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
Kiarna’s New Lease for City Apartment InvestorsRead more
It’s fair to say that apartments are unlike any investment product on the market. There are considerations and strata regulations that require a different approach in order to fully maximise investor returns.
Kiarna Blythman knows too well about the subtle nuances that put apartments in a category of their own.
This is why, after eight years’ experience across all aspects of property leasing and management, Kiarna has joined M/Property as its Business Development Manager. She has assumed the role with a keen interest in demonstrating the value of specialist apartment management to rural owners of city apartments.
“Trusting your investment apartment to someone who only deals with stand-alone houses is like sending your boat to a car mechanic,” Kiarna said.
“There is no question that an apartment investment offers great benefits to those looking for a low-maintenance foothold in the urban marketplace, but there are definitely aspects where it is advantageous to have someone on the ground with knowledge of strata legislation, maintenance requirements and tenant selection tactics.
“M/Property only deals with apartment leases. It seemed a perfect fit for my scope of experience.”
Kiarna has held both ground-floor to senior positions in property sales and leasing, including Sales Administration, Strata Assistance to Property Manager and Leasing Manager.
She joins a highly experienced team of property experts and is backed by the expertise and resources of M/Group; a company that cut its teeth on apartment developments.
M/Group Managing Director, Mr Lloyd Clark, said the introduction of a property management firm to work exclusively in apartment leasing and management was done to fill a gap in the market.
“As a company, our vision has always been to provide our clients with a holistic experience, and we recognised early that engaging a standard property management business to assist our apartment investors did not provide an ideal outcome,” he said.
“Since we launched M/Property, we have grown to become one of Perth’s largest apartment management companies and have helped hundreds of investors through complex apartment and strata issues.
“Our extensive database of prospective tenants can be effectively matched with a depth of knowledge on most apartments complexes across the Perth CBD, Fremantle and surrounding suburbs.
”Kiarna is a welcome addition to our team and is available to provide more detail about our services and offer to anyone looking to upgrade their current management arrangement.”
For more information or to make an appointment with Kiarna, please contact 0499 909 116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Improve the Occupancy and Profitability of an Investment PropertyRead more
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.
Apartment Living and Today’s MarketRead more
Where would you say Western Australia’s unit living/apartment market is currently at?
The property market in general is cyclical. It follows a bell-curve pattern that sees prices peak at the top of the market and level out at the bottom. Investors and market commentators monitor this process carefully to maximise investment potential before an upwards shift occurs. The apartment market is not immune to this cycle and we are currently experiencing a lot of movement from investors. This signals that we might have hit the bottom of the cycle, but also that an expected upturn is likely to take place due to our strengthening economy and record low interest rates.
All this aside, most know that the enduring nature of property means that if you tick the boxes of location, limited supply, quality build and unique design, apartments are likely to hold their value for the long term – regardless of market factors.
Do you think more people are moving into and living in apartments than say, 10 years ago? What traits about apartment living do you think have contributed to this?
When Match started building apartments almost two decades ago, we were conscious of a global shift towards apartment living. There were certainly sceptics that believed Perth would always favour the house and land ‘dream’, but we weren’t so sure. Fast forward eighteen years and our predictions have all come true. There is a definitive lean towards apartment living and awareness of the economic and environmental aspects associated with continuing the urban sprawl. Many are trading that plot of land on the outskirts of the city for lifestyle and location. Apartment living just makes more sense.
What kind of demographic of people are living in apartments in 2019? Is there a mixed variety?
The range of people being attracted to the apartment lifestyle is now as diverse as their reasons for doing so. We see young and upwardly mobile singles and couples wanting to make the most of their proximity to cafes, CBD and nightlife, and we’re also seeing families preferring to raise their children close to the beach rather than in the thick of suburbia. Perhaps the most exciting market group are the downsizers, who are all about creating an idyllic and ‘low maintenance’ lifestyle without moving too far from their families or where they have lived for most of their life.
