Curl Curl and North Curl Curl - or Curly as the suburbs are known to the locals - used to be one of the best kept secrets on the Northern Beaches. Known for gorgeous beaches, extensive parklands and a handful of local shops, Curly has always had a laid-back, small-town vibe.
But the secret is now definitely out, with the sister-suburbs gaining popularity fast in recent years. Entry level prices for the area are now in the mid to high two millions and it doesn’t take much for prices to tip over the three million mark.
To understand more and find out what drives the market, 26 and Sunny’s Nick Freeman and Cat Denney sat down for a chat with local real estate agent and Curl Curl/North Curl Curl specialist, Rob Killian from Belle Property
Rob Killian, Belle Property Manly
Rob, for people who aren't familiar with Curl Curl and North Curl Curl, can you give us an overview of the two suburbs and help us understand the differences?
For sure. The two suburbs are separated geographically by Curly Lagoon. They also have different postcodes with Curly having the Freshwater postcode 2096 and North Curly having the postcode 2099.
Curl Curl is the smaller suburb compared to North Curly but combined you're looking around 2000 properties in the area. They’re separated by the lagoon, but share the one fantastic beach.
The areas are very popular with families. It correct that Curl Curl North Public School had a multi-million-dollar upgrade recently?
Spot on, it was a massive $41 million upgrade. The school's always had a fantastic reputation with regards to the teaching staff and its sense of community, but the old buildings were pretty tired. The state-of-the-art facilities they have now are as good as any school I've seen, and it’s certainly brought the standard of the facilities up to the standard of the teaching staff.
Still on schools, you've also got Harbord which captures the Curl Curl area. Plus St. Luke's Grammar, the Manly Selective Campus of the Northern Beaches Secondary College and, Freshwater High in the area. It's a great offering in terms of schools.
Apart from the schools, what else do you think draws people to the Curly/ North Curly area?
One of the big differentiators is, of course, the beach. It's not your traditional, commercialised strip, comparable to somewhere like Bondi or Manly with restaurants, cafes, and cars zooming up and down.
By contrast, Curly’s got a more natural charm. There’s a dog park, a pretty spectacular walking track, and the dunes that have been well looked after for years. It’s what gives our beach its charm, and it’s what the locals are fiercely protective of. The fact it’s more old school is part of the attraction. If you want to go out for dinner, you can head over the hill to Freshly or Manly, but Curly's a bit more old school, and I think that's what people love.
All this appeals to the typical demographic of buyers in the area - families. People buying in the area are often young couples in their late 30s or early 40s with a few kids.
Curly and North Curly are very tightly held property markets. Why do you think that is?
Yes, there's notoriously low stock. In North Curly there are only around 40 or 50 properties a year that hit the market and many are circumstantial sellers - a deceased estate, the result of a marriage separation, things like that. They are properties that sell because they have to, not because people want to leave.
Then we have people that are looking to upgrade. There's always a bit of manoeuvring from existing residents into a slightly better spot. Also, of course, there’s the pressure from out-of-area buyers, especially from the north shore and eastern suburbs. Once they get here, they don't want to leave.
Rob, what about the transfer of property between generations in families, is that a factor?
For sure. In North Curly there's always between 10 and 20 properties per year that trade with a zero or $1 transfer - that's essentially the property just trading in the family. That hasn't changed. There’s lots of multi-generational North Curly people who were born in North Curly and aren’t going anywhere.
There’s also people who leave the area for one reason or another then return. I had one buyer recently who left when he was about six or seven years old, then returned as an adult telling me, "I was always coming home to North Curly." So even people who leave for whatever reason ultimately come back.
There is a really, really high-end market in Curl Curl and North Curl Curl. Can you tell us about that?
On the premium streets, we’ve had a few sales in the last year or two where we've sold knockdowns that have gone in the low to mid $6 million mark. Finished products, meanwhile, have gone in the $7 millions and $8 millions. We've just had one in the last 12 months at $8 million on Ian Avenue.
In terms of who those buyers are, it's interesting. As mentioned it’s often someone already in Curly, North Curly, or Freshwater who wants to be in a premium spot so are trading up. We see a lot of that.
The common denominator is that the premium buyers are usually really successful business people who have purchased in that area and are always looking around. It’s CEOs wearing board shorts, essentially.
How many people are coming in from the eastern suburbs and other areas?
It’s huge. I think, during the second COVID-19 lockdown, we were selling three out of 10 properties to people from the eastern suburbs, whereas that's traditionally about one in 20.
One trend I noticed was that often the buyer from the eastern suburbs will go to Freshwater first to look because their friends have told them "You need to go and have a look at Freshwater". They'll initially look at property there and then they realise that the postcode 2096 includes Curl Curl.
At that point, they start looking at properties in Curl Curl, subsequently get a feel for the area, and next thing you know they're looking at properties in North Curl Curl as well.
There’s the premium market, but what sort of price does an average family home going for?
There are some smaller blocks in the suburb - 350 or so square meters – that are a little less expensive. Or if you buy on one of the busier streets, you'll get a slight price decrease. But I think realistically it always comes back to sunlight aspects and ease of liveability.
In terms of getting into the suburbs, I think the entry level is still in the two millions – around the mid to high two millions. But, it has to be said, that it really doesn't take much around here to get up the three and four millions - the secret is definitely out.
So Rob, the market's turned since its peak late last year. What are you seeing now with stock levels?
There's never enough stock in Curly and North Curly and that's historically always been the case. Across all of the Northern Beaches listings are down 34 per cent on last year - we just wish we had more stock.
To be honest, I don't see that changing anytime soon. One of the things that happens in our area -- we saw it during COVID-19 -- whenever there's any uncertainty in our market, the locals just batten down the hatches and ride it out. So, I guess it’s a matter of ‘just wait and see’ at the moment on that front.
Prefer to listen? Check out the podcast interview with Rob here.