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Petrol prices make public transport very important. Tram and train access are particular drivers of housing demand, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria says.
Buying properties near train stations and other public transport has always been a smart move. It's an investment strategy proven by the fact the value of real estate close to transport links has grown strongly in recent years.
With the rising cost of petrol and ongoing population growth, houses and units with quick and easy access to bus and train services will become even more desirable as investments. As the populations of cities such as Melbourne and Sydney expand and bulge at the seams, traffic congestion is becoming more widespread. As a result, residences in areas that make it easy to avoid driving in peak traffic are now more highly prized.
Real estate agents say properties within easy walking distance of at least one public transport network - and, ideally, two or three - are attracting a growing price premium.
Buyers are becoming more discerning about transport links, says Robert Larocca, the communications manager of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.
''There are train stations that get the express service and there are those at which you have to wait for the train to stop,'' he says.
''Being close to that express service is a big positive.''Mr Larocca says time is money for people who commute, and savvy buyers target properties close to big transport hubs. These often combine a busy, multi-line railway station with a bus exchange or an integrated tram service.
It's one thing, though, for a buyer to note that a property up for sale is in a suburb with a train station. You need to look more deeply and ask how far away is the station from the property you are considering buying.
If it is a four or five-minute walk from the station, the property is likely to experience better capital growth, and to attract a higher rent, than a comparable property that's 20 minutes from the station. If it's two minutes from the station, it may attract a further premium.
It's wise to choose carefully, though. A property on a noisy main road, adjoining a train station or tram stop, is often worth 10 per cent or 15 per cent less than one around the corner in a quieter spot.Agents specialising in selling inner-suburban property say properties within two to five minutes' walk of public transport attract more buyers.
Investors should always be aware that some tenants do not have a car. Even those who do often prefer to use public transport.Catherine Cashmore, a buyer's advocate with National Property Buyers, deals with dozens of people who are seeking professional assistance to find a home or investment property. ''In every home-buyer inquiry I've had this year, being close to public transport has been on the must-have list,'' she says.
''The only time you find access to public transport becomes less important is when a buyer is looking for well-proportioned land to build a family home.''Astute buyers keep an eagle eye on the latest developments in infrastructure.
Mr Larocca says the recent announcement of a rail project in Melbourne's west, which involves building new suburban stations, will ultimately be a strong factor in the area's future property market growth.He says it is difficult to unpick data about how the expansion of public transport networks affects property values.
He suspects this impact is felt most strongly in suburbs within a 10 to 15-kilometre radius of the city centre. ''In particular, it is the trams and trains that are the drivers of demand,'' Mr Larocca says.
''I'm not sure that buyers look at bus routes in quite the same way. As the city grows, access to train lines is even more important - the only way for Melbourne to go forward is to have a decent public transport system and that's decent heavy rail.''
This article first appeared on theage.domain.com.au
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