Antony Lawes April 14, 2012
Selling short ... 2 Nulla Nulla Street sold for $2.7 million in March, but in 2001 the Turramurra property traded at $3,275,000.
IN 1989 house prices on the upper north shore were among the highest in Sydney, outstripping most of the lower north, inner west and parts of the east.
Median prices in Killara were higher than in Mosman - now the 10th most expensive suburb in Australia - and streets ahead of other waterfront suburbs such as McMahons Point and Manly.
Two decades later this haven of rambling gardens and stately homes has been left behind. Australian Property Monitors figures show that in the past decade the upper north shore, which extends up the train line from Roseville, has had the lowest median growth of any Sydney region apart from the northern beaches.
A post-Federation house with five bedrooms, a pool and tennis court at 2 Nulla Nulla Street, Turramurra, on a 2250-square-metre block, is typical. It sold for $2.7 million last month, $575,000 less than it sold for 11 years ago.
Yet David Bokor from LJ Hooker Wahroonga said that was a good result - ''exceptional'' - for a property near recently built medium-density units. In the current market price drops of $500,000 or more were not uncommon.
Some experts believe there is more to it than the cyclical nature of the housing market or the economic woes that have depressed prices in other wealthy suburbs.
The director of the buyers agency PK Property, Peter Kelaher, said families did not have time to maintain big gardens and travel so far to the city. They preferred smaller blocks on the lower north shore and northern beaches, which also offered a more vibrant lifestyle. ''People don't want the big sprawling block any more, it's just too stressful when they get home. Socially there's also not a lot up there for them.''
But now families wanting more space are recognising that upper north shore suburbs offer relatively good value. In the past 12 months the region outperformed the eastern suburbs, lower north shore and the northern beaches, APM figures show.
One local agent, mcconnell bourn, had its busiest March for 11 years, while LJ Hooker Wahroonga reported a 75 per cent auction clearance rate last month. But Mr Bokor said prices were still soft for houses over $3 million.