Melbourne’s top inner and middle suburbs for first home buyers
First-home buyers are on the comeback.
After battling soaring property prices for years, the cooler market has opened a window of opportunity for first timers.
Stable — and in some cases falling — prices, along with recent interest rate cuts, an easing of lending restrictions and government incentives are encouraging more to get a foot on the property ladder.
But with a shortage of homes on the market, property experts predict strong demand will soon push prices north again.
Our hot inner and middle Melbourne suburbs for first-home buyers might not already be on your radar — but perhaps they should be.
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They are among Melbourne’s more affordable suburbs that are in hottest demand on leading property listings website realestate.com.au.
We also looked at the popular suburbs for first-time buyers claiming stamp duty exemptions on purchases up to $600,000 and concessions on homes between $601,000-$750,000.
See our top choices for inner and middle Melbourne below, and keep an eye out for our best picks for outer Melbourne and regional Victoria tomorrow.
With houses receiving an average 7109 clicks for each listing on realestate.com.au, there’s no doubt this northeast suburb is having a moment. Its $721,250 median house price also means first-home buyers are eligible for stamp duty savings.
It is well connected, with a train station on the Hurstbridge line, easy access to the Metropolitan Ring Rd and buses linking it to nearby amenities, including Greensborough Plaza shopping centre.
Its local commercial strip stretches along Watsonia Rd and includes a supermarket, shops and eateries.
Watsonia has a strong family feel, with couples with kids the dominant demographic,
There are two primary schools in the area, along with a Catholic secondary school, with plenty of other educational options nearby, including La Trobe and RMIT universities.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 16km Population 5214
Median house price $721,250 Median unit price $465,000
Leigh Pridham, Ray White, Diamond Creek
While well out of first-home buyer territory when it comes to houses, this hip ‘hood is also a hot destination for apartments.
And with a median unit price of $527,000, first-home buyers could be exempt from stamp duty and, if buying a new apartment, could also pocket the $10,000 First Home Owner Grant.
Multicultural Brunswick is brimming with cafe culture. Main thoroughfare Sydney Rd bustles with Middle Eastern bakeries, hip cafes with vinyl spinning on the turntable, and artisan giftware and Italian bridal shops.
Trams lumber up the street while locals zip around on bikes. No wonder there are 7769 views per house and 1173 views per unit listed on realestate.com.au.
Charming Victorian homes are being joined by a growing number of new apartment developments.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 5km Population 24,473
Median house price $1,001,250 Median unit price $527,000
Adrian Petrucelli, Jellis Craig, Brunswick
There’s a come one, come all charm to Northcote. You’ll find younger people sharing houses, singles settling into new apartments, young families stretching out in pretty Edwardians and everything in between.
While the median house price is beyond the budget of most first-time buyers, the unit price makes Northcote an attractive first-home buyer prospect. Again, a stamp duty exemption would be available on a median priced unit or apartment, plus a First Home Owner Grant for new builds.
Bikes are very popular, but public transport is also excellent, with trams, buses and five train stations on two lines.
Life revolves around High St and its fabulous and varied cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, boutiques and venues. There’s a strong sense of community, with neighbourhood festivals and arts events.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 5km Population 24,561
Median house price $1,278,000 Median unit price $545,000
Tom Alexiadis, Nelson Alexander, Northcote
4. GLADSTONE PARK
This little northwestern gem is one of realestate.com.au’s most in-demand affordable suburbs, with 5093 views per property listing.
It is a family friendly locale, with households predominantly made up of older couples and families. As empty nesters downsize, there’s a good opportunity for first-home buyers to snare a family home. While the median priced house would qualify for a stamp duty discount — rather than an exemption — there are options under the median mark that would attract the full suite of first-home buyer help.
Trains are nearby at Broadmeadows and Jacana stations. There are also bus services and Melbourne Airport is about 4km away via the Tullamarine Freeway on the suburb’s western boundary. There’s also easy access to the Western Ring Rd on the southern edge of the suburb.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 15km Population 8338
Median house price $620,000 Median unit price N/A
Nick Pugliese, Barry Plant, Gladstone Park
5. BRUNSWICK EAST
Offering all the lifestyle perks of Brunswick with a more affordable house price, Brunswick East is also hot property with homebuyers.
First-timers will find a median unit price similar to that of Brunswick’s, and likewise plenty of new apartment developments with offerings allowing them to claim the full stamp duty saving plus the First Home Owner Grant for new builds.
There are plenty of buyers eyeing off this inner northern pocket, with 6080 views per house listing and 741 views per unit listing on realestate.com.au.
It is nestled between cosmopolitan Lygon St and Merri Creek, with its parkland and cycling and walking trails.
While the nearest train stations are in Brunswick proper, the numbers 1, 8 and 96 trams traverse Brunswick East up Lygon and Nicholson streets, providing an easy trip to the CBD.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 5km Population 11,504
Median house price $950,000 Median unit price $529,500
Adrian Petrucelli, Jellis Craig, Brunswick
Flash new apartment developments are arriving on the scene in Northcote, giving first-home buyers a foot into the market.
They are joining big, period houses and more modest homes built a bit later.
The housing choices reflect the happy demographic mix that calls this large northern suburb home. Older residents, families and singles all enjoy the suburb’s space, community atmosphere and proximity to the CBD.
With hip Thornbury and Northcote to its south, Preston has found its own subtle groove with lively multicultural cafes, delis, markets, arts festivals and shopping strips.
There’s a good choice of schools and public transport in the form of Bell and Preston train stations on the Mernda line, trams along Plenty Rd and bus services.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 9km Population 32,851
Median house price $900,000 Median unit price $460,500
Colin Abbas, Nelson Alexander, Preston
Young singles are gravitating to the charms of well-established Coburg, joining longer term residents and families.
Coburg’s old-school charm can be found in its period homes, from California bungalows to renovated Victorians, but new townhouses and apartments are bringing a new vibe.
With a median unit price of $535,000, Coburg is a top prospect for first-time buyers looking for an understated inner-city vibe within 10km of the CBD and under the stamp duty exemption threshold.
The multicultural northern suburb retains a more casual and earthy feel than its uber cool next-door neighbour Brunswick.
It’s on the Upfield train line and the number 19 tram rattles up and down Sydney Rd. Or jump on your bike and peddle to the city via the Merri Creek Trail.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 8km Population 26,185
Median house price $932,500 Median unit price $535,000
Adrian Petrucelli, Jellis Craig, Brunswick
8. WEST FOOTSCRAY
With young and not so young singles the main resident groups in West Footscray, there are plenty of units, apartments and townhouses catering to smaller households.
Classic blocks built in the 1960s and ’70s are being joined by flash contemporary developments as buyers set their sights on the once overlooked inner west.
Period houses are also in the mix, with many being restored to their former glory and others still waiting for a makeover.
Footscray West is considered a little quieter than neighbouring Footscray with its vibrant array of Vietnamese restaurants, Asian grocers, markets and pockets of African restaurants and bakeries.
Two train stations — West Footscray and Tottenham on the Sunbury line — make the short commute the city a breeze.
Distance from CBD/Melbourne 8km Population 11,450
Median house price $802,500 Median apartment price $440,000
Stephen Simmonds, Hocking Stuart, Yarraville
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