Catherine and Dr Chris Reitz with kids Matilda and Marcus at their Malabar home. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
THERE used to be a whiff of snobbish disdain about the southeastern suburb of Malabar, house prices dragged down by a poo pipe and proximity to Long Bay jail.
“When I was young — and I’m talking 40 or 50 years ago — it was one of those places you didn’t really want to live in,” says the deputy mayor of Randwick, Danny Said, who grew up in the neighbouring suburb of Matraville.
“Pioneer Park was a rubbish dump, the sewage went straight into the sea and you had the jail.”
But since the 1990s, outfalls have removed the sewage from Malabar Bay and trees surround the jail.
“You wouldn’t even know it’s there,” said Cr Said, 55, who loves Matraville so much he’s stayed, first buying a townhouse and then a house where he and his wife still live.
Malabar Rock Pool. Picture: Danny Aarons
A coastal walking track walk takes you to south Maroubra, there’s a rockpool, cafes and it’s sometimes possible to see migrating whales in Malabar Bay.
Young families from Randwick and Coogee have been migrating to both suburbs in droves, craving the homes on big blocks and relative affordability.
And that’s pushed up house prices astronomically in Malabar and Matraville over the past five years — with more growth in that period than both Coogee and Randwick, according to CoreLogic.
Malabar has gone up 82.9 per cent to $2.35 million and Matraville 80 per cent to $1.8 million; while the rises in Randwick have been 60.5 per cent (to $2.45 million) and in Coogee 75.9 per cent (to $2.85 million).
Catherine and Dr Chris Reitz with kids Matilda and Marcus at their Malabar property on Friday. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
They’ve even gone up more than ritzy Little Bay, where the Prince Henry Hospital site has been redeveloped into luxurious houses and apartments (78.8 per cent, to $1.85 million).
Over the year, as the median value Sydney houses has fallen 8.43 per cent, in Malabar they’ve risen 10.3 per cent. In Matraville they’ve risen 1.5 per cent, Randwick’s up 2.3 per cent and Coogee has dropped 2.1 per cent. They’ve dropped 3.4 per cent in Little Bay.
“People are getting priced out of the more desirable eastern suburbs,” Realestate.com.au economist Nerida Conisbee.
“Certainly there’s a ripple effect.”
The Reitz family home at 27 Nix Ave, Malabar, is on a decent 682 sqm block
The extraordinary growth has been a boon for Malabar homeowners Catherine and Christopher Reitz.
Mrs Reitz (nee Barclay), who is a former professional tennis player and was in the Olympic squad, met Dr Reitz, a former member of the German national field hockey team and a triple Olympian, during the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“You got to meet a lot of other tennis players and other athletes during that time — it was special,” Mrs Reitz said.
They had a whirlwind romance, got married in Germany in 2003 and moved to Sydney in 2005, choosing Malabar.
The couple soon after they met at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony
“Chris came from Frankfurt where there were big homes on a bit of land, that’s why Malabar appealed to him because it had a little bit of space,” Mrs Reitz said.
They bought their five-bedroom home on a decent 682 sqm block at 27 Nix Ave for $953,000 in 2005.
It’s now up for December 1 auction through McGrath Coogee agents Angus Gorrie and Nicholas Wise with a guide of $2.1 million.
“You can can get a semi in Randwick for $2.5 million or a freestanding house in Malabar on 700 sqm for about $2 million,” Mr Gorrie said.
“It’s five minutes longer in the car and that’s what you’re getting.”
While it’s a tough market across Sydney, he’s encouraged to be getting 28 groups through the open home.
Dr Reitz, now an orthapaedic surgeon, with Mrs Reitz and children Matilda, 9, and Marcus, 5, are heading to Kensington or Clovelly to be closer to family.
“Malabar has been a great stepping stone,” Mrs Reitz said.