First-home buyers urged to demand more livable apartments, as rising prices push many out of market for standalone houses

With rapidly rising property prices making apartments the only option for many first-home buyers in Canberra, housing advocates say potential owners should be demanding better quality and liveability from new residential developments.

Key points:Canberra's housing market is increasingly pushing first-home buyers out of the market for standalone housesArchitects and housing advocates are encouraging buyers to demand better quality from new apartment buildings, in order to have more 'livability'Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis says demand for apartments didn't slow during the ACT's second lockown, and warned that next year may see demand grow even more

Canberra recorded the highest residential property price increase of any Australian capital city in the June quarter of this year, up 8.2 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The median dwelling value in Canberra is now more than $816,000– second only to Sydney.

Canberra developer Geocon has just turned the sod on the WOVA residential development in Woden.

The company's managing director, Nick Georgalis, said the lockdown sparked by the Delta outbreak in the ACT had a negative impact on almost every aspect of the building industry, except one.

"One of the things [the lockdown] didn't affect was sales," Mr Georgalis said.

"Our sales went through the roof, albeit we weren't able to settle property there for a couple of weeks putting people in a very distressing position."

And with detached residential houses in the ACT now often selling for more than $1 million, apartments may increasingly be the only option for young families looking to get into the property market.

'Demand better from our buildings'

A woman stands in a courtyard in front of a home.
Australian Institute of Architects president Shannon Battisson says homes are more than just a place to rest your head.(ABC News: David Sciasci)

Architects Institute of Australia president Shannon Battisson argues the ACT government has been moving in the right direction when it comes to ensuring new developments are more liveable, but she said potential buyers should demand better amenities.

"We need to see better quality buildings across the board and apartments are absolutely no different," Ms Battisson said.

"I think it comes down to us as people though – people buying apartments to really demand better from our buildings.

"I think we will see more and more people in a very different demographic live and raise families in apartments.

"I think it becomes really important to make sure that we're building apartments that are of a quality that create a happy, healthy space."

Ms Battisson emphasised the importance of a well-built home for Canberrans, especially families.

"I think the most important thing to any home would be natural light and natural ventilation, and the ability to face a house the right way – be that a stand-alone dwelling, a townhouse or an apartment – is vital in our climate," she said.

"When it comes to families specifically, I think it's the ability to have different spaces within an apartment, building, or a house.

"It's really important to have quality spaces that are outside and have a meaningful and enriching environment for families to enjoy, for children to play and for people to gather in."

Property demand bigger than just quality

A close up of apartment balconies.
Housing experts say potential apartment buyers need to vote with their wallets.(ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)

When it comes to affordability, Master Builders ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said it would take more than just better quality homes to meet demand.

"It's going to take apartments, single houses, dual occupancies, large and small and a range of different price points to meet our future housing needs going forward," Mr Hopkins said.

"That's why it's important for the ACT government to continue its commitment to affordable housing, to speed up land release and to target some of its subsidies toward community housing providers."

Meanwhile, Geocon's Mr Georgalis is warning that he expected demand to only increase next year.

"Apartments next year are going to be more challenging for the first-home buyer," Mr Georgalis said.

"An influx of international students, immigration coming back and a grossly under-supplied market today, really sets the tone of what's going to come."

Posted 8 Nov 20218 Nov 2021Mon 8 Nov 2021 at 8:00pm, updated 8 Nov 20218 Nov 2021Mon 8 Nov 2021 at 8:03pmShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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