Real Estate Expert
When I started in real estate 35 years ago, Western Sydney didn’t have the relevance it does now. It’s taken just three decades for this quiet, outlying region to transform into the country’s third largest economy and home to almost half of Sydney’s residents today.
In the 1980s, housing affordability wasn’t a major issue in Sydney. People could generally buy a long-term home close to the city where most of them worked. There was nothing really pushing people to move ‘out west’ unless they particularly liked the area, wanted more land or wanted to be close to manufacturing jobs.
image via McGrath
However, since then Sydney’s economy and population has exploded, necessitating massive urban sprawl of housing to our west. As the region’s population grew, so did services. Major shopping centres, schools, hospitals, transport and recreational amenities were developed and this attracted more families again.
While all this development was going on, the sheer size of Western Sydney and its distance from the CBD kept property affordable. It was an ideal starting point for young families buying their first home and unskilled immigrants looking to start a new life amongst fellow countrymen in the west’s rising immigrant communities.
In the early 2000s, we saw more of Sydney’s middle income bracket move west seeking more land to build their dream homes (remember the McMansions of the early 2000s)? Sydney’s property boom during this period made housing close to the city more expensive and encouraged more people to ‘go west’ for value.
Ongoing population growth boosted by surging immigration has forced governments to invest in further infrastructure to service this burgeoning region.
House prices have gone up a lot – in fact, CoreLogic figures* show that among the 22 Sydney suburbs with a 20-year annual compound growth rate in median house prices of 10% or more, 91% of them were in Western Sydney.
Parramatta has cemented itself as Sydney’s second CBD and evolved from a suburb ‘on the outskirts’ in the 1980s to the geographic heart of our rapidly expanding city today. Parramatta is a thriving economic hub with more than $10 billion to be invested in transport, education, health, sport and cultural projects between 2016-2021.
This includes Stage One of WestConnex, the Parramatta Light Rail, the redevelopment of Westmead health precinct, a new cultural centre including the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences on the Parramatta River; and a new 30,000-seat Western Sydney Stadium to replace the old Pirtek Park and swimming centre.
A dramatic 18% increase in Parramatta’s population is expected between 2016-2021.
Western Sydney has several other significant economic hubs, including Liverpool, Blacktown, Penrith and Rouse Hill.
Rouse Hill was among the 22 suburbs with the best house price growth, averaging 10.9% per annum since 1998. This suburb is still developing but it has already become a crucial suburban centre for the north west.
Rouse Hill is part of the NSW Government’s North West Growth Corridor, in which more than 33,000 new homes will be built by 2026. A new hospital is being planned and the 10-year-old Rouse Hill Town Centre is undergoing a $300M expansion that will include 80 new retailers and hundreds of new apartments.
Developers are proactively acquiring large parcels of land for residential development, particularly around the Metro Northwest’s Tallawong railway station, not far from Rouse Hill Town Centre.
The broader Western Sydney is still growing today. It’s the one part of Sydney that still has so much promise and the space needed to capitalise on it. A million more people are expected to live there by the early 2030s and by 2050, it will house more people than Brisbane and Perth combined.
Despite all this promising growth, there are two things holding the region back. Not enough employment to enable residents to work locally, which necessitates a long commute on traffic-clogged roads to the city. This commute is getting longer and there’s a generation of young people who would rather rent for life near the CBD than travel from a home they own out west.
But everything is about to change and it means big things for the Western Sydney property market.
The first big change is with regard to public transport that will reduce the commute to the city.
Next year, the north west will have its first heavy train line with the 52km Metro Northwest connecting Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Bella Vista, Kellyville and Rouse Hill directly to the CBD.
The 33km WestConnex is on its way, which will transform the city-west connection and take 25 minutes off the Parramatta to CBD trip. The Metro West fast train service from Parramatta to the CBD will also transform the commute, with travel reduced from 32 minutes to potentially as little as 15 minutes.
Parramatta Light Rail will connect several western precincts for the first time, enabling easier access to local jobs and entertainment options.
The second big change for the region is the Western Sydney Airport. This brand new 24/7 curfew-free international airport is going to re-shape the region from top to bottom. It’s the game changer of a lifetime.
Initially, the most important thing it will do is generate jobs. During the construction phase, 11,000 jobs will be created with 30% going to locals. A further 27,000 jobs will follow in the five years after the airport opens in 2026, with 50% targeted to locals.
The surrounding ‘Aerotropolis’ will become one of Sydney’s biggest economic zones, with endless opportunities for investment. This 10,000 hectare greenfield site will enable major local and international companies to set up shop with direct exporting and importing made easy.
There will be many major associated infrastructure projects, including a brand new train line likely to run from Macarthur to Schofields with a connection to the Metro Northwest at Tallawong station in Rouse Hill.
Western Sydney is now a key focus of government infrastructure planning. The Greater Sydney Plan divides Sydney into three cities including the Central River City around Parramatta and the Western Parkland City around the airport. The aim is for all Sydneysiders to live within 30 minutes of their jobs and everything else they need for a great life.
If we look at Western Parkland City alone, the population of this region which incorporates Liverpool, Penrith, Campbelltown-Macarthur and the airport precinct is estimated at 1,070,000 today. By 2036, it will be more than 1,500,000, with 185,000 new houses and 200,000 new jobs compared to 2016.
That’s just one example of the incredible growth ahead for Western Sydney, making it one of the most exciting property markets in Australia today.