How to find real estate locations with good bones: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

How to find real estate locations with good bones: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder
How to find real estate locations with good bones: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder


Real estate consumers would be better informed if media could let go of its obsession with median price movements and auction outcomes in the two biggest cities as the barometer of all things real estate.

The state of the nation, in terms of housing markets, is too often seen through the prism of the property price indexes and clearance rates for Sydney and Melbourne.

Not only does this ignore the different scenarios occurring in other important markets, but it tells us very little that’s useful.

Investors essentially want to know where prices are going to move before they move. A report telling consumers how much prices moved in the recent past simply tells consumers where they should  have bought a year ago.

Equally a report that Sydney’s clearance rate is regularly topping 70% doesn’t tell us where in Sydney people should be buying and it’s useless information if you’re interested in some other part of the country.

There are much more useful barometers that actually provide clues about where prices might rise before they do so. Sales volumes often provide evidence about where prices are likely to move, up or down, and that’s why I put so much time and effort into publishing my Price Predictor Index every quarter.

Trends in the rental market are also a useful indicator of what might happen with prices. There’s ample research that shows that rents often rise for a period before prices start to react. And rents rise because vacancies are low. We saw that scenario play out in Sydney (before the recent correction) and also in Hobart where prices remain strong, with vacancies the lowest in capital city Australia.

I note that Simon Pressley of Propertyology, a researcher whose work deserves respect and attention, has recently reported on the importance of vacancy rates as an indicator of future price trends. I certainly agree with Pressley that low vacancies and strong rentals can be a precursor to a period of price growth.

With that in mind, I’m always interested in precincts where vacancies are super tight, particularly when those places have other solid credentials.

And you have look beyond the generalised figures published in mainstream media. Sydney might have a vacancy rate around 3.5%, but there are local precincts with tight rental markets. Postcode 2168 in the Liverpool LGA has a vacancy rate of just 1.8% and includes a range of suburbs where affordable (by Sydney standards) suburbs are attracting first-home buyers and others. 

Melbourne, where markets are on the boil again, has many local precincts where rental markets are very tight. In the Moreland LGA, most postcodes have vacancy rates well under 2%. The Brunswick West postcode is currently 1.2%, according to SQM Research, while the postcode covering Coburg and Coburg North is 1.3%.

These are real estate locations with good bones and it’s worth noting that during the recent period when Melbourne prices generally were falling, many of the apartment markets throughout the Moreland LGA continued to achieve growth in their median prices – and the tight rental market has kept yields in the 4% to 4.5% range, which is above average for Melbourne.

Rental markets are even tighter in nearby Darebin – most postcodes have vacancy rates below 1.5%. The Northcote postcode is 1% and the Thornbury postcode is 0.9%. In Preston, the vacancy rate is 1.3%, the median price for apartments has risen in the past year, and the median rental yield is 4.6%.

As Melbourne generally recovers from the post-boom correction, locations like these are going to be strong performers.

One reason that Ballarat has been delivering such strong price growth in recent years is the strength of its rental market. Vacancies have been under 3% for the past five years and currently average around 1.5%. Many suburbs have had double-digit growth in their median house prices in the past 12 months.

The revival of many regional Queensland markets has been heralded by big improvements in their rental markets. Mackay provides a striking example. When the resources investment boom evaporated, vacancies rose in Mackay and prices inevitably fell. But now vacancies are around 1.5%, rental yields of 5.5%, 6% and higher are available, and prices are now responding.

There are numerous examples across the nation – but you’re not going to find out about them by reading our metropolitan newspapers.

Terry Ryder is the founder of


Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder Hotspots

Community Discussion

Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?