The West

Location, lifestyle...reasonable price tag

They may not be Perth's $1 million suburbs . . . yet.

After consulting with property experts, The West Australian has found some of the city's "hidden gem" suburbs that offer a million-dollar location and lifestyle but without the price tag.

These are the spots that many buyers drive by or have yet to explore as a potential new home or investment opportunity.

It's a tough search. New figures from RP Data show that in the past 12 months just 16 per cent of homes exchanged hands for less than $400,000. Only Sydney (13.5 per cent) and Canberra (7.5 per cent) have a lower proportion.

A decade earlier, 85 per cent of Perth homes had sticker prices of less than $400,000.

Near the top of the list is the northern suburb Two Rocks, which offers space and views of the Indian Ocean.

LJ Hooker Two Rocks principal Adam Fields said the size of the blocks were the suburb's biggest selling point and were drawing buyers away from smaller developments closer to the city.

"That's why everyone moves here, they want the big block with the big shed," Mr Fields said.

Stacey and Ben Moltzan sold their Butler home to move to their 853sqm property in Two Rocks. The size of the block and proximity to the ocean - about 500m away - were enough for them to spend $550,000 on a new two-storey, four-bedroom, two- bathroom property.

"That coastal small-town feel has always been our dream," Mrs Moltzan said.

"Obviously, there's the block size but the price of it was probably too good to pass up in the end."

Valuer Lachlan Delahunty, of Propell National Valuers, said any suburb could be hiding that something special that could catch the eye of buyers and lead to inflated prices.

There's also the "suburb ripple effect", where one place takes off, leaving its immediate neighbours as cheaper options.

"In recent times this had been evident in Victoria Park receiving immense growth filtering from bigger brother South Perth, Innaloo from Scarborough and the list goes on," he said.

"Looking ahead, if the ripple continues it is foreseeable neighbouring suburbs such as St James and Bentley will continue this trend."

Master Builders Association housing director Gavan Forster said Innaloo was one to watch. He said being about 10km from the city centre with good rail and road access was a big selling point. Also on Mr Forster's list was Rockingham. "It's a beachside suburb with lots of big blocks prime for development," he said.

Investor Assist general manager Peter Gianoli has High Wycombe and Hamilton Hill on his list of hidden gems. He said the median price in both suburbs was between $485,000 and $525,000, making them very affordable.

"Both suburbs are located near extensive road networks and public transport links, are within easy access to schools and have excellent amenities such as parks and public open spaces," he said.

"They also have a large number of long-term owners who have substantial equity in their properties and have made significant home improvements, making homes for sale quite appealing."

Bassendean was cited by some experts as a place to watch. The median apartment price there is $363,000. Neighbouring areas are closer to the $450,000 mark. About 10km out from central Perth, it combines good location with solid public transport. Not far up the road is the Swan Valley, plenty of spots have river views and it is close to Guildford.

Property valuer Gavin Hegney said Scarborough was a hidden gem, thanks in part to new infrastructure driven by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority and apartment developments.

"It's the most affordable coastal suburb in Perth," he said.

"One of the things when suburbs are in demand is new services brings new people to the area, which enhances that desirability of the area, that enhances amenities which then increase the desirability to live there, which increases property prices."

Even within higher priced suburbs, there are bargains.

Real Estate Institute of WA data shows that in riverside Mt Pleasant the cheapest quartile of homes have a median price of $768,000, even though the suburb's overall median price is more than $1 million.

Nearby in Attadale the lower quartile for house prices is about $370,000 cheaper than its overall median of $1.2 million.

"This won't last for ever because astute buyers, especially those with an eye on land values, will take advantage," REIWA president David Airey said.

The West Australian

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