THE battle to be Tasmania’s top suburb has been a two-horse race during the past few years between the bohemian hilltop haven of West Hobart and the gastronomic hotspot of North Hobart.
More affordable than other inner suburbs such as Sandy Bay and Battery Point, these areas attract a range of renters and owner-occupiers of various ages.
Last year, West Hobart was the only Tasmanian entry to make it into real estate investment magazine Your Investment Property’s top 100 suburbs in the country.
It has often topped the hottest sellers’ market list of the website realestate.com.au, but neighbouring North Hobart beat it in the latest quarterly report.
Of the top 10 areas where demand outstrips supply, North Hobart has had a resurgence and taken out the No. 1 spot after falling off the list in March.
West Hobart came in second and South Hobart, Bellerive and Taroona rounded out the top five.
Mt Nelson was the only newcomer to the top 10 this quarter – in eighth position.
North Hobart’s top ranking comes as no surprise to Ray White Central Hobart principal Ant Manton, who says demand in the area has continued to grow during the past three months in particular.
‘‘The competition and demand in West Hobart has driven up the price and buyers are looking to North Hobart, where the property is more competitively priced,’’ Mr Manton said.
‘‘The area is a quieter innercity suburb, within walking distance to the city and is in very close proximity to restaurants and offers interesting cafe strips and older-style terrace houses.’’
Overall, the traditional real estate winter blues have not hit Tasmania as bad as in recent years, Mr Manton says.
‘‘As a result of lower interest rates, we have seen an increase in first home buyers, in particular, in the last month or two,’’ he said. ‘‘They recognise that interest rates are as low as ever and sellers who are listing their property now are seeing the benefits of increased buyer interest.’’
When it comes to who gets top bragging rights, long-time resident George Innes says North Hobart is the best suburb in the state by far.
‘‘It’s the character of the place,’’ he said, having lived in the area for the past 35 years. ‘‘I sit out on the front veranda in the afternoon and everyone who goes past stops and talks to you.’’
With ‘‘the best little pub in Hobart’’ – the Crescent, according to Mr Innes – the suburb is the epitome of convenience.
‘‘I used to live right up the back of Claremont and to get anywhere you had to drive,’’ he said. ‘‘Here I can walk to town in 15 minutes, to Moonah in half an hour but all the shops and restaurants are right here if you don’t want to walk a bit further.’’
Mr Innes says he often gets cards in the letter box from real estate agents and valuers wanting to talk about his 1887-built renovated house in Pitt St to see if he wants to sell or get it revalued.
But he and wife Dianna, who has lived in four houses in North Hobart over the past 46 years, say they will never leave. ‘‘I just love the place,’’ he said.
Not to be outdone, West Hobart resident Paul Turvey says his suburb has good reason to be popular, offering everything a person could need.
‘‘It’s all about the proximity to the city,’’ he said. ‘‘You’re not far from anywhere and we’ve got good services, schools and nice houses. People seem to acknowledge each other even if it’s just with a smile or small wave.’’
Mr Turvey has lived in the area for 40 years and as well as being the co-ordinator of the local Neighbourhood Watch program, he also started the suburb website westhobart.wordpress.com.
The history of the area has been of particular interest to Mr Turvey and he has put the site together during the past four years.
‘‘The place really began around Goulburn St, where there are still a lot of workmen’s cottages,’’ he said. ‘‘That was because it was one of the few places that had power and light and the water may not have been terribly good at that stage so beer was safer.”
‘‘There weren’t that many people who could read, so of an evening they would go to the local hotel and there would be someone there who could read the newspaper.’’
Mr Turvey said the two suburbs were similar, but West Hobart’s views over the city and river made it No. 1 in his eyes.
The top 10 sellers’ list is filled with southern suburbs, but Bushby Property Group director Mark Bushby says the state’s North should not be discounted.
He singled out East Launceston, Newstead, Launceston city, Trevallyn and Prospect as the suburbs in most demand in northern Tasmania.
‘‘It’s their centrality to the city and the character of the homes that make them so popular,’’ he said. ‘‘Trevallyn is filled with charming cottages that never date and Prospect has a lot of traditional low-maintenance brick properties that are ideal for bringing up a family in.’’
Also in the North, West Launceston, Hillwood, Lilydale, Norwood, South Launceston, Blackstone Heights and Acacia Hills feature in the top 50 sellers’ markets.