By John McGrath

The development of Parramatta is on serious turbocharge right now, which is why I rated it among my top suburb picks in last year’s Annual McGrath Report. There are two key reasons for this:

Commercial and infrastructure activities in and around Parramatta are leaving much of Sydney in their wake with many smart companies choosing to relocate closer to their employees 

The activation of the river which has for many years been a forgotten waterway

I consider Parramatta among Sydney’s next major hot spots for property price rises.  When we talk about property hot spots, most people think of small, unknown, undeveloped pockets of a city; or perhaps areas on the outskirts set to benefit from something new, like a road upgrade or new train line. We don’t often think about major established centres but Parramatta is different. While it’s been Sydney’s second CBD for a long time, it’s now becoming Sydney’s new heart. 

About $8 billion in construction projects are on the way along with further billions in new public infrastructure both in and around Parramatta CBD.  We’re talking new commercial centres, luxury residential apartments, recreational spaces, educational facilities, modernised streetscapes and major new transport.

The population is changing in both size and character. It’s going from blue collar to white collar with more tertiary-educated locals working in higher paid jobs. 

All of this will have a major and direct impact on property prices over the next 5-10 years. 

A quick look on Domain shows the median price for a three bedroom house in Parramatta right now is $788,000. A two bedroom apartment is $586,000. Compare this to an inner city suburb close to Sydney’s CBD like Surry Hills, where a three bedroom house is $1.616M and a two bedroom apartment is $950,000. Value, value, value! 

Think about some other historically working class suburbs of Sydney such as Balmain and Rozelle. Once very blue collar areas full of modest workers’ cottages, they are now among Sydney’s most desirable areas with million dollar median prices.  Wish you’d bought there pre-millennium before they boomed?  In 15 years time, you’ll be saying the same thing about Parramatta.  

The most exciting development underway is the $2 billion Parramatta Square project. It’s a three hectare site in the middle of the CBD that will comprise several new commercial and civic buildings, apartments, retailers, eateries and recreational facilities. It will be home to a new University of Western Sydney Campus (completion due early 2017) as well as the Aspire residential tower, which will be the tallest residential building in NSW (completion due late 2019). 

In terms of public transport, Parramatta is being touted as Sydney’s ‘new Central’ with major projects to benefit the area including plans for a light rail network; the WestConnex road project; the North-West Rail Link project; and a new airport at Badgerys Creek. 

Australian and foreign developers are also recognising the enormous scope Parramatta has for new residential and commercial buildings – certainly far greater than the CBD. 

The NSW Government wants more new jobs closer to people’s homes. It is estimated that by 2050, the majority of Sydneysiders will live west of Parramatta. Big business wants access to this growing customer base and Parramatta is the natural choice to set up shop. 

About 30% of Australia's Top 500 companies already have offices in the CBD. A large number new jobs are being created every year and they’re not low wage jobs either, most are highly-skilled and knowledge-based roles demanding a high level of education. 

Already, the dominant industries are finance, insurance, accounting, law, business services, government administration and health sectors. The future vision is that an expanding University of Western Sydney will deliver more knowledge graduates who will choose to stay in the area because high paying work opportunities will be plentiful. 

Another great thing about Parramatta is its cultural diversity with the predominant ethnic groups being Indian and Chinese. The availability of a large and local bilingual workforce will no doubt attract more overseas companies looking for an Australian operational base. 

Parramatta Council’s Economic Development Strategy describes residents as ‘young, increasingly educated, multicultural and highly aspirant’. A growing population of highly-skilled, highly-paid professionals is crucial for gentrification of a suburb, as these are the people who have the capacity to buy and renovate, thereby modernising the housing stock. 

According to RP Data, Parramatta house prices rose by 27.3% in 2015 while Sydney as a whole grew by 11.5%. The rise of Parramatta – and its home values, is well underway!