Sydney’s property boom has passed its fifth year, and prices have risen by $100,000 a year on average.

The five-year surge has not just impacted the value of real estate. It has also altered the geography of Sydney, created a major rift between the haves and have-nots, and fuelled a culture that encourages property investment, according to Jennifer Duke of the Domain Group.

Five years ago, Sydney’s median house price was a modest $646,000. Today, the median house price has jumped to $1.15m, according to the latest data from the Domain Group. This has created a major divide in the Harbour City, with the population split between property millionaires and perennial renters.

Listed here are some of the ways the property boom has altered Sydney:

1. The bottom rung has disappeared from the property ladder

With the Reserve Bank’s interest rates at record lows, those who already own homes are benefitting immensely. The rate cutting cycle is widely seen as one of the major factors fuelling the boom, and has proven to be advantageous to those who are paying a mortgage.

The obvious winners of the property boom are the Sydneysiders who’ve seen the value of their homes surge over the past five years and their mortgage payments shrink, according to Andrew Wilson, Domain Group’s chief economist.

Across Sydney, 78 suburbs now boast a median house price of $2m or more, compared to only six suburbs in 2012.

However, for those who are saving for a deposit, the task has become much harder due to the lower rates.

Affordable suburbs are fast disappearing for first-home buyers. Prior to the start of the housing boom, there were more than 150 suburbs with median house prices under $500,000. By 2017, only four suburbs could claim such median house prices.

“If you’re not on the ladder, you’ll find there isn’t a bottom rung anymore,” Wilson said.

2. Investor culture has become the norm

In Sydney, the traditional overall homeownership to investor rate has been about 70% to 30%, according to Robert Mellor, managing director of BIS Oxford Economics.

Now, it’s more like 60/40, he said.

During the height of the boom, NSW investors hit a record high proportion of the market, buying more than half of the properties for sale during some months.

“This was in part due to the snowball effect in the housing market, and exuberance and growing equity as prices increased, but was also a phenomenon of investors looking for different asset classes post-global financial crisis,” Duke said.

3. Inequality is on the rise across the city

An asset-based divide is opening up in Australia, driven by differential housing wealth, but also differential superannuation wealth, according to Bill Randolph, professor and director of UNSW City Futures Research Centre.

He warned that the Sydney boom would lead to “class-based as well as inter-generationally based inequality,” with the winners being those who owned property or whose parents owned property in the right location.

“I think we are at something of a turning point in housing wealth that will be much more down to cumulative inherited outcomes – including access to ‘good’ education, jobs and opportunities as a well as housing wealth – rather than what you do for yourself, which has been the case for the last couple of generations,” he said.