Where is Sydney's real Chinatown? Juwai.com's Gavin Norris

Where is Sydney's real Chinatown? Juwai.com's Gavin Norris
Where is Sydney's real Chinatown? Juwai.com's Gavin Norris
GUEST OBSERVER
 
If you ask anyone where to find Sydney's true Chinatown, they will tell you "Haymarket." They will be wrong.
 
The location of Chinatown has implications for property markets and real estate development. Anyone who invests in real estate should know where these active participants in the housing market prefer to live and work. 
 
It's true that Haymarket used to be Sydney's main Chinatown. It's full of tall buildings and places to buy Asian food, drink, and trinkets. Sydney's real Chinatown, though, has moved up to the Upper North Shore -- that group of suburbs located between Hornsby and Chatswood, mostly in Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Shire councils.
 
Chatswood alone has four times the population of Haymarket ––at more than 20,000 people. Forty-seven percent of Chatswood residents are foreign born.
 
It's no surprise that Chinatown has moved from Haymarket to the Upper North Shore. It has happened before. Sydney's first Chinatown, or "Chinese Quarter" as it was then known, was located in the Rocks from about the 1850s. 
 
What has turned the Upper North Shore into Sydney's real Chinatown?
 
Juwai.com's Chinese buyer survey reveals that education motivates 44.6 percent of Chinese buyers in the area. The schools, proximity to ethnic services and retail outlets in Chatswood and quick train connection to the city all make the Upper North Shore a magnet for Chinese families.
 
You might be surprised to know that just 27.7 percent of Chinese Upper North Shore purchasing inquiries are motivated by investment goals, meaning nearly three-quarters are owner-occupiers.
 
In 2016, the suburb of WAHROONGA has been the fastest gainer with Chinese buyers, with 56 percent more inquiries in the third quarter than in the second.
 
One other thing you notice about the new Chinatown of Sydney's Upper North Shore is that it's not all cheap apartments and starter homes. Quite the opposite, in fact.
 
These suburbs are known as some of the best in Sydney, and there are many premium buyers. Nearly half of all area inquiries are for properties with at least four bedrooms.
 
What is the future for real estate in Sydney's new Chinatown? 
 
For one, don't expect prices to fall much. High prices will continue so long as people like living there as much as they now do. Families who love their suburb don't sell their home unless they have to. That's one reason there are about 20% fewer auctions in the area than there were this time last year.
 
We also expect the buyer makeup to remain relatively unchanged. Looking at Chinese-background buyers, in particular, almost all are Australian legal permanent residents or Australian citizens. You don’t have as many Chinese flying in from places like Shanghai to buy here.
 
Another reason we expect to see a floor under prices is the area's high quality, renewed housing stock. The land in the Upper North Shore is often more valuable than the house sitting on it. After buying, the majority of new owners invest in renovating, expanding and even replacing the older homes. This investment will help maintain or even push up prices when these properties go back on the market in the future.
 
Agent James Pratt, who is director of auctions for Raine & Horne and James Pratt Auctions, told me that on Provincial Road in Lindfield, Houses No. 32 and 36 recently fetched more than $3 million at auction. In previous years, he said, they would have obtained a lower price.
 
“It used to be that any property over the $2 million mark would have fewer registered bidders than a $700,000 unit, but it’s been the opposite this year, with 12 to 15 people registered at most houses," he said.
 
"Fifteen registered is traditionally seen in highly sought-after entry-priced units."
 
Gavin Norris is head of Australia for Juwai.com, the No. 1 Chinese international property portal and can be contacted here.
 

 

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Sydney China

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