How close is too close when buying near shops and transport?

How close is too close when buying near shops and transport?

There are many benefits of living close to major conveniences such as public transport, shops, schools and city centres. But how close is too close?

Mark Novak is the owner of real estate firm Novak Properties. He says everyone is time-poor these days and being located next to features such as schools, transport links and shops is more important than ever.

“People used to be happy to live in the suburbs and drive to where they needed to but that’s less so now,” he says. “Even being close to restaurants is important because despite the success of cooking shows, the kitchen is used less often these days than 10-20 years ago.”

Novak says people definitely pay more for properties located near these key features. “As long as you’re not right on top of a train station because of the noise or next to a school because of the traffic congestion,” he says. “Schools are key as there are many people who pay over the odds to secure a property near a school they want their children to go to.”

Traffic congestions need to be considered when living near a school. Photo: Erin Jonasson

Marion Mays, founder of property investing mentoring firm Thalia Stanley, says deciding whether to buy on the doorstep of public transport, schools and shops or within close proximity to them is an age-old debate – as is how the decision will affect property prices for resale purposes.

“Our view is that for owner-occupier or rental purchases, buying in close proximity to these features is a good idea,” she says. “But they should be located within a walkable distance rather than right on top of them.”

Mays says the rule of thumb is a minimum 30-50 metres away from a train station or bus/tram depot and as long as the property has double glazing and full insulation, then buying close to these conveniences can be advantageous.

“New properties require things such as double glazing by law but older properties don’t meet this standard,” she says. “No one wants to live constantly with the noise from trains or buses. Being too close also means there is a general lack of that homely feeling a quiet street provides. There’s also the increased security risk associated with the increase in foot traffic.”

Keep in mind the noise that comes with being near trains or buses. Photo: Ben Rushton

ME Bank head of home loans Patrick Nolan says the bank’s valuers found that buyers pay a premium to be close – say within a 10-minute walk – of a railway station or tramline. “However, the opposite is true if a dwelling borders a railway line where visual and noise obtrusion affects the peace and enjoyment a property would otherwise offer,” he says.

Nolan says buyers will also pay a premium for properties close to “trendy shopping strips” where owners can benefit from a leisurely walk to their local cafe for breakfast, lunch, or coffee with friends.

“There does not appear to be a similar premium to be close to drive-through style restaurants that by nature tend to be on main roads,” he says.

One thing that always seems to be true is that if you buy near a good school, your property will retain, and most likely increase, its value. For example, the latest Domain School Zones Report shows that in Sydney’s 10 fastest growing school catchments, prices increased by more than 20 per cent in the 12 months to October 2016, compared to 1.5 per cent growth Sydney-wide.

“While being close to a school, particularly if it’s considered a good school, is usually thought to be attractive to buyers, the value does depend on the school’s reputation,” Nolan says. “And it also depends on what part of the school the home overlooks or abuts ??- beautiful, park-like grounds or poorly maintained buildings.”