Centre for Affordable Housing

Housing Market Snapshot - North Sydney Sub Region

The Housing Story in North Sydney

The North Sydney subregion is home to significant employment opportunities in the sweep from North Sydney through St Leonards and Chatswood to Macquarie Park, with good transport infrastructure through this area. The northern beaches and large areas of National Park are also part of this subregion and these areas have very high amenity. This is a highly desirable subregion to live, there is significant competition within and pressure on the housing market here, and consequently it is also a high price location both for rent and purchase. Parts of this subregion have traditionally provided more affordable rental accommodation, but significant gentrification has seen a decline in affordable rental and increased competition for what little affordable accommodation remains.

What’s the Housing Demand?

Lone person and couple only households at 2011 in the North Sydney subregion comprised between 41% (Hornsby) and 62% (North Sydney) of all households. Couple families with children are the largest household type in most LGAs although for many the proportion is lower than the Sydney average. Lone person households are forecast to increase strongly to 2031 in most LGAs, with couple only households and couple family households also increasingly strongly in some areas (DPE projections).

All the North Sydney subregion LGAs (except for North Sydney and Hornsby) have a higher proportion of frail aged (that is 80+ years) than the Sydney average (4.0%) and Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Mosman, Pittwater and Warringah have higher proportions of seniors (65-79 years) than the Sydney average (9.6%). A strong increase in residents aged over 65 is forecast in all LGAs in the subregion and also in young people (under 15) in most North Sydney subregion LGAs (DPE projections).

All the North Sydney subregion local government areas have higher proportions of high income households and lower proportions of low and moderate income households than the average for Sydney. However, the number of low income households increased in every North Sydney subregion LGA between 2006 and 2011. In fact, over that period the proportion of high income households dropped in Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby, Mosman, Pittwater, Willoughby and Warringah and the proportion of moderate income households increased in Ku-ring-gai, Mosman and Hornsby.

What’s Happening in the Market?

The trend to decline in outright ownership and increase in households purchasing has also occurred in the North Sydney subregion. Some LGAs had increases in the proportion of private rental households, with Ku-ring-gai having the largest increase of 2.6%, followed by Willoughby with 1.9% and Hunters Hill with 1.7%, while others - North Sydney, Mosman, Lane Cove, Pittwater and Warringah - have actually lost private rental stock.

There have been moderate increases in median rents for all dwellings over the last five years in the North Sydney subregion. Rental increases in the five year period to 2013 have been proportionately lower in this subregion than any other subregion in Sydney – but rental levels in this subregion were already very high. Since 2006 the vacancy rate has been below 2%, indicating a severe shortage. Only a very small proportion of stock is affordable for rental to very low income households (between 0.2% and 2.3%) and for low income households (1.9% - 9.8%). All ten North Sydney subregion local government areas have experienced a significant loss of affordable rental housing between 2006 and 2013 – ranging between 52% fewer affordable rental bonds lodged in Willoughby over that period to 85% fewer in Mosman. The total number lost in some LGAs in the subregion is relatively small, but that just indicates how few affordable private rental properties remained by 2006 in parts of the North Sydney subregion.

Changes in the median purchase price have been mostly been upward – although median house prices in Mosman and North Sydney actually declined between 2008 and 2013 (from a very high base). Currently, neither very low nor low income households can afford to purchase in any of the North Sydney subregion LGAs. The opportunities for moderate income households to purchase in the subregion are very limited – Ryde provides the most scope with a mere 2% affordable for purchase, with Hornsby 1.4%, Warringah 1.2% and all remaining North Sydney subregion LGAs having even less affordable purchase.

What’s Happening with Supply – and is it a good match?

Some North Sydney subregion LGAs have a good mix of dwelling types, while others not so much. Lone person and couple only households at 2011 in the North Sydney subregion comprised between 41% and 62% of all households, yet across all the North Sydney subregion LGAs, by far the biggest increase has been in four or more bedrooms dwellings. Further, combined studio, one and two bedroom stock in Hornsby at 2011 comprises just 15.4% of all dwellings; in Hunters Hill 18.5%; in Ku-ring-gai 10.2%; in Pittwater 15.5%. These LGAs in particular have a poor match between the types of households who live there and the bedroom mix available.

There is a large and growing gap between the increasing number of low income households in the private rental market and the declining remnant of private rental properties that are affordable for low income households. There is clearly strong demand for private rental, in part generated by proximity to employment in the northern part of the global corridor, yet some LGAs are experiencing a decline in private rental accommodation. There is a need for more targeted affordable private rental and greater diversity in rental stock, including studios, new generation boarding houses and secondary dwellings to meet some of this demand and in response to the high and growing proportions of seniors and frail aged in this subregion. This kind of accommodation also suits students and would be useful in Ryde in particular, in proximity to the university.

Comparative Statistics

  • Number of rental households at 2011: 41,077 (a quarter of this is in North Sydney LGA alone)
  • Number of low income rental households at 2011: 17,333
  • Number of Low Income Renters in Housing Stress at 2011: 15,776
  • Number of Affordable Rental Properties Lost (2006 – 2013): 4,405
  • Number of Homeless 2011: 1,602

Key Regional Statistics

  • Number of lone person households: 67,925
  • Number of couple only households: 75,660
  • Number of studio dwellings: 579
  • Number of one bedroom dwellings: 7,980
Area Median age 2011 Seniors 65 - 79 2011 Frail Aged 80+ 2011





Hunter's Hill








Lane Cove












North Sydney




















Sydney SD




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