Developers of smaller apartments projects across Perth say some of the state government’s recent measures to stimulate economic activity and employment in light of COVID-19 are good in theory, but may not meet expectations in practice.
Among the measures is a streamlined assessment process for ‘significant developments’, defined as those projects with an estimated cost of at least $30 million or new residential buildings proposing more than 100 dwellings.
Developer and architect Barry Baltinas hopes the approvals process for the smaller, high-end apartment projects he focuses on could also be streamlined.
“These smaller projects can get off the ground very quickly, helping to create jobs and incomes for Perth families at a time when that is very much needed,” Mr Baltinas told Business News.
“Now more than ever, buyers are putting their health and the health of their family in focus, and boutique living aligns with that.”
Baltinas’s latest project, the $19 million Habitat Residences in Applecross, recently completed construction and features 14 apartments and three penthouses.
Mr Baltinas said the lack of shared facilities at the projects had proved to be a drawcard, particularly in recent weeks.
“It not only means fewer maintenance costs, but brings fewer health implications, which is obviously top of mind for many buyers right now,” he said.
“We’re seeing more activity in the market, in particular from those downsizers who have not been greatly impacted financially by recent events.”
M/Group managing director Lloyd Clark said there had been a lot of speculation about the potential negative impact of COVID-19 on the property industry, but the company’s apartment arm Match, which mostly develops 30-40 dwellings over three to five storeys, had not adjusted its pipeline.
“Boutique product holds its value,” Mr Clark told Business News.
“It’s important to note that the apartment market is heavily impacted by continued population growth, and an emerging generation that values central urban living over the half-acre block.”
Mr Clark said this would continue to increase demand for quality product in desirable locations.
“If the government’s mandate is to stimulate the economy and fast track project development, it needs to approach all areas of the property sector equally,” he said.
“We believe it is absolutely counterproductive for the government to favour one style of dwelling over another in any capacity.
“There is a whole market sector that would never consider high-density living, so disadvantaging them with time delays does not service anyone.”
Excerpt from Business News – 22 June 2020
A Terrace Home Affair for MatchRead more
Most people know that Match has been a significant trailblazer for the Perth apartment living scene. This well-earned distinction was bestowed over two decades ago when the company founders challenged Perth’s planning code and pushed design parameters to protect our streetscapes from large unsightly ‘cookie-cutter’ apartment product.
The introduction of cutting-edge boutique apartment design into our urban environments was something many had not seen before, and the company’s ability to secure highly visible and strategic lifestyle sites made everyone sit up and notice.
Today, Match is still delivering a stunning range of apartment designs and the market is now fully aware of the benefits apartment living can provide.
So, why is the company shifting its attention to Terrace Homes?
After its enormous success in the apartment sector, Match recently stunned its followers by introducing two projects that have moved away from its recognised apartment formula.
M/31 Terrace Homes and M/32 Terrace Homes are located in Landcorp’s visionary Shoreline Precinct in North Coogee.
The two projects are idyllically positioned just metres from the coastline and, like all other Match product, are distinctive in design and layout.
Lloyd Clark, Managing Director of Match parent company, M/Group, said the new category of housing was an exciting shift for the Match design team, but was not such a huge leap in terms of the company’s design philosophy.
“Every one of Match’s projects is distinctive in many ways, because we design specifically for the location and the residents we hope to attract to it,” he said.
“There is no doubt that Perth’s perception of apartment living has changed over the years, and that more and more people are moving away from the half acre block on the fringes of the city to a more lifestyle-driven atmosphere closer to the action.
“When we secured these incredible sites at Shoreline, we saw an opportunity to give our residents an experience that sits somewhere in between.”
M/31 Terrace Homes by Match are well-appointed three-bedroom terrace homes that include open plan layouts that integrate indoor and outdoor living. Each home comes with a double carport, private and sheltered courtyard, and is architecturally designed to maximise light, space and breeze.
M/32 Terrace Homes by Match is based on a unique architectural style that uses beautifully landscaped laneways and a central lawn area to create a sense of privacy, serenity and space. The terrace homes are designed to be ultra-modern and their floorplans are spacious laid out across three stories.
