Leonard Teplin discusses what's next for Melbourne's property market in 2018

Leonard Teplin discusses what's next for Melbourne's property market in 2018
Laurence DragomirJanuary 30, 2018

Melbourne's off-the-plan apartment market was put to the test last year with July 1 heralding the end of off-the-plan stamp duty savings for investors, with the concession instead redirected towards first home buyers. Additionally, investors were slugged with a tax on vacant properties, while developers were limited to 50% of sales to foreign buyers.

This, combined with tightened lending conditions, raised significant concerns among industry professionals, with many predicting a severe slow-down in off-the-plan sales and even more competition focused at traditional homes, driving prices even further out of reach.

Six months on, Marshall White Projects has instead seen an increase in sales and some unexpectedly positive consequences of the July 1 changes, which include:

  • Sales in the local market have increased by almost 40% (39.3%)
  • Total (local and foreign) sales have increased by a similar amount, 38.7%
  • The average sale price has only marginally increased to $885,106 (up 1.9%)
  • The number of empty nesters, or those looking to spend in excess of $1.5 M for an off the plan purchase of an apartment or townhouse, has increased by 28%

Urban.com.au asked Marshall White Director Leonard Teplin for further insight into specific factors that have had an effect on the apartment market in the last six months.

According to Teplin, 2017 was the year of the downsizer, with a growing acceptance of apartment living in Australia resulting in less reliance on foreign investment. 

Looking ahead to 2018, Teplin notes developers will need to continue to evolve their strategy to accommodate growing demand for off-the-plan.

Urban.com.au: In this new climate, in your opinion what criteria is necessary to ensure a successful project?

Leonard Teplin: In a sea of competition, each developer needs to consider “what’s my point of difference?”

Location is and will always be key – purchasers want to be close to public transport, main roads, shops, parks and within a good school zone.

Beyond that, a successful project today needs to be focused on quality design. Abundant natural light in all rooms, efficient use of space and high-quality fittings and fixtures are essential in this new era. Purchasers will be drawn to projects designed by well-known and trusted architects, that stand apart from every other project on the street.

UM: What have been the most successful projects that Marshall White have been involved in in the past 6 months?

LT: A recent boutique development, Oakdon on Scott Grove in Glen Iris sold 31 penthouse-sized luxury apartments in just six weeks at an average rate of $11,300 per sqm. Designed by Conrad Architects with a prime position on the corner of High Street, it was incredibly popular with local owner-occupiers, especially downsizers.

Another highly successful development was Ashton Park at 338 Burwood Hwy, Burwood which saw 20 townhomes priced from $945,000 to $1,049,5000 sold in two stages of three weeks each.

Leonard Teplin discusses what's next for Melbourne's property market in 2018
Oakdon, Glen Iris and Ashton Park, Burwood were recent successes for Marshall White. Images : Marshall White Projects

UM: There has been a trend of investor-driven stock particularly in the CBD and Southbank. Do you expect there will be a shift in these areas to more owner-occupier product such as 35 Spring Street, 85 Spring Street and Collins Arch for example?

LT: While these aren’t areas Marshall White works within, there does certainly seem to be a trend emerging that indicates that’s the case.

UM: Do you believe this shift to the down-sizer is a correction i.e. balancing the market out or is it cyclical with investment apartments set to make a comeback at some point?

LT: The shift to down-sizers is due to a variety of factors, not just limited to the recent drop in investor activity. While 2017 did see an unprecedented increase in down-sizer buyers, these changes have been many years in the making as apartments lose their reputation as ‘dog-boxes’ and start to become synonymous with luxury living. This kind of shift isn’t cyclical, but rather evidence of a long-term change in the way people are perceiving off-the-plan apartments in general.

Given the demand for high-quality apartments, not just from down-sizers but well-off young professionals and families – even the investors who are still in the market are keen to secure a quality apartment that will appeal to families and rent well into the future - it seems unlikely developers will make another pivot and return to building smaller investor-style stock anytime soon.

UM: Part of the decrease in the demand for investment apartment sales has been the stricter foreign lending criteria and changes in stamp duty. Do you believe developers need to reconsider how this type of apartment is designed and marketed? And do you think the new Better Apartment Standards have a role in making them a more attractive proposition to potential buyers?

LT: The Better Apartment Standards indicate a bare minimum requirement for apartments, any developer wanting to succeed in Melbourne’s competitive landscape will need to be creating well above the bare minimum.

The demand for the investor-style stock is too small and too subject to market conditions to be a focus for developers in 2018 and beyond. It was our experience that many if not all of the top tier and quality boutique developers were already developing projects that exceeded these standards well before they took effect.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

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