The suburban dream gets a modern reinvention

Enticed by affordable prices and the promise of an easy maintenance lifestyle, home-hunters are flocking to Perth’s outer ring areas to snap up apartments off-the-plan.

Enticed by affordable prices and the promise of an easy maintenance lifestyle, home-hunters are flocking to Perth’s outer ring areas to snap up apartments off-the-plan.

Figures from the Urban Development Institute of Australia show that suburban developments now make up 42 per cent of active apartment projects in the Perth region. Major developments are coming to life in suburbs such as Baldivis, Wellard, Atwell and Alkimos.

BGC Development General Manager Ross Catalano says buyers have long-desired apartments in suburban locations, but it is only in recent years that planning laws and local councils have started to allow for this to become a reality. He says the change is largely thanks to the State Government’s Direction 2031 strategy, aimed at improving Perth’s housing density and put a stop to urban sprawl.

He adds that professional couples, singles and downsizers are driving the new trend – people who don’t want to live in the city, but still see huge value in apartment living. Apartment living in suburban areas is giving people that may not have the budget for or the desire to maintain a traditional 4×2 suburban property, a new and affordable housing choice.

“Today’s home buyers often don’t have the ‘quarter acre’ dream,” Mr Catalano says. “Being in a well-connected location is considered much more important. These savvy, lifestyle-oriented buyers recognise that apartments no longer mean compromising on space or quality of life. In fact, the opposite is true.”

Price is also a key factor attracting apartment buyers away from the city, Mr Catalano says. Particularly given the State Government’s significant investment in roads, rail and other amenities in Perth’s outer areas, as well as the emergence of café and shopping hubs due to private investment.

“A one-bedroom apartment at BGC Development’s Jervis Rise development in Baldivis will set you back as little as $293,000,” he explains. “It offers many of the same features and finishes seen in central city apartments, which often sell for twice the price.”

This includes solar-passive design, large open plan living areas, entertaining balconies, and designer kitchens. Jervis Rise is currently under construction, with completion estimated around May 2017. With over 50 percent already sold, there are limited numbers of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments still available for sale.

Further adding to the attraction, the Jervis Rise development has a limited number of National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) incentives available which enables investors to receive generous annual incentives until June 2026. The NRAS incentive amount for  2016/2017 tax year is more than $11,000. The NRAS initiative, which is supported by both the State and Federal Governments, is designed to encourage investment in affordable housing.

The incentive over-compensates for the lowered rent, making the investment property significantly more profitable than something rented on the open market. A number of buyers had already taken advantage of this opportunity at Jervis Rise.

Mr Catalano says introducing apartments to suburbs that are traditionally low density is a responsibility BGC Development took seriously, and he points out special considerations it makes when building in such suburbs.

“We will not be building 20-storey towers in Baldivis,” he explains. “It’s important to retain and enhance the existing feel of the area. For example, Jervis Rise is just three-stories high. We work very closely with the local town planners, and put in a lot of effort to get the streetscape right.”

As testimony to the local acceptance of the project, local residents have been quick to invest. At Jervis Rise in particular, BGC Development is fielding significant demand from baby boomers currently living in the surrounding area.

“There’s large numbers of baby boomers in Perth’s suburbs who are ready to downsize. The feedback we hear from this demographic is that they are ready to sell the cumbersome family home and enjoy the freedom that an apartment will bring. At the same time, they want to stay living in the suburb that they know and love,” he says.

“The buyers we speak with are looking forward to being able to travel without worrying about things like the garden or security. They will also be freeing up their capital, so they can better enjoy their retirement.”

He predicts that demand from empty nesters will snowball as more and more see their friends enjoying apartment life.