“As the apartment market has evolved, so too has Match’s desire to keep meeting the demand of people who want the best out of their lives and their home environments,” he said.
“We helped to break the mould of apartment living back in the early 2000’s, now we’re looking to bring even more to the table in terms of innovation and style.”
Prices for M/31 Terrace Homes by Match start from $550,000 and M/32 Terrace Homes by Match start from $685,000.
Government Grants a Welcome Injection for Land BuyersRead more
Government incentives to buy land and build new homes has sent demand for land skyrocketing, according to Perth land developers.
“We are only weeks in from the state and federal governments’ stimulus announcement and the response has been significant,” Monument parent company M/Group Director John Wroth said. “So much so, that we expect to sell our current stock across all projects within a month.
“This is absolutely monumental. People are quickly responding to the prospect of up to almost $70,000 in incentives. Those who previously could only budget for outer-fringe areas might now be able to afford the more desirable land close to the city such as Beeliar, Piara Waters and Treeby.”
“However, this is a finite window of opportunity and I would strongly encourage anyone looking to get a foothold in the more sought-after areas to act quickly before prices adjust to demand.”
Cuttone Property Group Managing Director Phil Cuttone has also witnessed a significant growth in interest.
“We are seeing a significant spike in sales with most developers having to now consider constructing more lots to bring on new stock as quickly as possible before the December 31 grants deadline,” he said.
“The next three to four months should see titled stock being depleted across all urban areas around Perth, especially in affordable first homebuyer areas.”
“Lifestyle areas such as North Dandalup and West Pinjarra are also benefiting from land uptake where a significant increase of sales is evident.”
While this current period may be welcomed by developers, the future of the land market is dependent on a number of factors, from employment and migration growth to affordability, according to Mr Cuttone.
“Once we can look beyond the COVID-19 implications, the outlook may be positive in Western Australia compared to the eastern states, where the land prices have been at artificial highs compared to Perth which has experienced the opposite,” he said.
“I have an optimistic view of the recovery in the Perth land market for the future, anticipating that land prices will be steady for the next few years after the end of the grants, given that there is an oversupply of affordable land coming onto the market in the future.”
Mr Wroth said while land stock was being quickly bought up, buyers were spoilt for choice.
“Land buyers are certainly not starved for choice with four corridors of development and some very attractive infill land sites on the table,” he said.
“The market shake-up could have some impact on zoning, with some high-density zoned sites possibly changing to direct land subdivision.”
“However, this will all be dependent on the state and federal governments’ ability to maintain demand and stimulate the economy through the job creation, migration and improved relations with our South East Asian neighbours.”
“It is important to recognise that the property market is strong aligned to a good economy.”
The land market has been performing well recently, according to REIWA data witnessing 5049 sales for the year to March 2020, with a median price of $248,000 and 5.1 per cent change in prices for the year.
Piara Waters and Baldivis we two hotspots for land sales, witnessing 201 and 192 sales, respectively.
While the average days on the market for the land was 60, some areas like Bedford and Kinglsey witness an average of 299 and 329 days on the market, respectively.
Most areas of Perth have seen price increases, with Perth south eat witnessing a 7.1 per cent increase for the year, while the inner suburbs or Perth suffered and 10.1 per cent decrease.
Excerpt from The West Australian Property Report, 20 June 2020
Apartment Buyers PounceRead more
While COVID-19 has sent ripples throughout all sectors of the real estate market, Managing Director of Match parent company M/Group Lloyd Clark said that the negatives would be short-lived, while the positives would have a longer-lasting impact for the apartment sector.
“Just as quickly as Perth moved through the restrictions, enquiries returned,” he said. “The disruption had significantly less impact that initially anticipated,”
“Firstly, we saw the apartment industry reinvent itself to provide highly digitalised access to apartment spaces.”
“Equally, our market became adept at reviewing possible investment opportunities online.”
“For a sector that deals significantly with off-the-plan products, this was really a watershed moment, and when enquiries returned, these people were highly qualified and informed buyers.”
