The price is right in affordable Seaford

As inner suburbs become unaffordable for young buyers “the ripple effect” means they look to suburbs further out, such as Seaford. Mitchell Gardner reports.

The south-eastern suburb of Seaford is becoming increasingly appealing for couples under 30 years old, recent studies have shown.

Sales agent Sherrie Lee, of Asset Property Sales and Management in Chelsea, attributes this to the suburb’s “good infrastructure” and the “walking distance to the water”.

She says: “They can still hop on the trains, and be in the city for work within 45 minutes. The freeways also mean that if you want to travel by car, you’re not just stuck with the one route. You have four major freeways to choose from.”

Lee says the price of houses is also a leading factor.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) calls this “the ripple effect”, a citywide trend which has young buyers seeking homes further from the CBD, as inner-city suburbs become too expensive for them. Prices then begin to rise in those neighbouring suburbs.

REIV data shows houses in Seaford sold for a median price of $452,000 in the June quarter, the most expensive selling for about $532,000. By comparison, Hawthorn had an average property value of more than $1.9 million in the same quarter.

“It really is no surprise that younger couples are moving away when you look at the statistics,” Lee says. “Inner-city suburbs are just becoming too unaffordable.”

But it is not only lower house prices making Seaford attractive – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows more young people moving into the area, with long-time resident Karin Breisch observing a constant turnover in the rental market.

Between 2009 and 2013, the number of people aged between 25 and 34 years old living in Seaford increased by 1.2 per cent, ABS data shows.

“It’s the lifestyle of the suburbs, there’s a real village feel, while still being close to the city.” Lee says.

Daniel and Steph*, a young couple who recently moved from Carlton North to Seaford, agreed it was that lifestyle which attracted them.

“We wanted to start a family, a proper house, not just an apartment,” Daniel said, “We liked the lifestyle Seaford would provide for our children.”

They also see Seaford and the surrounding suburbs as very family-orientated. “We have a Mother’s Club, and there are five little bubs in our street alone,” Steph says.

She says they have met couples nearby who have “recently moved here for the same reasons”.

The City of Frankston, which includes Seaford, has the fifth-highest crime rate in Victoria, according to the ABS. But the young couple say that the demographic of Frankston has completely changed and that the area is not as unsafe as portrayed.

“We haven’t experienced any of the negative things people seem to think happen,” Daniel says, “All of our neighbours and nearby friends are great.”

But the suburb is not purely young couples. Karin Breisch, a 75-year-old grandmother, has lived in her three-bedroom house in Seaford since 1979, having raised her four children there.

She has seen “many young people move in and out of the street, particularly recently. They seem to move into a place, live there for less than a year and then rent it out.”

However, the dream of owning a house is still just that for many young couples, who say they struggle to find work and afford the costs of living.

Shae Calder and her partner Ryan Ould live in the back of a unit in Chelsea, having had to relocate six times in the past year.

“It’s been absolutely shocking,” Calder says. “Being young with no rental history, no real estate agent would look at our applications so we’re stuck privately renting for a year.”

She says: ”We have a ten month old baby, and he is absolutely gorgeous, but I can’t work as much, restricting our budget even more.”

However, they are optimistic for the future: “As our boy gets older, I should be able to work more and save more money,” Calder says. “Hopefully we’ll be able to find a suitable house soon.”

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons