Key points

  • Manly was the only Sydney beach to rank in Tripadvisor’s list of beach beaches in the world.
  • It is popular with both home buyers as it offers the quintessential Australian lifestyle, but for a steep price tag.
  • Even entry-level apartments in the suburb command seven-figure prices.

Property listings

If you ask Sydneysiders what the city’s best beach is, you’re likely to get as many answers as beaches.

But according to visitors to Sydney there is one that stands well above the rest: Manly beach.

The popular northern beaches spot has been ranked as the 13th best beach in the world in Tripadvisor’s recent Travellers’ Choice Awards for 2023.

It was the only Sydney beach to make the list of top 25 beaches in the world, and the only other Australian contender was Broome’s Cable Beach, which placed third.

A Brazilian beach, Baia do Sancho, took the top spot. The awards are based on analysis of millions of reviews from the past year.

While reaching a consensus among Sydneysiders may not be as simple, there is no denying homes close to Manly beach are highly sought after — and have the price tag to prove it.

Manly beach was recently ranked as the 13th best beach in the world by Tripadvisor. Credit:Brook Mitchell

Houses in the suburb sold for a median price of $4,035,000 over 2022, on Domain data, down 8.3 per cent from the previous year. The northern beaches property market boomed during lockdown, but has since been among the hardest hit markets of Sydney, as buyer demand is cooled by fast-rising interest rates. Units sold for a median of $1,875,000, up 4.2 per cent on 2021 levels.

The desirable suburb draws interest from a mix of locals, out-of-area and international home buyers, chasing the quintessential Australian lifestyle, said Clarke & Humel principal Michael Clarke.

“Half the people are already locals who know how amazing it is and are looking to upgrade to get ever closer to the water, the other half are people who visit Manly or have read about it,” he said.

“It’s people who want the ultimate Australian dream,” he said. “You have one of the best surfing beaches… 200 metres away you have one of the best harbours.”

The popular beachside suburb of Manly.Credit:Janie Barrett

Buyers will need deep pockets to purchase in Manly.

Clarke said entry-level Manly homes fetched between $3 million and $4.5 million, quality family homes between $5 million and $10 million, and premium properties sold for upwards of $10 million.

He has listed a large three-bedroom harbour front apartment at 1/45 The Crescent Manly with a price guide of $9 million to $9.9 million.

The most expensive homes line Bower Street, where a $23 million suburb record was set last year for a near-original six-bedroom home, since demolished to make way for a new home.

“If you’re stepping out onto Shelly beach a knockdown can cost $20 million, and the same kind of block a few streets back could be $5 million or $6 million, the view and proximity makes a massive difference,” Clarke said.

Elsewhere, an original condition five-bedroom house on a 400-square-metre block overlooking the beach sold for $21.5 million at auction last year, while a five-bedroom house a 10-minute walk away on Wood Street, on a slightly larger block close to Little Manly beach, sold for $4 million in January.

A five-bedroom house at 2 Reddall Street, Manly, sold at auction for $21.5 million last year.

Clarke said rising interest rates had hit values last year as borrowing capacity was reduced, but demand is now its strongest in a year as buyers adjusted to higher rates.

“There was certainly a downturn from May to December last year, and every interest rate rise was a hammer blow to buyer perception of value or worse their [borrowing] capacity … whereas now people have factored in interest rate rises,” he said.

PK Property’s managing director and buyers’ agent Peter Kelaher said freestanding houses with $4 million price tags had become few and far between. Entry-level freestanding houses, near the beach, were fetching about $5 million.

For unit buyers, entry-level two-bedroom homes with parking started from about $1.3 million, while a renovated two-bedroom closer to the beach would fetch in the high $1 million to low $2 million range, he said.

Kelaher has seen strong demand from north shore downsizers looking for apartments with great views, which come at a sizeable premium.

“Properties with views demand another 30 per cent minimum,” Kelaher said.

Stone Real Estate Manly principal Candice Cattell said north shore downsizers made up the bulk of her buyers.

“There’s quite a lot of demand for both beachfront and harbour front, but [both buyer groups] want somewhere with a level walk to everywhere,” she said.

She recently sold a two-bedroom one-bathroom unit across from the beach for $2.75 million. Further back from the beach, a more modern two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment, with a large courtyard but no view, has an auction price guide of $1.95 million.

“[But] you can find a good two-bedroom, very basic apartment for around the mid $1 million mark, but it’s not in as good a location,” she said.

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