Buying power: what new Sydney median house and unit prices actually buys

Isabel Ave unit

Jacqui Thompson is selling an apartment in Vaucluse priced near the Sydney median unit price. Picture: Julian AndrewsSource:News Limited

Sydney’s property boom has widened an already glaring gap between city prices and those in the rest of the country.

Data released this week showed the median price of a house is on the brink of hitting an unprecedented $1.2 million after surging nearly 15 per cent over 2021.

The median was $1.02 million at the start of the year and is now $1.19 million.

Apartment prices are also closing in on a significant milestone, with the median just shy of $800,000, according to CoreLogic data.

Price rises have been so extreme that Sydney buyers can expect to pay more than double what buyers pay in smaller capitals – and for much smaller houses in most cases.

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Sydney’s median even dwarfs Melbourne’s soaring prices, with house prices an average of nearly $280,000 higher, despite home buyers in both cities having similar incomes.

The average gap between Melbourne and Sydney units is about $175,000.

Isabel Ave unit

PERTH: This historic estate recently sold for $1.2m – close to the Sydney median.Source:Supplied

Isabel Ave unit

SYDNEY: This heritage-protected house in St Peters went to market with a price guide of $1.2m but actually sold for closer to $1.7m.Source:Supplied

CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said Sydney has pulled so far away from the rest of the country because there has been a greater shortage of available housing.

Previous price booms, such as over 2013-2017, also left many upsizing families with considerable equity in their existing homes, which they were often using to get bigger loans for their next properties, Mr Lawless said.

This wealth affect was not as strong in other capitals because the prices were not as high to start with.

Realestate.com.au director of economic research Cameron Kusher said the high cost of living in Sydney meant homeowners in other capitals were often better off financially even if they earned less.

“Sydney incomes tend to be higher but you will have less left over after housing costs than in (smaller) capitals,” he said.

Isabel Ave unit

This Adelaide house sold at the Sydney median house price.Source:Supplied

Mr Kusher said Sydney’s higher prices were from a mix of factors, including less space for urban sprawl and historically higher migration from overseas.

Property listings reveal $1.2 million represents the upper end of the housing market in every capital bar Melbourne and Canberra.

That price in Adelaide would secure a sizeable house with a pool and tennis court in the suburb of Seacombe Heights – roughly five minutes’ drive from the beach.

In Perth, $1.2 million would buy a two-level, modern house in the inner suburb of Subiaco or a historic mansion on a 6000sqm block in the Darling Ranges east of the city.

Isabel Ave unit

GOLD COAST: this house in Burleigh Waters is priced near the Sydney median.Source:Supplied

Isabel Ave unit

SYDNEY: This one-bedroom house in Paddington is for sale around the $1.2m mark.Source:Supplied

Brisbane houses for sale at close to Sydney’s median include a two-level “Queenslander” in the coastal suburb of Manly.

By comparison, most of Sydney’s $1.2 million houses are more than 30km from the CBD.

Among the only houses within that price point in the eastern suburbs was a boxy, one-bedroom house in Paddington.

In the inner west, $1.2 million could secure an uninhabitable terrace in St Peters. The agent revealed the price for the crumbling house represented “land value”.

Most northern beaches houses were well over $1.2 million, while buyers on the north shore could get a few houses near Ryde or north of Hornsby for that price.

Isabel Ave unit

This Reservoir house in Melbourne’s northern suburbs sold for $1.2m.Source:Supplied

Isabel Ave unit

SYDNEY: This house in West Ryde has a guide price of $1.2m.Source:Supplied

In the west, $1.2 million would often secure a modern, four-bedroom house in an outer suburb such as Box Hill, or an older three-bedroom house in a more established suburb such as Kings Langley in the Blacktown area.

And down south, some duplexes in the outer suburbs of the Sutherland Shire were priced at about $1.2 million, as were older houses needing a renovation.

Apartments available at the median unit price also varied but the differences across city regions were not as large as with houses.

Among the units available at the median was a neatly-presented one-bedroom apartment a short walk from the coast in Vaucluse.

Seller of the Isabel Ave unit Jacqui Thompson said the suburb was an “undiscovered gem” for apartment buyers, who often dismissed the area thinking it was too expensive.

Isabel Ave unit

This Isabel Ave apartment is priced at close to the Sydney median unit price.Source:Supplied

Isabel Ave unit

The unit is a short walk from the Vaucluse dramatic coastline.Source:Supplied

“People just think of the luxury houses and think the area is too expensive but the units are good value and it’s a truly amazing location,” she said.

The Agency’s Brad Gillespie said there was a misconception about Vaucluse and much of the eastern suburbs when it came to units. “Buyers don’t research the location because they think there are only multimillion dollar houses but there is value there,” he said. “It’s has become a hidden treasure because people think it is worth more.”

Mr Kusher said more Sydney buyers would have to accept unit living as house prices continued to climb. “There is no more space to build houses outside of a few areas,” he said. “The only direction Sydney can really build is up.”

Originally published asWhat average home price actually buys you

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