Experts tip the Victorian suburbs to watch this year

Location is arguably the most important thing to consider when buying a property. The suburb a dream home sits in can not only affect the the price, but also a future lifestyle.

New development, infrastructure upgrades and changing demographics can radically alter a suburb's appeal, to both investors and owner occupiers.

We asked four real estate gurus which suburbs they will have their eyes on this year.

Cheltenham

Located 18 kilometres south east of the city, Cheltenham has recently captured the attention of savvy property investors and developers.

"It comes down to the structure plan the Kingston council have put in Cheltenham over the next five to 10 years," Stellar's Nicholas Smedley said.

"They're really wanting to revamp that entire shopping strip."

WBP Property Group chief executive Greville Pabst said it was undergoing a transformation of sorts, with main drag Charman Road being revitalised in the past five years.

"There's a lot of really trendy cafes, a lot of new restaurants," Mr Pabst said. "The railway station right there is allowing for more intensive development with more medium to high density development."

Mr Pabst said the new train station at Southland shopping centre, opened last November, was also driving more interest in the suburb.

"That piece of infrastructure will have a very positive effect. It's going to improve the accessibility and drive more traffic to Cheltenham," he said.

Mr Smedley said the suburb had attracted those priced out of the likes of Brighton, East Brighton, Hampton and Bentleigh.

"There is a fair bit of medium density that has come on [to the market] over the past three years, and I see that trend to continue over the next three to five years again."

Thomastown

Thomastown is just 16 kilometres from the CBD.Photo: Ray White

Buyers' advocate agent Frank Valentic from Advantage Property Consulting said first-home buyers priced out of inner-north desirables Preston and Reservoir were starting to look at Thomastown.

"To go a couple of train stations out, you're able to get in at $700,000 rather than the $1 million of Preston," Mr Valentic said.

The median house price in the suburb is $612,250, making it an affordable option for those on a budget.

Mr Valentic said its proximity to the city - about 16 kilometres - is one of the factors setting it apart from other areas with similar medians.

"If you went to the east or south eastern suburbs, you'd have to go 40 kilometres away from the city to get something that affordable," he said.

The suburb had also begun to transform, Mr Valentic said, with cafes and shops popping up on High Street near the all-important train station, which was redeveloped in 2011.

"It's definitely gone through that gentrification with the trendy cafes and restaurants and food trucks," he said.

Other infrastructure including stage two of the Northern Hospital, set to be completed by 2021, and upgrades to the Metropolitan Ring Road to start this year, would also give the suburb a boost.

Craigieburn

7 Eastleigh Street, CraigieburnPhoto: Ray White

Mr Pabst said Craigieburn was one of Melbourne's oldest new suburbs: "The traditional parts of it were established in the '70s and '80s so it has that infrastructure that many of the newer subdivisions don't have."

A public golf course, new aquatic centre and three shopping centres made the suburb desirable, Mr Pabst said, along with the mix of old and new housing that was not found in other outlying suburbs.

Accessibility to the airport and inner-city suburbs was also a plus, he said.

"It's only really a short drive down the Hume Highway and you can experience all of the lifestyle and cafe culture of Sydney Road, Brunswick," he said.

With a median house price of $454,000, Mr Pabst described it as very affordable for young families and first-buyers.

"It's just over half Melbourne's current median price," Mr Pabst said. "It also falls under the $600,000 threshold for first home buyers for stamp-duty concessions."

Armstrong Creek

First-home buyers are coming back into the market in Melbourne and Sydney.Photo: Pat Scala

Investment advisory firm Suburbanite founder Anna Porter said her eyes were on Geelong as "the next best thing for Victoria".

She said though suburbs closer into the coastal city's centre were still affordable for buyers, newer areas further out presented strong opportunities for investors and owner-occupiers.

Armstrong Creek, a suburb about 11 kilometres south of Geelong's CBD, is one of the suburbs Ms Porter pinpointed.

"It's being done in a nice slow land release, the developer and council don't seem to have any priority to oversupply those markets too quickly which is good," Ms Porter said.

Though the median house price is $460,000, she said buyers could get a near-new three-bedroom house for close to $400,000.

Ms Porter recommended buyers look at it as a mid- to long-term investment, because infrastructure was still being built and planned to service the area.

"It's going to be the pocket that's going to have the new schools, the new shops and they're looking at extending the railway line all the way through to accommodate those areas with better transport," Ms Porter said.

With Allison Worrall

This story Experts tip the Victorian suburbs to watch this year first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.