Wrong side of the tracks? Are train stations and property values intrinsically linked?
While Sydney is embroiled in train driver strikes, scheduling issues and crowded platforms across the suburbs, Anna Porter says trains can be just as unreliable for the real estate sector.
Property adviser and former valuer Anna Porter of Suburbanite busts the adage that property values are improved through proximity to train stations.
“I hear this old wives’ tale, this property investment myth, on a weekly basis. I’m calling bullshit on people saying there has to be a train station in the suburb for a property to perform,” Ms Porter said.
Anna explains that just because a house is near to a train station does not mean that proximity to this amenity will dictate the value or performance of the investment.
With reference to some of Sydney’s most expensive suburbs lacking the ‘crucial investment necessity’ of a train station, Anna explains why access to train stations isn’t actually necessary to capital growth.
Anna thinks advice to buy near a train station is a load of rubbish. Let’s look at Sydney and the suburbs around Randwick and Vaucluse, Rose Bay for example. These suburbs don’t have train stations and they’re some of the most expensive markets in Sydney.
So how does that work? Firstly, you probably don’t need to worry about a train station in the suburb when you can afford to chauffeur the kids. In these affluent locations, obviously location to other amenities and facilities such as beaches, views, Sydney Harbour and access to schools is paramount to purchasers.
Cherrybrook, for example, in another part of Sydney is a place where people pay an absolute premium to be in that school catchment. Buyers there are not worried about access to train stations; there’s buses that take their kids to these popular and well-performing schools.
In other capital cities, trains are not core to people movement.
It’s not a priority for people in Adelaide to be sitting on a train station.
Recently, I presented a Sydney-based client of mine an investment property within 25 minutes of the Adelaide CBD. They came back with concerns that it would take over an hour to commute via public transport into the city to which I responded, ‘it’s Adelaide. People don’t catch public transport, they drive. It’s 20 minutes to everywhere. The parking is cheap and a lot of offices have their own parking and a lot of the street parking is free.
Anna says that neighbourhoods are shaped too, by proximity to train stations.
The department of housing has built a lot of their properties around the train stations in years gone by, so you’ll see a lot of those 60’s and 70’s style units around train stations.
The department of housing knows that when they’re dealing with a socio-economic demographic that are often struggling with employment and risk of homelessness, occupants often don’t have vehicles and cars because it’s just not in the budget. So, their residents will need to be accessing public transport.
And let’s get real. Kids and teenagers like to hang around train stations getting into trouble, smoke cigarettes and carry on with their mates because that’s where they get away with it and you don’t necessarily want to live on top of that.
Across the nation, the reliance on trains differs dramatically.
In Melbourne, the tram network is fantastic so people want to live in the tram network because they’re better then trains.
In Adelaide people drive to and from work, being in great commuter districts with access to freeways and things like that.
In Brisbane, the buses are fantastic, they sink into tunnels under the city with no traffic and also have their own lanes so people prefer them to trains which are relatively unreliable like Sydney.
Ultimately, Anna says that proximity to trains matters far less than the community’s own amenities locally.
You have to look at what suits the demographic and what the market needs. In some areas, people will pay a lot more to be in the school district as opposed to the train network. Many people don’t want to be in the train station areas because it does bring the riff-raff.
So, something to be mindful of; the old myth that an investment has to be near a train station is not correct.”
If you’re investing, cross that one off the list and get to know the local market and find out exactly what type of transport they want and need and make sure you aren’t doing something entirely different.
Don’t assume you have to be near the train station.