would forecast an increase of up to 10 per cent for units and 15 per cent for semis and terraces in the area in the next 12 months. The urban renewal plans and master plan will attract more professional industry and increase demand for housing in the area" Ozanne said.

"The area's proximity to the CBD makes it attractive to both home owners and investors alike."