What you can learn by walking through a suburb: Investor research

While not all investors will have the opportunity to head to their suburb of choice, those that do will find themselves easily able to take advantage of the opportunity and ramp up their knowledge of the area.

Head to the suburb armed with basic information - whereabouts within the suburb you're considering purchasing, the type of stock you're looking for (house, unit, fibro, etc) and your budget. Any statistical research possible should have been undertaken before this stage (the steps below are a helpful way to get this started).




Read Property Observer's guide to using the ABS Census Data.


Get out of the car


First things first - either walk the streets or put your car window down, and listen. If there's a main road, find out which streets are affected by the sound and where it becomes acceptable.

Listen out for planes that may alert you to a flight path you hadn't thought about, or for busy school or social hubs that may affect your property's value.

Consider transport - it may be worth jumping onto a bus or train to find out about transport links, or walking to the nearest station if possible.

Good streets, bad streets

Some streets are going to be more popular than others, and often this is reflected in the price or the speed by which the homes sell. However, it can also be physically apparent. Look for streets with good views and outlooks, that are walkable distances from amenities and that are kept in visibly good condition.

EPS Property Search's Patrick Bright also looks for dampness, and which sides of the street have more sunlight - it's not always the higher side that's the most desirable.

The locals

While you're on the ground, head into some local businesses for a friendly chat. Find out how business has been, and note that if it's getting busier it may be a good sign for the area. It's also worth asking specific people if they're aware of any new developments, or of any notorious streets or areas. Hairdressers are often cited as the go-to experts for these situations.

It's also a good idea to try and have a quick chat with residents. If you're looking at a specific property, it might just be time for a friendly door knock to the neighbours next door and opposite the home to ask their thoughts. Ask them about the difficulties of where they live, such as transport or parking woes, and factor this into your research.

Information to pick up

The local paper can be an excellent source of hyper-local information. It may include recent police activity that can quickly alert you to problems in the area, or of new council decisions that affect you.

Head into your local council and check for notices, and ask about upcoming developments where possible.

Keep your eyes peeled

Look for graffiti and other damage, and ensure you note where it occurs. You will also want to look out for where people are visibly renovating or have updated their homes. Extensions, subdivisions and granny flats can also quickly flag to you the possibilities with a property that you purchase.

Also look around for 'For Sale' signs. This can be an indication of movement in the market, however too many properties up for sale, especially clustered in one area, might be suggestive of something else going on.

Open homes and real estate agents

It's worth attending open homes to get a good understanding of the quality of property and the asking prices. This should help you get your head around comparables later when you're more prepared to buy, or it will allow you to make sure you're not going to overpay on a property you're currently considering.

You can read our recent How To: Assess a Property At An Open Home here.

What do you do to research when you're in an area? Email jduke@propertyobserver.com.au or leave a comment below

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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