How Melbourne developer Assemble is changing the game for first home buyers

Assemble’s Build to Rent to Own (BTRTO) housing model is delivered through Assemble Futures.

How Melbourne developer Assemble is changing the game for first home buyers
Ground floor with pocket park, hospitability space and multipurpose room at 15 Thompsons St. Image supplied.

"How are we going to be able to afford property?"

That's the disgruntled question often muttered when first home buyers start looking at getting on the property ladder.

Runaway property prices have seen young prospective buyers either compromise on a number of factors of a purchase, whether it be location or number of bedrooms, when buying their first apartment. Some will stay living with their parents, and some will turn to renting.

One of Melbourne's most innovative developers, the affordability-conscious Assemble, has a unique model which has already helped many young Australian's get in to the property market.

Rather than the traditional build to sell (we develop, you buy) model, which has out-priced many, their Build to Rent to Own offering (known as Assemble Futures) allows prospective buyers to rent apartments, with a free option to buy, after five years.  

What are Build to Rent to Own communities and how do they work? 

Assemble began with Assemble Futures, previously known as the Assemble Model, offering an alternate pathway to home ownership, enabling residents to rent securely for five years, with the option to buy their home at the end of the lease period.

In June 2020, Australia’s largest superannuation fund, AustralianSuper invested into the company, with a focus on supporting the expansion of the Assemble Futures model to help address housing affordability and create better access to homeownership.

"Assemble​ Futures supports first home buyers into homeownership by enabling them to move in and experience their home and community for five years, while saving for a deposit to buy it," Assemble's​ director of marketing and relationships, Rebecca Shackleton, told Urban.

"It protects them from shifts in the property market as they lock in the future purchase price of their home, and leases are renewed every 12 months, so if life takes them elsewhere, they have the flexibility to leave after the first 12 months."

The hybrid Build to Rent model offers stable rents, certainty of tenure, financial coaching, and community services, giving residents the option to purchase after a five-year lease period at a pre-agreed price.

This pricing stability creates a pathway to homeownership that supports Australians with a moderate income, as defined by the Victorian State Government.

Assemble's ambition is to challenge Australia's unfair housing system, with a focus on developing pathways into high quality, sustainable, stable housing. 

“With a deep respect for people, place, and planet, we deliver housing and create communities that embrace diversity, reflect local culture, and nurture a stronger sense of ownership and belonging,” Shackleton said.

Assemble, starts construction on its newest Build to Rent to Own development, 15 Thompson St, Kensington, this month. 

MAKE - Assemble's parent company, spent $30 million on the site, which is the third project by the group in the inner Melbourne suburb.

Construction firm, Hacer Group has been awarded the contract to deliver the Kensington project valued at $190m, designed by Hayball with landscaping by Oculus.

Assemble Managing Director, Kris Daff said support by the Government, planning authorities and AustralianSuper, demonstrates confidence in offering Australian’s alternative pathways into home ownership.

“Kensington is a highly prized inner-city location, and this approval unlocks access to design-driven, sustainable and community-oriented apartment living for Melbournians,” said Daff.

 Earlier this year Assemble secured rezoning of two prime industrial sites in Clayton and in East BENTLEIGH for future residential development.

Daff said it was a strong move that ensures Victorians will have an appropriate supply of social and affordable housing to meet the critical shortfall.

"We are now a step closer to delivering over 1,600 social and affordable housing units, along with much needed health, commercial and retail outcomes, for the broad Glen Eira and Monash communities," Daff says.

Apartments in 15 Thompson St - 15 Thompson Street, Kensington

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Alison Warters

Alison Warters

Alison Warters is a property journalist for Urban, based in Sydney. Alison is especially interested in the evolution of the New Build/Development space, when it comes to design innovation and sustainability.

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