City proximity, travel modes and house prices: the three cities in Sydney

Publication Name

Journal of Housing and the Built Environment


House prices are partly explained by proximity to the urban centre. Generally, and for simplicity, proximity is measured via straight-line distance (i.e., ‘as the crow flies’). However, distance between two points in space can be mainly conceptualised in three ways—straight-line, road-network and travel time-related overland. Therefore, the particular distance measure that portrays ‘reality’ as closely as possible in a given study is context-specific. We examine the implications of using different distance measures when analysing house prices. This Sydney case study used spatial econometric techniques as a robust mechanism to compare different distance measures. The disaggregated analysis of the three city regions confirmed that distinct distance metrics have specific effects on house prices. Including in the modelling process how residents perceive and value their proximity seems to improve the accuracy of ‘city centre effects’. A separate section links these findings to prevalent travel modes in different parts of Sydney, and it suggests there are three different cities in Sydney in terms of residents’ willingness to pay to live close to the city centre and preferred travel modes. While we reveal how residents’ preferences for transport modes are reflected in house prices, we emphasise the need for specific types of transport infrastructure (e.g., roads, highways and footpaths) in given regions.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Link to publisher version (DOI)