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Sydney's North Shore Leads Residential Market Recovery

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As Sydney’s auction clearance rate this week topped 80% the North Shore accounted for about 15% of activity. However, it’s worth noting that a high proportion of those sales were ‘sold prior’ and this is just one pointer to why the North Shore market will remain strong and popular during the current up-swing and be a leading region during this early phase of the residential market’s recovery.

Sydney’s North Shore is one of Australia’s most popular and diverse residential markets and as such is a great barometer to a wider and more sustained property recovery. I think it’s well worth considering the regions credentials driving activity.

Among the headline factors is that the North Shore benefits greatly from outstanding, diverse and well-established infrastructure. As urban areas like Sydney accommodate more growth, it’s impossible not to take the positives that infrastructure delivers into account.

The diversity of the region’s infrastructure is perhaps perfectly illustrated by Chatswood Station where the north-west link of Sydney’s new Metro now links with train and bus services for the first time in Sydney. The benefits of the Metro will only improve as the line is expanded into the CBD and then beyond to Bankstown.

The North Shore has an impressive history that comes more into focus and the Metro joins the landmark 1890’s start to the North Shore railway, and the completion of Sydney Harbour Bridge’s in 1932.

The NorthConnex a twin nine kilometre tunnels joining the M1 Pacific Motorway and the Hills M2 Motorway that started in 2016 is coming to an end of construction is another big tick transport project.

Beyond transport, the North Shore is also well-known for its range of private schools and a world-ranked university plus, it’s cultural and varied retail and medical facilities.

However, it is the region’s rich diversity of residential property and an evolving and progressive demographic that combine to power the appeal and resilience of this exceptional residential market.

Defining the region.

The three local council areas; North Sydney, Willoughby and Ku-ring-gai together make up the area generally regarded as the North Shore. Looking at each we get an idea of their relative size.

North Sydney has a population of approximately 75,000, a land area of 1,049 ha and a population density of 70.72 person per hectare. Willoughby has 80,500, a land area of 2,243 ha and density of 35.81 persons per hectare (half that of North Sydney). Ku-ring-gai has the larger population at 126,200 and a land area of 8,544 ha and a very low density of just 14.75 persons per hectare.

For comparison the City of Sydney has a population that’s fast approaching 250,000, an area of 2,672 ha and a population density of 89.90 persons per hectare.

The nature and history of the North Shore’s transport system and its varied topography has to a great extend lead to development being concentrated around transport nodes.

While the area’s topography has helped to create some high value micro-markets that remain in high demand and have also helped to create a uniquely diverse residential markets including North Sydney and Milsons Point, these each offer some valuable clues to the area’s resilience even during tough time.

North Sydney does a great job as a compliment to Sydney’s CBD, it’s a diverse and expending commercial market and when combined with its neighbour, boutique focused Milsons Point, we can see many attributes of the wider North Shore residential market.

Combined North Sydney includes Cammeray & Crows Nest to the north, McMahons Point & Kirribilli to the south, Wollstonecraft to the west and Cremorne to the east and of course Milsons Point, the sheer variety and energy of the area gives it massive appeal.

North Sydney is being redefined by a new generation of apartment projects and several high-profile commercial projects that are reshaping the suburbs that will soon be super-charged by the opening of two new Metro line stations in 2024, at Crows Nest and Victoria Cross in the heart of North Sydney.

The existing CityRail stations and the new metro stations will tie North Sydney into the booming north-west and Barangaroo and help access the big residential populations to Sydney’s south. This is a great example of where access to employment has fuelled that area’s appeal and is further evidence of why this market will lead in the market’s recovery.

As more apartments have been developed across Sydney planners have aimed to encourage the evolution of distinct neighbourhoods, and it’s a trend very much evident in the appeal of many North Shore suburbs including North Sydney, Milsons Point, St Leonards and Chatswood.

I’m suggesting that the appeal of inner-city living is more attractive when typified by individual neighbourhoods. And this is very much in evidence across the North Shore markets, including this section of the Lower North Shore. All of which is important for the long-term appeal of North Sydney apartments for current and future residents.

