How to: Assess a street within a suburb

How to: Assess a street within a suburb
How to: Assess a street within a suburb

As property investors, we hear a lot about choosing a suburb and how to look for a hotspot. What we hear less about, however, is assessing a street within the neighbourhood you've chosen. It's likely you know a lot about where you currently live, so quickly have a think about the roads and areas that you don't look kindly upon - perhaps there are certain streets that are hard to turn out of, roads where parking is so difficult it becomes a burden, or perhaps an avenue that always has loud house parties.

Whatever it is, this intimate knowledge of your own area puts you in a better position to tell someone else about it. However, it also reveals how little you may know about an area you're considering for investment.

First thing's first: Check it out online

You're not always going to get success on the computer, however Googling everything is a necessity in today's lightning-fast internet world. Sometimes you might just see a comment from someone complaining about a neighbour, other times you may suddenly realise that far more of the homes on that street are up for sale or for rent that you'd anticipated, and at the very least you can have a quick look at the street on a map.

Note its location to amenities, and how far it is to walk to the nearest public transport, shopping centre and similar important features of an area. This is especially crucial if your reasoning around choosing an area is due to its connections to specific features and employment nodes. Make sure you aren't looking at a street with poor access to the suburb's best qualities.

It is also worth having a look at Google StreetView. If the images haven't been updated recently, you may also find some points worth noting such as upgraded exteriors of homes, shops changing or similar.

Visit the street

Head to the street the property is on and keep your eyes on the journey on your way there. Keep a window down if you are driving and listen to the noise levels from the road, particularly if you've identified that you might be near a main road or one of the larger roads in the suburb.

You'll want to visit the street at multiples times of the week, both day and night, if possible - consider picking strategically. Perhaps the end of school day, for family suburbs, commuting hours and Friday nights to see if there is much of a rabble.

Walk down the street and those surrounding and see how it compares to what you know from the rest of the suburb. Don't forget to use your senses - you should be listening out as much as possible and keeping your eyes peeled for mess, graffiti and disruption. You might also see a development application permit or similar that can alert your attention to an upcoming development.

Note down the different types of housing stock along the road and don't forget to compare the property you are interest in with others on the street. These are, in equal parts, your competition and also the homes that can help give yours a value boost as necessary. While some will always go for the "worst house, best street" equation, it's hard to know either of these factors without actively having a look.

You also want to see signs of well-maintained properties. One of the unchangeable factors of property is often the neighbours. If there are piles of debris in a nearby neighbours' yard, you may want to beware. Doubly so if this is common.

Call the council

Ring up the local council and ask about the road and any new developments or changes within five kilometres. You might find that the noise of the road is set to stop with a bypass being put in, or something similar. You can also find out whether the street is in a flood or other natural disaster zone.

Other experts that may be able to provide you more information about the street you're considering:

Property managers - They can tell you where the more sought-after rentals are located, as well as warn you away from 'problem' areas. Here's how to choose the best property manager.

Real estate agents - Ask agents who aren't directly involved in this purchase which side of the suburb is more desirable and which streets achieve higher prices and lower prices. Don't forget to ask for their reasoning, and some examples, where possible. Here's how to choose the best real estate agent.

Building and pest inspectors - Friendly building experts can let you know the streets prone to termite damage and other issues, or where there may be concerns around the specific building types. Don't underestimate their knowledge. Here's how to find the best building and pest inspector.

Five steps for choosing the right suburb
Our 'Suburb Spotlights' and location-specific details

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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