I was chatting on Friday to a colleague who has just bought a house with her husband. They ended up in an area they are familiar with and like, and as a bonus, she said, it’s in zone 1.
I was the same when I bought my house back in 2005 — it wasn’t necessarily the highest priority, but I wanted zone 1.
Anybody familiar with Melbourne’s public transport fares will know why. For trips into the CBD and inner-Melbourne, a zone 1+2 fare is about 70% more expensive than just a zone 1 fare. (One way/2 hours is currently $3.58 for zone 1, $6.06 for zone 1+2.)
From January 2015, fares within Melbourne will be capped at one zone. The government announced it in March, and the Opposition said they would implement it as well.
As I wrote at the time, this isn’t necessarily the best policy, and is likely to have some side effects, pushing up fares in the longer term. But the immediate effect is a not unwelcome price cut for two zone trips.
So anybody still house-hunting might as well not bother prioritising zone 1 as it won’t matter soon — though of course they may want to be closer to the city centre for other reasons, for instance travel time or liking a particular suburb.
(Update: Marcus Wong wisely points out that travel time can be dependent on express trains, particularly during peak hour. Thus, places like Cheltenham, further out but served by expresses, may become more desirable than Highett, bypassed by them. Mind you, we’re talking about just a few minutes difference, which might be countered by the CBD stations served — Frankston line expresses don’t go around the Loop.)
In fact, right now you may get a price advantage by buying just outside zone 1. It’s unclear if the real estate industry have cottoned onto this yet… even if individual agents are aware of it, they may be emphasising zone 1 to encourage buyers/renters into specific properties, and certainly buyers may not know. A quick look around shows Zone 1 does feature in plenty of current listings.
- …within minutes to Oakleigh central shopping and culinary precinct, zone 1 station, buses and Monash Freeway for easy commuting
- You wont need a car as these units are located within walking distance to the shops and Reservoir train station (Zone 1).
- …the added benefit of being merely a casual stroll down to the Pier Street cafe precinct and a short walk to citybound rail access from zone 1 Seaholme station.
- …so well-located, moments from shops, schools & zone 1 station.
Over time, no doubt agents and buyers/renters alike will figure it out — it may take the heat out properties in the current zone 1, and instead spread demand more evenly along Melbourne’s rail lines — though near to stations and tram lines will remain at a premium while most connecting bus services are so poor.