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Collaroy - A tale of three markets

Collaroy on Sydney's Northern Beaches is known for its gorgeous stretch of sand, beachfront properties and the apartments that line Pittwater Road. But when you dive a little deeper - like we did in this conversation with Jill Rafferty from McGrath Collaroy - you soon find there is more to Collaroy than meets the eye.


When Nick and Cat started the interview, they thought there were three distinct markets to Collaroy – the basin, the apartments and the plateau. But by the end of the conversation, Jill had added the valley and the cliff to the list of sub-markets.


As it turns out, there truly is something for everyone in sunny Collaroy.

Jill Rafferty, McGrath Collaroy


Jill, you’ve both lived and worked in Collaroy for a number of years now. What attracts people to the suburb?


Good question. Originally my real estate career brought me to Collaroy because we opened a McGrath franchise here. I then went on to buy a home in the area. It suited me, my children and our lifestyle. When I started selling more real estate in the area, I realised that the people coming in were a lot like me – families with a couple of kids.


Families are drawn to Collaroy because of things like the schools, which are fabulous. And there is a great community feeling here – it’s this sneaky little pocket with a perfect beach and a great nippers club. Plus, developments such as The Collaroy pub by Justin Hemmes have added some extra spark to the area.


There is also better value for money here compared to places like Manly and Freshwater which have become really expensive. You get a bigger block in Collaroy which means being able to have a family size home.


The other big thing that happened to Collaroy was the B-Line bus service. People used to think of Collaroy as being so far away. But services like the B-Line have made the trip into the city a lot easier.


Who is buying in Collaroy?


There are two main groups of people I think worth mentioning here.


The first are the new-to-area people who come to Collaroy. We’ve seen a big increase in people from other parts of Sydney as a result of the COVID pandemic because of the lifestyle on offer. I think the pandemic helped people realise what’s important to them and so many made the decision to move somewhere that offers a more attractive lifestyle.


The other group that we sell to a lot is people already living in Collaroy. I find I am often moving people from street to street as they outgrow their current place and want to upsize. They love the area and want to stay, but they just need a different type of house now that their needs have changed. When people come to Collaroy, they tend to stay in Collaroy.


Collaroy has some quite distinct pockets –can you help us understand these different sub markets?


First up, you’ve got Collaroy Basin which is the little pocket near the Long Reef golf course. The basin has had consistently amazing growth because it's a small pocket that’s flat with big blocks. The accessibility of this area is incredible. You don’t need a car. You can walk to the renowned Long Reef golf course, the tennis courts, dog park, restaurants, bus stop and the beach.


On the other side of Pittwater Road you've got the streets that sit behind the lovely Alfresco Emporium. You might call this area the Collaroy valley. This part is also level with big blocks and a short walk to the beach. It’s prime real estate. What we find is that when the basin has strong growth, the valley side has good growth too.


Up the hill is Collaroy Plateau, which is really tightly held by families. There are slightly smaller blocks than down in the basin and valley, but they still allow for good size family homes. There’s lots of school age kids up there with access to great schools.


Next up, we’ve got the units of Collaroy. Some of them are beachfront whilst others are on the other side of Pittwater Road. There's not as many here as say Narrabeen or Dee Why, but there is a little pocket of one and two bedders which plod along as good investments. They rent really well and move quickly when they come onto the market. We’ve also got some larger units, many that are beachfront or have views, which are popular with Collaroy’s down-sizers.


Jill, can you dive into Collaroy Plateau a little more for us? It used to be less popular than Collaroy but has that changed?


Collaroy Plateau has grown in popularity in recent years and people really want to get into the area. There is a grid of streets and right in the middle is a park where the kids play soccer and football. There are excellent schools as well as pre-schools, doctors, vets, two little sets of shops and cafes.


It is such a great community. Everyone knows everyone and it’s almost like each street has got its own little community. The kids all know each other.


The blocks on the plateau aren’t as big as down the hill but they’re still a good size. People are getting nice homes on the blocks and there aren’t many now that aren’t new or renovated. Families in this part of the plateau can get in for the mid two millions and above.


Around the edge of the plateau you’ve got one of the best views on the Northern Beaches. If you’re on Edgecliff Boulevard, for instance, you can see all the way up to the Central Coast at one end and Manly at the other. It’s a highly sought-after spot with properties up there selling for anything from six to 10 million.


In 2016, some of the homes on the Collaroy beachfront got seriously damaged when a big storm and surf rolled in. Has that affected the market for those properties?


It's a good question and a little hard to answer because there haven't been many sales on that strip since then.


The owners have stayed and fought to protect their homes by getting a sea wall built. The wall is happening now and that will give a lot of people comfort. Initially, it would have affected their sale prices but I think with the wall going in some people will feel more comfortable with the risk.


It’s important to remember too that it was one particular point that was most affected. Many of the homes along there weren’t impacted at all.


Want to hear direct from Jill? Listen to her chat with Nick and Cat here.


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