Mr Clark said the pandemic has created a much-needed shift in a market that has become a little congested with speculative developers on projects that may or may not have come to fruition.
“It allowed everyone in the industry to review risks an introduce risk aversion strategies,” he said.
“What this means for apartment buyers is some developers may have reconsidered their position in terms of new project development, and off-the-plan deposits can now be redirected to solid operators such as Match, which has demonstrated time and again resilience in varying market conditions.”
Edge Visionary Living Managing Director Gavin Hawkins said the developer also witness a spike in enquiries as restrictions started to lift.
“We have seen a huge spike in enquiry as COVID-19 restrictions have eased, and especially following the new government incentive announcements,” he said.
“With equity markets now above where they were little more than 12 months ago, the initial fears have dissipated and buyer confidence within the sector is returning strongly.”
The apartment market had a big change-up in May of this year when new strata reforms came into place offering a variety of changes to how strata acts operate.
From 10-year maintenance plans, to minimum education for strata managers and a more efficient dispute resolution process, it was the largest shake up in decades and one Mr Hawkins said was a plus for buyers.
“It certainly allows for more flexibility in providing a co-ordinated, staged approach to developments,” he said.
“The key take-out, however, is providing more clarity and protections for the buyers which is obviously a good thing for both buyers and the sector.”
Mr Clark said many byers were unaware of recently available stamp duty rebates when buying an apartment.
“This will help purchasers buy into under-construction apartments, as well as pre-construction,” he said.
“This means purchasers can take advantage of the stamp duty rebates and other incentives and may not have to wait prolonged periods to move into an apartment.”
The value of apartments has remained relatively steady over the last ten years, falling just 0.7 per cent in Greater Perth over the period, according to REIWA data, with the median sale price for the year to March 2020 recorded at $378,000. The median unit rental price for March was $340.
The suburb of Perth recorded the most unit sales in the year to March, with 264, closely followed by East Perth (245). Near city suburbs Scarborough (210), South Perth (209) and Maylands (180) rounded out the top 5.
Outer-ring suburbs Rockingham and Mandurah also saw high levels of activity, with 115 and 108 sales respectively.
In terms of sales value, only two sub-regional markets saw an increase over the year to March, with the Perth South West market realising an increase of 2.6 per cent and Mandurah boasting a massive increase of 17.3 per cent.
South Perth witness the biggest apartment sale price of $7,150,000in the year to March while Dalkeith the lower quartile, median and higher quartile sales were all in the million dollar range, with the wealthy suburb recording and 37.3 per cent spike in prices for the year to March. The opposite was true in Crawley which witnessed an equal fall over the period.
Excerpt from The West Australian Property Report, 20 June 2020
Can isolation inoculation hold for apartments?Read more
Prices and sales of apartments are stable, but developers are calling for more stamp duty reform.
Western Australia’s property developers hope the physical isolation that has helped mitigate the worst of COVID-19 in this state will also insulate the local apartment market from a contagion of a different kind.
While sales of off-the-plan apartments on the east coast are reportedly down 15 per cent or more in recent weeks, that trend is yet to fully materialise in Perth, at least anecdotally.
Apartments in central Perth have remained relatively resilient during the past three years in terms of maintaining their resale values, according to research analysts PropertyESP.
Director Samantha Reece said this resilience, paired with Perth’s location, had so far buffered the market from the economic fallout of COVID-19.
“For the first time in history we are actually glad that we’re isolated,” Ms Reece told Business News.
“While there will be some national companies that feel the effect from the east coast – there is a bit more of a lag happening there than here – those companies based in WA, I believe, will actually continue on business as usual.”
That appears to be the case for Subiaco-based Stirling Capital, which recently achieved practical completion at its 26 on Charles mixed-use development in South Perth.
Stirling Capital sales and marketing director Daniel-Paul Filippi said just a small number of the 28 boutique apartments and four levels of commercial office space remained for sale.
“In terms of valuations, we’ve had zero impact,” Mr Filippi told Business News.
