Craig Merritt had a hellish time with his first property investment, and only a stroke of luck saved him from losing thousands. But he hasn’t lost his faith in his home city – it turns out he was just looking in the wrong places.
“There are still good places to invest in Adelaide, despite all of the doom and gloom reports about local industry and economy. You’ve just got to know where to look, something I almost learnt the hard way.
My first investment was in the northern-western suburb of Mansfield, which had a pretty dodgy reputation, and it was only by a chance meeting with the man who owned the other units in the block that I managed to offload it without being out of pocket.
But not everything in Adelaide’s north is cursed, as some media reports would lead you to believe. Mansfield Park offered little in terms of unique attributes or future-friendly infrastructure, as I soon realised after watching real estate prices in the suburb slip month by month. Using the capital I’d managed to squeeze out of my lucky escape, I turned my search to the north east, specifically Windsor Gardens.
Whereas I’d bought my first property on a whim, I made my second purchase based on months of extensive research and armed with a strategy to target suburbs with future growth indicators.
Windsor Park is really well located in terms of amenities. The River Torrens Linear Park, an open space recreational corridor, runs through the suburb. It is very popular, particularly with cyclists. Parallel to that is the O-Bahn Busway. The O-Bahn, for those who aren't from Adelaide, is a specially-designed track for buses. Appearing much like a set of train tracks, it allows for a quick bus trip into the city by avoiding road congestion. On top of that you’ve got the schools, parks, and a medium-sized shopping centre, which is currently being redeveloped. All of these things are just in walking distance of each other.
The most important thing with Windsor Gardens is that it is an area in transition. It used to have a lot of housing trust homes which, almost by the day, are being knocked down and new subdivisions and townhouses are popping up. It’s quite unusual in that you can have an older-style wood-built home next to a sparkling townhouse. At the moment I would say it’s about 50 per cent older homes, 50 per cent newer homes, but in the next decade it will be seen as a newer housing suburb.
The property itself, while in decent condition, has the potential for further capital gains by way of a kitchen and bathroom renovation.
Summerton Park has got a prestigious ring to it in Adelaide, so I felt that an entry-level property in this location would always attract tenant demand. It’s 15 minutes from the city with direct access along the Anzac Highway, it’s got trams that go straight through as well. But what really appeals to me is it’s only five minutes walking distance from Adelaide’s most popular beach, Glenelg.
Glenelg has restaurants and a thriving nightlife – things that are very attractive to singles and young couples. It’s also a five minute drive away from the biggest suburban shopping centre in Adelaide – Marion Shopping Centre.
Mansfield Park had little in the way of transport and infrastructure, and a bad reputation to boot. Of course it began to suffer when the fortunes of the broader South Australian economy did too.
But by looking for suburbs which have broad appeal, I’m confident that I can still get a good deal out of my home city. Adelaide’s economy may be suffering at the moment, and it may continue to do so into the future. That’s all the more reason to choose investment properties and suburbs which can stand out when times are tough.”