What $1m buys you: house hunting in today’s uncertain property market

Australian home prices are easing but mostly remain above pre-pandemic levels. Here’s where to find affordability and space

The heat may be coming out of the housing market but prices across most regions remain at least 15% above pre-pandemic levels.

The average price for a house across Australian capital cities is $1,192,586 – a 6.4% increase on the past 12 months, while the average unit price is $605,837 – a 4.2% increase.

Tim Lawless, the research director at CoreLogic, says buyers seeking affordability and space should still be looking to the regions, where values are falling after surging by more than 40% between March 2020 and January of this year.

“The largest falls in regional home values are emanating from the commutable lifestyle hubs, where housing values had surged prior to the recent rate hikes,” he says.

“Lower housing prices and higher incomes should make home ownership more achievable for non-home owners, but headwinds remain in being able to save for a deposit and demonstrate the ability to service a loan amid such a high cost of living.”

With that in mind, we have looked at what $1m can buy you in the current market. Here’s what we found.

Melbourne CBD

Melbourne’s inner city has experienced the fastest growth in the past 12 months of any region across the greater Melbourne area.

The median price for a property in the CBD is now $535,655 – a 13.4% increase on a year ago. That’s in stark contrast to falls of 1.2% across Melbourne in the same timeframe.

Buyers looking to invest in the CBD can nab an apartment for $1m if they’re happy to skimp on size. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment just off Elizabeth Street in the heart of the city falls within the $1m price range.

Amenities include air conditioning, an alarm system, built-in wardrobes, a dishwasher and intercom. At 83 sq metres, it’s cosy, but residents have access to an indoor spa and gym facilities. Head one suburb along to South Melbourne and the median price jumps to $1.9m.

Gold Coast

What a $1m buys you on the Gold Coast: a four-bedroom home set on a half-acre block at Mount Nathan.
What $1m buys you on the Gold Coast: a four-bedroom home set on a half-acre block at Mount Nathan. Photograph: LJ Hooker

The Gold Coast has experienced sustained growth throughout the pandemic, jumping by 24.6% in Surfers Paradise in the past 12 months.

The median property price at Surfers Paradise is $731,644, while nearby Oxenford is $845,245 and the Gold Coast Hinterland is $986,796.

The rapid growth has paced similarly to parts of greater Brisbane, where property prices have risen by up to 29% in some parts of the city.


For $1m buyers can get a four-bedroom steel-frame home set on a half-acre block at Mount Nathan – complete with a small in-ground pool and gazebo.

The master bedroom comes with an en suite, walk-in wardrobe and spa, while the full-length veranda overlooks the Nathan Valley and state forest. The highlight, though, may be the combustion fireplace.

The downside? You’re a 30-minute drive from the Gold Coast CBD, with very little in the immediate surrounds aside from parklands and a pet resort.

South-west Sydney

Of the top 10 areas for growth in Sydney in the past year, five are in south-west Sydney or its outskirts.

In the past week alone, combined property prices have risen by 2.8% in the area, despite growth across greater Sydney becoming sluggish.

In the past year, properties have increased by 0.7% to a median of $1,669,829 across greater Sydney, while median unit prices are about $700,000.

But in the south-west Sydney suburb of Bringelly dwelling prices have jumped by 10.2% in the past 12 months to around $1,068,706. The median house price in Camden is just shy of that, at $1,006,148, following 7.9% growth in the past 12 months.

$1m can secure you a new four-bedroom, single-storey display home on a block of lots in Catherine Field in Sydney’s south-west.

Included in the package is alarmed doors, flyscreens, a dishwasher, a stencil concrete driveway and brick letterbox. At 375 sq metres, it’s more than quadruple the space attainable in Melbourne’s CBD. But it’s more than an hour’s drive from Parramatta, with little train access.

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Median house prices on the Mornington Penninsula are around $1m – including for this four bedroom home.
Median house prices on the Mornington Penninsula are around $1m – including for this four-bedroom home. Photograph: Impact Realty Group

The Mornington Peninsula has been one of the key areas of growth in Victoria over the past three years. In the past 12 months property prices have jumped by 11.8% as buyers rush to access a slice of Victoria’s coastline.

Median house prices on the peninsula are now $979,372. At the same time last year, they were $847,905.

Buyers with a $1m limit are priced out of the expensive seaside towns of Sorrento, Portsea and Red Hill, but they can secure a four-bedroom Federation-style home in Mornington with a study and two bathrooms, close to schools and shops.

For keen swimmers, it’s a 40-minute walk to the closest beach, or a five-minute drive.

Upper Normandy, northern France

Money can’t buy everything, but it can buy – by way of comparison – a 19th century manor in the north of France.

A little more than a $1m secures buyers a four-bedroom chateau with an “artistic and rural soul” set on three hectares of land, complete with a heated swimming pool, two ponds, an orchard, a secondary house, garages and outbuildings.

In France, chateaus can be bought for less than the price of a small Paris apartment, largely because the upkeep is a huge money and time drain. But if maintenance is your thing, ditching Australia for greener pastures (literally) may be just the ticket.

Abruzzo, Italy

Situated along the Adriatic coast in Italy’s east, Abruzzo’s real estate market has been largely accessible to foreign buyers due to its low density, wide housing availability and reasonable prices since the global economic crisis.

With a budget of $1m, buyers can afford a five-bedroom villa in the seaside town of Montesilvano, 2.5km from the beach and 200km from Rome.

Surrounded by a private garden with Mediterranean trees and plants, the four-floor interior comes with a wooden staircase, ceramic-tiled floors and gas-fired central heating.

The cons? It’s not an easy commute to Australia, and owning a home doesn’t entitle you to a visa or permanent residency.


Caitlin Cassidy

The GuardianTramp

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