“I’ve had all the major valuers through our Charles Street project and we’ve had no problem.
“People are waiting to see if there’s going to be those sorts of big drops that have been reported [on the east coast]. We didn’t have a lot of foreign buyers anyway, so I don’t see as much impact.”
Mr Filippi said the market’s saving grace could be the resources sector, as one of the key drivers of the state’s economic activity.
“The fact is, WA is still ticking along, so everything is indicating that maybe WA and Darwin will be the least affected by all of this,” he said.
M/Group managing director Lloyd Clark said there had been less disruption on projects than initially anticipated, with inquiries returning just as quickly as Perth moved through the easing of restrictions. Mr Clark said inquiries had also tended to be more qualified and ready to buy.
Given that market confidence, the group is pushing ahead with plans to start construction on its M/27 apartment development in Fremantle.
“In terms of valuation, Perth is in a unique position comparative to the rest of Australia,” Mr Clark said.
“Our property values were already at the lower end of the property cycle, and apartment prices currently represent excellent value for money.
“While the fallout of the pandemic might create value variances in other states, I believe it is unlikely in Perth.
“In light of the activity over the last few months, I would expect to see apartment prices on our projects hold as the market restabilises and returns to growth in 2021.”
M/Group is progressing plans to start construction on its M/27 40-apartment development in Fremantle.
Apartment developer Paul Blackburne is also expecting prices to remain steady, and said COVID-19 had not yet affected sales, with most of his apartment stock already sold.
Blackburne’s Marina East development, located in Ascot Waters, finished construction in May with 80 per cent of apartments sold.
“The past 12 months have been our highest-selling year on record with $203 million in sales in just the first nine months,” Mr Blackburne told Business News.
“Now that things are opening up more and the major threat of the crisis is most likely over, people have started buying in larger volumes.
“Prices had gone up for four months in a row. The next year would have seen 3 to 5 per cent growth.”
Outlook Data compiled by real estate services firm JLL revealed that apartment sales in the inner city were down 3.9 per cent in the 12 months to the fourth quarter of 2019.
However, apartment sales activity was up 12.5 per cent in the fourth quarter on the preceding three months.
JLL manager of strategic research Ronak Bhimjiani said this had most likely been fuelled by the 75 per cent stamp duty rebate on off-the-plan purchases.
Additionally, Mr Bhimjiani said apartment values increased by 1.7 per cent in Perth between November 2019 and February 2020, a figure not seen since mid-2013 during the peak of the resources boom.
“The long-awaited recovery in Perth’s apartment market is likely to be delayed, as COVID-19 keeps conditions challenging in the short term,” he said.
“However, it is important to note that current economic and property market data does not yet fully capture the full impact of COVID-19.”
Any anticipated drop in demand could be partially offset by supply, with construction expected to cool off beyond 2020.
Mr Bhimjiani said there were about 380 apartments across a handful of smaller boutique developments likely to be completed in 2021.
Meanwhile, for larger developments previously set for 2021 completion, he said project timelines had been pushed out to 2022, with further economic uncertainty potentially limiting new starts.
“Many of these projects that are in the early stages of marketing or at the development approval stage could slip into later years or be abandoned if sufficient pre-sales are not achieved and economic conditions do not improve,” Mr Bhimjiani said.
“The impact on pricing will ultimately be dependent on the supply versus demand dynamics in the Perth apartment market.”
Finbar managing director Darren Pateman said stamp duty relief would be the best way to boast sales and development activity.
The ASX-listed property development company recently announced it had completed construction of its One Kennedy Maylands project, with sales of $23.5 million secured to date, representing 43 per cent of apartments.
Mr Pateman said there hadn’t been any immediate shift in apartment values, with all recent Finbar contracts at pre-COVID-19 pricing.
“The Perth market was already at one of its most affordable levels pre-COVID, in contrast perhaps to eastern states markets, which were experiencing far higher levels of growth,” Mr Pateman told Business News.
“WA has done it tough for near on five years and pre-COVID we were clearly entering a recovery phase, while eastern states markets have been boiling over for some time.
