Location Location Location hosts Mitch Edwards and Mark McKie thought they knew Wollongong, until filming this week’s episode revealed it’s an undiscovered property gem with huge potential.
The pair visited the Illawarra for Friday’s (4 August) episode of the property TV show in which two couples are house hunting in the region.
The episode showcases opposite ends of the Wollongong property market.
Mark helps childhood sweethearts of 51 years, Andrew and Marea, find a “renovator’s delight” for under $700,000 in the Lake Heights and Berkeley areas, while Mitch helps Melbourne couple Meg and Dave find a luxury home with an active beachside lifestyle within their $3 million budget around Thirroul and Bulli.
“I love the fact that on Location Location Location, we do have a diversity of budget and people can see markets that are amazing, but markets that are more accessible,” Mark said.
While Mitch and Mark have 20 years’ experience buying and renovating, including appearing on The Block, they tend to avoid the more dilapidated fixer-uppers.
“What was interesting was they were looking for more work rather than less,” Mitch said of tap dancing teacher Marea and plumber Andrew.
Mark agreed, saying it was a unique wishlist.
“I think what appealed to me was that honestly, with them at their time in life, is that good on you, you’re giving it a go, you’re embracing life,” Mark said.
“I liked that they were prepared to go into properties and try to imagine the possibilities where, for some people we’ve worked with, they have a big wishlist, and they’re not able to vary from that.
“Part of our job is to talk about compromise, talk about the realities of the property market.
“I really liked that with them it was almost to the opposite end.
“One of the kitchens we showed them, it was very small and in need of a lot of work, and Marea was like, ‘Oh no, that’s fine, we don’t use kitchens very much’.”
While Mitch had a $3 million budget to work with in a market where the median house price is $900,000, he said it didn’t always make the task easier.
“You get a good dose of real estate porn when you’re looking at the other end of the market,” Mitch said.
“But by the same token, whether you’re looking with a low budget or a high budget … it’s still the same emotional journey.
“They were faced with a compromise – they had to decide: do we want to be able to stroll to the beach and have a small home and small yard or do we want to go big and have a 10-minute drive to the beach?”
Mitch revelled in his task.
“What it did for me was it opened my eyes up to the northern beaches of Wollongong – oh my god, it’s so beautiful,” he said.
“Sydneysiders, as a rule, if they leave Sydney for a coastal, I think the automatic thing is to go north to the Central Coast and beyond, yet Wollongong is way more accessible.
“I just couldn’t get over what an opportunity Wollongong is.
“That coastline is so spectacular.
“I think I saw Wollongong at its best – whether you’re on the flatlands walking to the beach or up towards the hills, it’s just striking.
“It’s going to be a really great opportunity to showcase an area that I think a lot of people, whether you’re in NSW or anywhere in the country, won’t know about.”
Mark said while the pair had spent time in the Illawarra with projects over the years, their eyes had been opened to its potential.
“We felt we knew it but we really had to learn a lot more about it and we just think it’s beautiful and, I think for a big part of our population, an undiscovered gem that’s just a spectacular area,” he said.
“It’s an area we would never have considered we could live in previously.
“We live in Newport Beach up near Palm Beach in Sydney, and we see a lot of parallels where we’re about 45 minutes from the city on a good day and Wollongong’s similar, but we would never have considered moving down that way prior to coming up here.”
So how does the Wollongong property market compare to other areas in Australia?
“One difference in the places around Australia is you can buy maybe a property in Wollongong, that in Sydney you’re not going to be able to afford,” Mark said.
Mitch said the price was right for entry level properties in beautiful areas like Lake Heights and Berkeley.
“You won’t get land in way out Western Sydney for the price that we’re looking at,” Mitch said.
“And, if you’re looking at the luxury homes that I was looking at with Meg and Dave with the beach locations like Thirroul and that area, that $3 million buys you a lot more in the Illawarra than it does here in Sydney.
“It’s really good value.
“Personally, for us, if it was a choice of living in far Western Sydney or the beach in Wollongong, I think I’d go for the beach.”
Mitch said he hoped the show demystified the process of buying property, and the reality around budget versus availability.
He also admitted the emotional side of buying was challenging – even for them.
“The personal side Mark and I really invest heavily in and we get emotionally invested,” Mitch said.
“Obviously we’re not supposed to be emotionally invested, so we’ve broken the host rule.
“We’re just as happy when they are, or disappointed when they don’t get it.”
The episode will air on 4 August at 7:30 pm on 10 and 10 Play.