Prior to the current property boom, Mitcham was a bridesmaid suburb – an affordable option for families whose budget didn’t stretch to pricier nearby suburbs, such as Blackburn and Templestowe.
In 2014, the median house price was $690,000, and you could snap up a unit for just $525,000.
Fast forward to today, and the current median house price in Mitcham is now a touch over $1 million dollars – up 14% in the past year, and more than 50% in the past three years. Units have grown by 31.3% in the last twelve months, and 40% since 2014, with their median price now sitting at $735,000.
In September this year, 8 Haslemere Road, Mitcham, broke all the records, becoming the first property in the suburb’s history to reach the $2 million mark – a figure homeowners would have scoffed at if it had been predicted ten years ago.
“I remember going past that house when I first moved to Mitcham and thinking ‘I’d love to sell that house one day’,” says local agent Matthew Scafidi, of Noel Jones Mitcham. “But I never would have imagined it would sell for $2 million!”
So, how has this unassuming locale, 25 kilometres from the city centre, transformed into a million-dollar market?
Mitcham’s million-dollar transformation
A good mix of tree-lined streets with renovated period homes, new builds and modern apartment blocks, Mitcham is located approximately half-way between the Melbourne CBD and Mount Dandenong. It’s also home to a number of excellent parks, bustling cafes, and the Yarran Dheran bushlands – great for long walks and picnics. Over the past decade, infrastructure spending and rapid development has seen this sleepy suburb rocket into the twenty-first century.
“I think it’s basically the money that’s been put into area over the past 5-7 years,” says Matthew, referring to the massive upgrades to roads, public transport and shopping facilities that have occurred.
The Eastern Freeway extension, Eastlink, was completed in 2008, and connects the suburb to the south-eastern freeway – making travel to Dandenong, Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula a breeze.
The two train stations, Mitcham and Heatherdale, have been modernised, and the level crossings replaced with underground tracks, benefiting both rail commuters and drivers.
In neighbouring Ringwood, Eastland shopping centre has just undergone a major redevelopment worth $700 million, transforming it from a tired suburban complex into a thriving retail and lifestyle hub, complete with major retailers, iconic international brands, and a new dining precinct.
Apex of the eastern suburbs
A number of older properties have been knocked-down, with freestanding homes and unit complexes built in their place, making it a sought-after suburb for both renters and owner-occupiers.
“It’s really become the apex for the eastern suburbs,” says Matthew. “You can get anywhere, whether it be on public transport or along the arterial roads. There’s great schools and parks, and of course the upgrade to Eastland has made it so much more appealing.”
There are three public primary schools and one Catholic school on offer, with Mitcham Primary School particularly sought-after for its Montessori pathway. Unique among public primary schools, the program also serves as an entry into the tightly-zoned Templestowe College, making it popular with parents seeking alternative education options. The local high school, Mullauna College, ranks very competitively with neighbouring public and private schools, despite its small cohort.
Matthew says he was told by a buyer recently that although they love Blackburn, which has traditionally outperformed Mitcham, they actually prefer Mitcham – because it’s leafier, and has more appealing, character homes.
“I’m a bit biased – my wife and I live in Mitcham ourselves,” he says. “Basically, it’s got everything on offer: the coffee shop scene in Britannia Mall, Halliday Park, and of course seven and a half hectares to run around in Yarran Dheran. We’re finding a number of vendors who are selling to upgrade are having to move further out, because the market in Mitcham is just so strong.”