What future do you see ahead for Western Australia’s apartment market? Do you think it’ll continue to grow, and why is this?
The underlying factors that will continue to support the apartment market include population growth and an increasing market trend towards apartment living. The value-system of the emerging generations will be key for driving demand for new and architecturally appealing apartment designs. As more people gravitate towards apartment living, we will see an increase of amazing spaces. This represents incredibly exciting prospects for individuals as well as the Perth streetscape alike.
We’ve come a long way since the ‘cookie-cutter’ apartment blocks that were primarily built for the investor and rental market. Apartments today are considered architectural spaces that focus on the end user and their varying tastes and preferences.
Just as you would have earlier discerned over the features of a stand-alone house, we are now finding that people are drawn to apartment designs that reflect their personal taste and lifestyle preferences.
The more distinctive, rare and well-located the apartment is, the more value you are intrinsically buying into.
Comments by Lloyd Clark, Managing Director of Match parent company M/Group
Trading a 4×2 for the World’s Biggest Swimming PoolRead more
Barry and Jennie had watched their children grow up in their 4×2 Bullcreek home. However, like many others throughout Perth, they decided to trade their big family home for an apartment and chose Form by Match at Port Coogee – an area Barry tells his grandson has the ‘biggest swimming pool called the Indian Ocean’.
Prior to making the move, the couple knew they wanted to stay near Fremantle, although were a little unsure about such a big change.
“We came out and had a look at this site five times. We went to other apartments in the same precinct, but wanted a plan that was quite straight forward with an outlook. We didn’t want to feel claustrophobic,” Barry said.
“What sold us on this place particularly was the position – we’re not over-looked and we’ve got views across the park and the sea – we didn’t actually realise we had sea views until we were about to move in. I think that was the clincher for me.”
The couple moved into one of the many north facing apartments at Form by Match; a boutique 50-apartment complex located just 50metres from Port Coogee Marina and adjacent to parkland.
Designed by reputed Architects, Geoff Warn of Donaldson & Warn, the property was designed to respond to the environment and offer residents an uncompromising lifestyle.
It features a bright, white and timeless interior colour scheme, air conditioning, polished reconstituted stone benchtops and Bosch appliances with breakfast bar.
“I think there are an awful lot of people who live here that have made the same lifestyle change. You can be at the beach and then somebody says, “oh this is so good” and I say, ”yes it is isn’t it”, and then you find out that they’ve done the same thing as you by downsizing and moving here,” Barry continued.
“They often say they’ve bought bikes and like that there are bikeways all the way down to Jervoise Bay, as well as being able to walk into Fremantle. We’ve joined the North Coogee Surf Life Saving Club as social members. It’s got restaurant, bar and music on Sundays, and just up the road in Spearwood there’s the Phoenix Park Shopping Centre and a few other little places we regularly go out to eat. We also go into Fremantle quite a lot.”
“We’ve been told that Coogee Beach was named the second-best beach in Western Australia, and we believe that too because it has so much to go and do; scuba diving, snorkeling and families with their children swimming. No matter what time you go there’s people on the beach, even at eight o’clock at night.”
“(The grandchildren) absolutely love coming down here. They get their ball out and play soccer with their poppy down in the park or they’re down at the beach digging and playing.”
Construction on Form by Match was completed late last year by Match’s in-house construction company, M/Construction, which meant they could achieve a high level of quality control throughout the building process. The project sold over 50% of the apartments prior to completion and is now ‘move in ready’.
“I sat down the with Jennie the other morning and said that I feel so guilty that I haven’t got any gardening to do,” Barry said.
“We sit on the balcony and eat our meals and we just watch the world go by. Neither of us have actually regretted or felt a loss for our last place. We’ve looked forward to moving here and haven’t looked back.”
Form by Match apartments are available in one, two and three-bedroom layouts and are priced from $335,000, $449,000 and $749,000 respectively.
For more information visit www.formbymatch.com.au or call 0432 660 066.