“Extending the stamp duty rebate beyond off-the-plan sales to projects under construction and new completed stock to encourage commencements will allow vital capital to be redirected to new job creating projects for thousands of Western Australians.”
Mr Pateman said this would help revive the WA economy as it moved into the recovery phase post COVID-19.
Mr Blackburne shared similar thoughts and said further stamp duty reform could also lead to long-term reductions in local council rates, with the greater rates flowing from higher-density developments better supporting council operations and budgets.
Mr Clark agreed and said the role of government was critical to maintaining buyer confidence, which could be achieved by additional stamp duty relief by way of rebate or discount.
“This is about keeping the market moving in the right direction and buyer incentives are proven and successful in this space,” he said.
“Government and industry alike have a significant role to play here.”
Business News – Katie McDonald, Thursday, 4 June, 2020
Subiaco offices at unrepeatable valueRead more
Why rent when it’s cheaper to buy, says Amanda Spagnolo, who is selling two new offices at 217 Hay Street, Subiaco. “It is remarkable value for prime commercial real estate,” Amanda, project sales manager at M/Property, said.
They are the last remaining offices in the Rhythm by Match building, which has a total of 27 commercial offices and 9 apartments. Priced from $285,000 plus GST, No.11 is 75sq.m and comes with a car bay. No.18 is slightly bigger and has two bays. The 87sq.m office is on the market from $335,000 plus GST. “They are being offered at well below replacement value, creating an incredible opportunity for the future,” Amanda said. “Both have never been occupied so are brand new ready to fit out as desired.”
Other tenants in the building include a newsagent with a licensed post office, accountant, life coach, real estate agent and a beauty salon. The architect-designed building stands out from other commercial offices in the strip because of its timber-cladded façade. At its centre is a patterned, perforated screen that provides natural light into the common areas. For more details, phone Amanda on 0432 660 066 or email@example.com
While REIWA reported its September Quarter vacancy rate at an encouraging 2.9%, the stats drawn from apartment property management specialists, M/Property, were even lower at 1.97%. As experts in this sector, they believe there is always scope to improve the occupancy and profitability of an investment property.
M/Property is one of the only specialist apartment management and leasing companies in the State. With a dedicated leasing team and over 18 years’ experience in apartment management, the company manages over 600 apartments at any one time.
M/Property Senior Property Manager, Tammy Smith, says that even though the vacancy rate is low in WA, Perth apartment investors can still miss out on valuable and quality tenancies simply by not understanding what is important to the renter.
“We are experiencing a market shift in Western Australia towards long-term renting as a lifestyle choice. This represents an incredible opportunity for property investors,” she said.
“Unlike conventional homes where size and space are often the important factor, when it comes to apartments, location, presentation and flexibility are paramount to both the existing and emerging apartment rental market.”
Tammy says apartments close to community infrastructure, those with access to great facilities and ones outlooks tend to get snapped up, there are a range of other factors that a property investor can control to attract and retain great tenants.
- Sell the dream with professional photography
Rental properties traditionally don’t get the same promotional treatment as homes available for sale. However, in a competitive market, owners will get more interest and potentially higher rentals if they ‘sell the dream’ with professional photography during the marketing phase.
- Add value with furniture
While not for everyone, adding a furniture package to the mix can significantly increase the rental return. A well-furnished apartment can rent out for 25%-75% more than unfurnished apartments. The cost of furniture is also often tax deductable.
- Be flexible with pets
Pet-friendly apartments are increasing in demand as more renters opt for making their apartment a long-term home. In fact, many States across Australia are changing legislation to make it easier for pet ownership in rental properties. Why not get ahead of the game to lock good tenants in early.
- Engage an approachable team
There is nothing more off-putting to a renter than being made to feel like a second-rate citizen. Ensure your property management team are approachable and responsive to not only the renters’ concerns, but also yours.
Tammy says a property management team with a sound knowledge of strata management is also imperative for apartment investors, together with a good relationship with building/facility managers and a solid database of good tenants to source the best tenant for the apartment.
For more information on M/Property services visit www.mproperty.com.au.