Townhouses becoming the housing sweet spot

Townhouses becoming the housing sweet spot
Townhouses becoming the housing sweet spot

The townhouse was long viewed as lesser property choice.

But townhouses in our inner and middle ring suburbs are now categorised as a smart lifestyle choice and making good investments.

They fall between the increasingly prevalent high rise apartments and detached homes on the larger land holding.

Townhouses are the increasing the preferred accommodation for a several competing demographic groups, struggling between the choice of freestanding and high rise.

There was an extraordinary result last weekend when the Glebe townhouse of ABC television personality Leigh Sales went to auction.

It secured $1,705,000 when auctioned by BresicWhitney agent Andrew Liddell.

The Jarocin Avenue property first sold in 1996 for $420,000, reflecting 7.5% annual growth over the near two decade period.

The two level corner property, with two car spaces, last sold in 2009 at $955,000, so the price reflected 9% annual growth over their six years. There had been no sales in the tightly held complex of 10 in the interim.

Leigh Sales, the 7.30 presenter, and her husband, animator Phil Willis, had hoped their townhouse would fetch more than $1.3 million, with plans to upsize to something nearby with more space for their now family of four. 

It sold to unit dwellers from Pyrmont seeking a new home for their young family.

The property attracted 10 registered bidders with around six putting their hands up throughout the auction. 

Many attendees walked away shaking their heads, the price of the 196 sqm townhouse pushed well beyond all expectations given the diversity of the buyers.

There were numerous kinds of buyers in the crowd - the most obvious the family with children at one of the nearby tertiary education campuses. The kids want to move closer to the city, and so too did the parents, so this place was perfect. 

Baby boomer empty nesters looking to downsize were keen bidders. There were those seeking the courtyard space for gardening, or their pet or just for the joy of outdoor space.

Buyers priced out of existing detached homes.

Investors too who viewed the townhouse as a solid low maintenance investments within walking distance to shops, transport and restaurants, all highly sort after by tenants.

There no doubt were also been apartment weary investors.

Townhouses are appealing not just for affordability, amenity and liveability.

There is a sense of individuality about a townhouse that you don't get from high rise apartments.

These properties also have good underpinning land value, as this townhouse sits on a 1500 sqm block of land, yet only has 10 abodes on the block.

The nationwide trend sees the proportion of people living in detached houses falling. Down by one percentage point between 2006 and 2011, with a shift towards more people living in units and townhouses, according to latest ABS census data. 

Of Australia's private dwellings, 75.6% were separate houses, compared with 76.6% in the 2006 census. Meanwhile the number of semi-detached, terraced house or townhouse rose from 9.2% to 9.9%.

Flats too rose from 13.1% of dwellings to 13.6%, and will no doubt show a bigger rise in the next census, I suspect because the development industry sees greater gains from apartment construction, rather than the more costly townhouse option.

In the 2011 NSW census data, some 69.5% were separate houses, 10.7% were semi-detached, row or terrace houses and townhouses with a rising rampant 18.8% were flats.

Sadly there just isn't the required diversity of product in new Sydney housing developments, which ends up placing higher price pressures on what's fast becoming the townhouse sweet spot. 

This article was first published in the Saturday Daily Telegraph.

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