North Sydney itself is a compact area although it has immediate access to several very distinctive neighbourhoods while its immediate relationship to the Sydney CBD will always be appealing and greatly augmented by the new Metro.

North Sydney for example is now a very distinctive neighbourhood, the area is affluent and there’s more room for further development. Its popularity is on the rise and greatly enhanced by its near harbourside location, great rail and Metro connections, open space, evolving retail and commercial facilities, making it a key employment hub.

The appeal of North Sydney has seen the majority of commercial space in Milsons Point converted and redeveloped into apartments. The strength of the market has spilled over into North Sydney itself and has moved along the Pacific Highway driving St Leonards and Chatswood. The new Metro station will then help drive more development in Crows Nest.

Further development is also taking place in projects like Lindfield Village Hub which covers a 1.34 ha site just 150 metres from the train station and will deliver varied community facilities, retail and parking, and apartments ranging  between 7 and 14 storeys.

While, large projects like the Metro are vital and cost billions of dollars, projects like this impact the quality of life for residents, and their families and visitors to the area in a very personal and tangible way.

They area also important in helping to ensure the village style appeal of the area is not damaged by the scale of population growth but is enhanced with mutli-use and high value projects.

Much of the North Shore also has appeal among local downsizers, which is not surprising given that the area is well established with mature residential markets ripe for generational recycling. This trend has also seen high-profile redevelopment of older strata projects and sales of several adjoining homes to deliver prime sites for boutique townhouses and apartments.

Across the North Shore there are a wide choice of neighbourhoods that deliver the perfect mix of location, lifestyle, product quality and facilities. From a lifestyle perspective the North Shore has entire range of world-class class retail and cultural facilities or the choice of a slower more relaxed ‘village’ lifestyle.

A great area to live and invest

Some pockets of the North Shore are now characterised by a lack of supply, once people find a location they stay creating strong local demand and demand driven market.

The regions popularity remains very strong in particular with north-shore residents from Mosman to Gordon looking to downsize and seeking a local change into apartment living, the creates a quality driven, cashed-up and highly selective target market.

Key elements of a strong market

Sydney’s North Shore as I’ve already briefly outlined brings together an impressive list of credentials that will further drive demand over the next few years. There’s already evidence of a supply squeeze in some tightly held areas and this creates a good market for both developers and buyers.

Downsize buyers will benefit from new families looking to benefit from the area’s infrastructure, while second generation Asian families will be an important part of the areas change in demographics.

However, market diversity and segments are key elements of the area’s main positives with a great mix of traditional homes, town houses, medium and high-density apartments.

In summary what we see across the North Shore is a lively and evolving residential market that for many decades has been driven by constantly evolving infrastructure along with outstanding private investment. It’s the type of market I suggest that sustained and driven by the points discussed, is set to rebound ahead of many other markets.


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Peter Chittenden

Managing Director | Residential


Sydney CBD

My professional knowhow stems from an extensive career in Residential property development, project marketing, site acquisition and property valuation.

I rejoined Colliers International 11 years ago as Managing Director, and since then I have worked to grow my team and our Residential division by more than 300%.

Across the country we have successfully launched and sold over 100 Residential projects, and we have played an instrumental role in every aspect of these successes for our clients.

I have built a team that offers the complete end to end service for our clients and customers alike, from the site aquisition right through to the sale and settlement of every last apartment. 

My 30+ years of experience in real estate, and genuine passion for property has seen me involved across numerous key industry bodies and groups, as well as the establishment of my own thought leading blog, with over 4000 followers from within the industry. 

Prior to my time at Colliers International, I held the position of National Sales and Marketing Manager for Stockland Apartments. During his time I launched and managed a national portfolio of major projects and led a large national sales and marketing team. Prior to this, I started and ran my own successful project marketing company, Realm Project Marketing, for three years specialising in large land estates, housing and apartment projects predominantly in NSW, providing a high level of service that extended beyond the traditional sales appointment.

In my earlier role at Colliers International I was the National Director, Residential Land Marketing, where I established a highly successful division which led to the appointment of our business to project market several major estates in Sydney and Melbourne, which commenced long lasting relationships that our business still maintains today. 

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