House hunters’ chances of getting a COVID-19 bargain have evaporated after prices grew in all but two Sydney regions last year.
Research from property group CoreLogic revealed city home values grew by an average of nearly 3 per cent over 2020 but there were even bigger rises in the most popular regions for buyers.
The Central Coast led growth with average price rises of 8.5 per cent, while in the outer southwest, Blacktown, the Hills and far west there was a rise of close to 6 per cent.
The northern beaches and Ryde regions were also strong markets with growth near the 5 per cent mark.
Housing experts said regions such as the Central Coast and Western Sydney were popular with first homebuyers because they offered more opportunities to access government support schemes.
The larger blocks were also attracting big spending upsizers – many of who were seeking more space now that they were working from home.
The only regions where prices dropped were the unit-dominated inner city, and the Sutherland Shire.
The average drop across the inner city statistical area, which also includes suburbs such as Redfern and Waterloo, was 0.7 per cent.
The Sutherland Shire had the biggest average drop at 1.6 per cent, with new unit projects giving buyers increased choice.
CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said regions with a high concentration of new apartments were the weakest housing markets because of a decline in activity from investors.
Investors normally accounted for the bulk of apartment sales but many held off purchasing last year because of falling rents and rising vacancies, Mr Lawless said.
Much of the traditional tenant pool, especially in the inner city, were overseas students, travellers and recent migrants, he added.
The unit-dominated Parramatta region recorded a rise of less than a per cent over the year. Similar price movements were recorded in the inner west and north shore.
Price rises in the eastern suburbs and Canterbury-Bankstown area were closer to the Sydney average.
Mr Lawless said the general trend across Sydney was for suburbs to be “seller’s markets” where buyers outnumbered listings.
This was creating “urgency” in the market and buyers, fearing they would miss out on sales, made higher offers to leapfrog rival house hunters, he said.
McGrath-Terrigal agent Trevor Hamilton was behind some of the Central Coast biggest house sales last year and said most buyers were “sea-changers”.
Many of these families were moving out of popular inner suburbs because they didn’t need to work in an office any more, he said.
PRICE MOVEMENTS BY SYDNEY REGION – 2020
Central Coast 8.5%
Outer southwest 6.1%
Outer west and Blue Mountains 5.9%