Opportunistic property investors are set to put the squeeze on residents already battling disadvantage and poor health in two of Melbourne’s newest real estate “hotspots”.
Developers and investors are homing in and pushing up prices in the emerging markets of Frankston and Broadmeadows, which were this week named the city’s worst postcodes for health inequality.
Experts say rising property prices and rents will compound existing health problems for residents who have long called these affordable suburbs home.
A Grattan Institute report released this week found Frankston and Broadmeadows have “appalling” preventable hospitalisation rates for conditions such as diabetes, tooth decay and asthma. Such conditions should be manageable within the community without a hospital visit, but are often exacerbated by financial problems, lack of social support or access to healthcare.
Yet the picture of health disadvantage painted by the study is in stark contrast to the the suburbs’ recent property fortunes.
Unit prices in Broadmeadows and Frankston grew at 21.5 per cent and 6.6 per cent respectively in the year to June, well above Greater Melbourne’s average annual growth of 2.7 per cent. House prices grew in pace with the city at about 5 to 7 per cent to reach medians in excess of $400,000, according to Domain data.
And when housing becomes unaffordable, it can be further detrimental to someone’s health and wellbeing, says Associate Professor Rebecca Bentley at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.
Ms Bentley said rising prices could potentially push residents further away from the services they need.
“Over time, disadvantaged people will be displaced, while middle class people will move in,” she said. “The question is: where are people going? Considering how far away Frankston may be from employment hubs, they may move even further out of Melbourne.”
Ms Bentley’s research shows the disadvantaged tend to move more frequently and to places with fewer resources, including medical care, than the areas they’ve come from.
Compounding the problem, community workers say preventable conditions – such as those mentioned in the report – are often ignored in the face of housing stress.
“If you are at immediate risk of losing your home, it becomes a question of priorities,” said Steve Phillips, manager of Community Support Frankston. “Heath can often be put to one side because it’s not on the hierarchy of needs.”
His organisation, a not-for-profit community agency that supports locals with advocacy and emergency material aid, is witnessing a rise in housing stress in Frankston.
“For someone on Newstart allowance, it’s very difficult to afford the average rent,” he said.
Median rents have shot up in Frankston by $15 a week in just a year, while Broadmeadows rents have skyrocketed by $130 a week in the past decade, according to the latest state government Rental Report.
But at the same time, both suburbs have witnessed a significant rise in the number of rentals available, largely due a rise in investor popularity.
Agents say both suburbs are predominantly targeted by inventors and developers attracted to their comparatively affordable prices.
The market in Broadmeadows has changed significantly in recent years, according to David Taylor of YPA Estate Agents Glenroy. He said sellers now auction their properties rather than sell privately, due to high competition, especially for large blocks.
“Investors are coming from the other side of the city and even from Sydney because of the affordability,” he said.
He recently sold two neighbouring houses to a Sydney developer at auction for $870,000, which had approval for six dwellings.
Adrian Foster, director of hocking Stuart Frankston, said about 65 per cent of buyers were investors who pushed up prices because they were still relatively affordable. He sold a three-bedroom house marketed at $320,000 for $411,000 last weekend to an investor from Melbourne.
“They say Frankston is becoming too rental-orientated, but everything we put on rental list goes straight out the door,” Mr Foster said.
News from domain.com.au Kirsten Robb