Oct 23, 2022 | Northern Beaches Property

The rise and rise of family-friendly Forestville

Nestled on the western edge of the Northern Beaches near to the Roseville Bridge is the leafy suburb of Forestville. Ideally located only 10 minutes from the beach yet with better access to the city than many other Northern Beaches suburbs, Forestville has fast gained popularity with families in recent years.

New interest in the area helped push prices to dizzying heights in late 2021 but have since settled into a more predictable rhythm in the back half of 2022.

To find out more about Forestville, Nook Money’s Cat Denney sat down with her co-host from the 26 and Sunny podcast, Nick Freeman, to chat with leading real estate agent Sam Kearney from Raine & Horne Forestville / Frenchs Forest.

Sam, you were born and bred in Forestville and are now selling property in the area. Tell us, how has Forestville changed over the years?

It’s changed a huge amount, especially over the last five years or so. We’re seeing a major trend of older people who’ve lived here for decades now going into smaller properties and moving closer to the beach, as well as retirement areas out of Sydney. We’re also seeing many new families coming in the area.

There’s been a lot of development in the area that has helped drive the change including the new Northern Beaches Hospital in Frenchs Forest. There’s also been new road infrastructure, the Forestville shops have improved a lot, and there’s the future town center being planned.

With the change in property owners in the area, including young families coming in, have you seen a change in the style of properties that buyers prefer?

Absolutely. We’ve seen a massive shift in the last few years away from the little red-brickers towards much larger project homes, custom builds, and architect design homes.

Little red-brickers are being knocked down and replaced with much bigger homes. We’re talking places with five bedrooms, double garage, three living areas, swimming pool, big outdoor entertaining area.

At the same time, we’re seeing a pick-up in bespoke builds. In both instances, it tends to be large family homes that people are hungry for, especially as there aren’t many of them in the area.

There’s also interest in older style family homes, whether it’s a 1960s red-bricker that’s been renovated internally, or with a small extension on it. These types of properties are popular with families upsizing from other areas who want extra space but don’t have budget for something totally brand new.

With the shortage of tradies at the moment, have you seen a shift away from people wanting to renovate or rebuild?

We certainly have. With prices from tradies on the rise, we’ve seen more people interested in larger, newer homes rather than ones that might need a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, those properties are still selling, but they are certainly tougher to sell compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did prices fair in Forestville during the boom of 2021?

We saw huge price growth in Forestville, especially at the top end of the market. A while back, we saw our first $3 million sale in Forestville. We saw the Clarendon display home on Warringah Road sell for $3,050,000. More recently we’ve seen $4 million sales in Forestville including a $4.2 million sale, $4.3 million sale and an offer on a custom design home at $4.5 million (which would be a new suburb record).

Fast forward, and after a few rate rises, are prices coming off now?

Yes, they are. Now for a property to sell for more than $3 million it needs to have that ‘wow’ factor, whether that’s being fully renovated, having a beautiful view, or being in a unique position. The trend is towards properties selling in the mid and high twos, which is much more common given the shifting market.

There are some big changes happening in the area with the town centre and the school, what do you think the impact will be on the community and properties around the area?

The changes are a big draw card for families coming into the area. We’ve got the new hospital, and we’re going to see more mixed-use property development happening which we don’t have right now. I’m talking apartments, townhouses, villas, duplexes. They’re all incredibly hard to find at present

I think it’ll be great for the area once it’s all done. It’ll definitely help put Frenchs Forest on the map for a lot of people.

You said a lot of families are buying into the area. Are they typically coming from other parts of the beaches or are you seeing an influx of people from other areas of Sydney?

It’s a mix. The beaches is a big part of it and a lot of our families are upsizing from places like Fairlight, Freshwater, Manly and Dee Why. For most of them it’s a value proposition.

We’re also getting a lot of buyers from the lower North Shore, areas like Willoughby. They realize they’re very close to the beach but also with transport links to the east and inner west that are on the improve. It’s that next stage for them as the family grows and they want a lifestyle change.

What’s your prediction for spring and summer 22/23? There’s a lot of people trying to pick the bottom of the market Have you got any tips for buyers? What about sellers?

For sellers, my tip would be to go sooner rather than later with interest rates going the way they are. Spring’s always a great time to sell with buyers keen to lock something in before the end of the year.

For buyers, picking the bottom is really difficult. I’d say if you can get close enough to it – and if you see something you love – just go for it. For me, the risk of waiting too long and the market starting to rise again is bigger than getting into something now before another, say, five per cent correction.

So, I think if you’re a buyer, get out and about now, there are some good opportunities compared to last year and the value side of things is really starting to come into play.

Take Forestville. You couldn’t really find anything for under $2 million before. But now we’re seeing some sales in that $1.8 million or $1.9 million price point. For buyers, that’s s a very good opportunity.

Want to hear direct from Sam? Listen to his chat with Nick and Cat here.

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