In search of land

Big block housing stockThe so called ‘Great Australian Dream’ was once typified as a detached house on a quarter acre block of land (about 1,000sqm), however recent trends have shown the quarter acre block is becoming an increasingly rare commodity. Based on recent sales within 20km of each capital city about 91% of home sales were positioned on a block of land less than 1,000sqm in area.

In the larger cities the proportion is much higher, with 94% of home sales within 20km of the Melbourne CBD being on a block of land less than 1,000sqm, 93% in Brisbane and 92% in Sydney.

Hobart has recorded the largest proportion of home sales with larger land areas. Almost 15% of all recent home sales within 20km of the Hobart CBD were on blocks of land at least 1,000sqm in area.


Across every capital city (apart from Canberra and Darwin which are much tighter in geographic spread) the average block size rises the further you move from the city centre. Moving beyond the 20km mark from the CBD, zoning rules often specify lower densities and larger minimum subdivision rules. Also, land supply tends to be more plentiful further from the city making larger blocks more practical.

The suburbs with the smallest land areas are almost exclusively located in Sydney’s inner city. Suburbs synonymous with terrace housing such as Chippendale, Surry Hills and Darlington often have homes on around 100sqm of land. These character homes are often highly sought after thanks to their historic character and inner city location.


Diminishing land areas can be attributed to the scarce availability of land within the capital city metro areas. Additionally, in an attempt to provide more affordable housing supply and greater development yields, new greenfield development sites are more often than not based on small lot land areas. Another factor contributing to smaller land sizes are evolving lifestyle preferences where more households prefer the lower level of maintenance involved with a smaller block of land.

As a result it is highly likely that average land areas will continue to fall across the metro areas of Australia.

With fewer homes available on large blocks of land, particularly within 20km of the capital cities, it makes sense that the scarcity value of these homes should result in above average capital gains. For those buyers potentially looking for a home on a large block of land within a reasonable distance from the city, there are 86 suburbs within 20km of Australia’s capital cities where the average land area is at least 1,000sqm.


A large number of these suburbs could be described as ‘blue chip’ locations due to their proximity to the city, historic housing and large housing blocks. Of course, blue chip suburbs tend to have a high entry price that is prohibitive for most of the population to buy there.

There are some exceptions, however. The table to the right shows the two most affordable suburbs in each capital that are within 20km of the CBD and where block sizes are on average larger than 1,000sqm. The most affordable of these suburbs are mostly located in Hobart and Adelaide, however all capital cities apart from Sydney provide at least one suburb where the median buy in price is less than $500,000 for a house.



Tim Lawless is the Director of Property Research at RP Data.


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