"Buying off the plan is almost becoming more akin to a process of building your own home" says Lowe Group's Tim Lowe

"Buying off the plan is almost becoming more akin to a process of building your own home" says Lowe Group's Tim Lowe

As property trends shift and evolve, it's important for developers to constantly keep up with what buyers want. Lowe Group Managing Director Tim Lowe had a chat to Urban.com.au about the buyer requests of 2019, and more specifically, how the concept of "off-the-plan" is shifting to another form of "building your own home" thanks to the response to customer demand for customisation.

Urban.com.au: Given the success of Lumiere Black Rock’s record sales, what do you believe were the stand out features which set the development apart from other properties within the Black Rock area?

Tim Lowe: The contemporary nature of architecture and our partnership with the internationally renowned design partner, Warren and Mahoney, allowed us to create a building that had a rich story behind it whilst also being contemporary and fitting with the area. Further to that, the features being the offering, single-level two and three bedroom apartments with large outdoor areas. Whereas Black Rock is typically renowned for two-level townhouses and large single homes. So it gave an additional opportunity for our downsizer demographic.

One of Lumiere's expansive outdoor courtyards. Image credit: Lowe Group
One of Lumiere's expansive outdoor courtyards. image credit: Lowe Group

U: How do you go about discovering what buyers want in an apartment? What kind of research is involved?

TL: We can confidently say we have a clear understanding of our demographic (downsizer). Firstly, we assess the market by understanding our buyer is a downsizer and they would be looking for an apartment that does allow them to release some equity from their existing home. Therefore we are very considerate about price point and providing varying floorplan considerations, for example at Lumiere we offered 6 unique floorplans each one tailored to suit different buyers and financial provision. Lowe Living also has a rich history working with this demographic and we frequently engage with our clients across all our projects to get feedback, in particular from our customisation/personalisation services, to ensure the next projects include the items they’re typically requesting.

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U: In what ways have apartment characteristics and features changed, and how much of that is influenced by economic, societal and environmental factors?

TL: In the areas in which we play (broader Melbourne, in particular, Bayside), apartments were typically tailored to the first home buyer and investor with limited amounts of amenity and lifestyle. Now we are tending to find that because of that ageing demographic and the capital growth that people have seen in our areas with their existing home, we are finding a more considered buyer who is more particular on quality of amenity (larger master suites, walk-in robes, home-style kitchens, fireplaces, sense of entry), access to ground floor, private open space and high-quality finishes and finishes. Our demographic is also taking the opportunity to move closer to the epicentre of the community with easy access to local shops and cafes/restaurants.

Living area in one of the Lumiere residences. Image credit: Lowe Group
Living area in one of the Lumiere residences. image credit: Lowe Group

U: In your opinion, which design choices and additional features add the most value to a development?

TL: Firstly, the uniqueness of the project design. For our buyer, key design choices include flexibility of living spaces and be able to cater for large family gatherings on an infrequent basis. We ensure the areas that are most frequently used within the apartment – kitchen, master suite, living and dining – assimilate the level of amenity that they’re accustomed to in their larger homes but providing a more functional and effective floorplan. We also make a lot of considerations around the key fundamentals of a home, including a sense of entry and segregation of spaces within an apartment such as having privacy to your master bedroom (leading off a hallway). The building's geometry is also very important, where we consider liveability within the design, offering less reliance on systems with the prospect of natural air flow and solar in the Winter. Whilst also leverage off our Bayside location by using neutral tones and giving great consideration to bright spaces, with low maintenance material selection.

Modern kitchens with high end appliances and bespoke cabinetry.  Image credit: Lowe Group
Modern kitchens with high-end appliances and bespoke cabinetry. image credit: Lowe Group

U: Do you ever experience buyers making customisation requests prior to construction? 

TL: This part of our Lowe Living offering, where we engage closely with our buyer to ensure they understand the particulars of their future home and allow them to personalise their home prior to construction. We promote them to consider how the space can work for them and ensure the space is how they envisioned when we deliver the final product. We are conscious of our client’s unique individual preferences, in terms of how they like to live within their home. We also offer a professional service from the Managing Director through to the Project Architect to ensure every detail is covered. We find all our clients engage in this service before construction and this is evident across all our projects to date.

U: What are the key design trends of 2019 you've found to be the most popular among buyers of your developments?

TL: Personalisation and a strong focus on Client Services (customer services), first and foremost. 2019 has seen a more astute and considered buyer enter the market, as the dynamic of the market has changed. Our buyers are expecting more engagement with the product and a better level of customer service. buying off the plan is almost becoming more akin to a process of building your own home, where buyers want to be involved throughout the entire process including frequent inspections and being kept up to date with progress and activity. We have responded to this market with a dedicated Client Services team, where our client is at the forefront of our business.

Olivia Round

Olivia Round

Olivia Round is the Features Editor of urban.com.au. Olivia specialises in news reporting, in-depth editorial content and video + podcast interviews with industry experts.

Lowe Group Lumiere Black Rock


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