Poor capital growth performance for beach retreats: Terry Ryder

Poor capital growth performance for beach retreats: Terry Ryder
Poor capital growth performance for beach retreats: Terry Ryder

The standout feature of Domain’s Top 10 prestige beach suburbs list is the remarkably poor performance on capital growth.

The best of them wouldn’t make the Top 10 list for capital growth rates in Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Sydney or Brisbane – nor the Top 25 list of best performers in regional Australia. 

One of the so-called Top 10, Noosa, has recorded zero growth over 10 years. This helps to confirm our ranking of Noosa as Australia’s biggest real estate lemon.

The Domain list of Top 10 prestige beach suburbs continues a grand tradition of Australian media publishing real estate lists that are pointless, inaccurate or farcical.

It says something about the mediocre performance of these apparently prestigious beachside locations that one of the Top 10 has recorded no growth at all over the past decade. 

It’s the antithesis of investment, which is meant to be about achieving growth. The only thing of value to owners in many of these ritzy locations is the ego trip. Beyond that, they’re crying all the way to the bank.

These locations, which include Brighton in Melbourne, Bronte in Sydney and Cottesloe in Perth, have all the qualities that many people imagine would make them out-performers on capital growth: great beaches, quality restaurants, wonderful amenities and top quality homes. 

Many investors would rue their inability to afford to buy there and grow their wealth. But they need not concern themselves: there’s better capital growth in the middle market areas and the downmarket suburbs, which dominate the Top 10 growth lists in most of our major cities.

Remember that old real estate adage about property doubling in value every 10 years, which means a growth rate averaging better than 7% per year? It’s generally untrue. The best performers achieve it, but most properties do not. And certainly none of the Top 10 prestige beach suburbs have done so.

The No.1 ranked prestige beach suburb for capital growth, which apparently is Brighton in Melbourne, has managed growth averaging just 6.7% per year.

No.2 Portsea, also in Melbourne, recorded growth averaging only 5.55% per year. This is not a stellar performance, although the people who put together the list apparently thought it was.

Byron Bay, which according to Domain Group senior economist Andrew Wilson is “an exceptional market”, has averaged a mediocre 5.4% per year - a growth rate at which it would take over 13 years for values to double.

The bottom half the Top 10 list is made up of suburbs with growth rates that don’t even match inflation. 

Main Beach on the Gold Coast has a growth rate of a little over 1% per year. Palm Beach in Sydney, where the median price is $2.7 million, has managed less than 1% per year.

To put these growth rates into perspective, the best suburbs in Darwin, Perth and Melbourne all have growth rates above 10% per year. The best in Sydney are above 9% per year.

And, outside the capital cities, the Top 25 regional centres all have growth rates of 10% per year or better, with the top four achieving 15%-plus. 

If you’d bought the typical Palm Beach property 10 years ago, you would have paid around $2.46 million and managed capital gains of around $220,000 a decade later. In real terms, you lost money.

If you’d spent that $2.46 million in the best-performing suburbs in Perth, Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne (you could have bought multiple properties in multiple cities for that sum), your capital gain would have been $4.2 million.

Which would you rather have: the prestige - or $4.2 million?


Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au. You can email him or follow him on Twitter. 


Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

Capital Growth Housing Market

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