The phrase “just a stroll to” is about as cliched as real-estate-speak gets. But, as Melbourne grows (recent motor vehicle census data shows there are more than 500,000 extra vehicles on Victorian roads than in 2011), are more buyers placing a premium on their ability to walk to the places they love?
Stephens has been selling real estate in inner-city suburbs such as Fitzroy and Carlton since 1988. He says “walkability” is taken as a given for people interested in the area, which has undergone significant demographic change in recent years.
“We traditionally have an old academic base to the area; you get a lot of lawyers, a lot of medicos and a lot of people who have been here for a long time.”
Interestingly, he adds, many of those older families’ children, now in their 30s, haven’t even bothered to sit a driver’s licence test.
Secret Agent founder and buyers’ advocate Paul Osborne says most of his clients seeking to downsize and move to pedestrian-friendly addresses are cashed-up empty nesters, who have typically sold a large family home for $4 million and pocketed half for retirement. He agrees that, for these clients, the motivation for moving somewhere you don’t have to rely on a car for is less allure, more expectation.
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However, he says, many will still want a car space as an “insurance policy”, believing it will make the property more attractive to other buyers when it’s time to move on. “And you may still have a car so you can do a country trip on the weekend,” he adds.
But what about away from the affluent inner-city ring?
“They want to be near everything, but they don’t want to be next door, where you get some of the negative impacts of noise and smells, if it’s restaurants, [for example].” Ideally, he thinks, that sweet spot is about 200-300 metres from the shops or services you want to access. It correlates with what we’ve heard about some buyers targeting property near specific public transport lines, such as the 96 tram on Nicholson Street in Carlton and Carlton North, which has a dedicated, traffic-free lane all the way to the city from Brunswick Road.
Meanwhile, some councils are being more proactive. On the outskirts of Melbourne’s south-east, the Shire of Cardinia recently amended its planning scheme to force new developments to incorporate designs that naturally support healthy lifestyles. Think well-planned networks for walking and cycling, local destinations within walking distance of homes and plenty of nearby parks.
Naomi Gilbert, an urban planner with the Heart Foundation, applauds the idea. “You want to be able to walk and cycle and access public transport and not be stuck in the car.
“Your built environment will really dictate whether you’re able to move around, so whether you’re able to have a footpath and you can walk, or a cycling route, or you’ve got a bus stop or a train stop – that’s really important.”
Photo: SDP Media
$1.9 million-$2.09 million
3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 2 car spaces
The best of Brighton’s shopping and the beach beckon from this beautifully preserved Victorian in a dress circle spot.
The home has had a swish makeover inside, and makes an elegant statement from the street. The tessellated tiled verandah speaks to the grand past of this prime bayside ‘burb – a favourite among the sporting and business elite.
The traditional layout of bedrooms at the front of the property, off an ornate corridor flourished with cornices and sconces, gives the sleeping quarters high ceilings and the romantic touch of open fireplaces. Also off the hall is a dining room, which has been presented as a relaxed sitting room or teen’s retreat. Beyond, the sleek kitchen, meals and living area opens to an easy-care courtyard with a servery.