If the great Australian dream is a house on a quarter-acre block, what is an apartment? A home with no character or vision? Or is it a chance to make your money go further without compromising on lifestyle and amenity?
While there will always be staunch advocates for the dream house, there is a growing groundswell of Sydneysiders who no longer consider that you’re selling out or missing out by choosing to live in an apartment.
That said, it is absolutely true that not all apartments are the same. Some are four walls and little else. Some give no thought to community and what residents might need to live a happy, connected life. But for those that do consider all that makes life fulfilling, it is anything but a ‘compromise’.
Quality inside and out?
As apartment living becomes more commonplace, so too does the option to buy in high end developments where the quality of what is offered outside your front door is given as much thought as what you get inside. However, if you’re buying ‘off the plan’ and your apartment – and the lifestyle you hope surrounds it – doesn’t exist yet, doing your homework is critical. Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo, National Research Manager at PRDnationwide says the most important thing to research is the developer.
“You are buying into a dream / something abstract, so you really need to be able to trust the developer. Ensure they have an excellent reputation, a high track record of off the plan completions, and excellent customer service reputation.” Once you’re satisfied with the developer’s credentials, it’s important to find out all you can about the local property market conditions.
“Ensure that you know the local market – price trends, demographics of who typically lives there, rental yield and returns, and most importantly what other projects (residential, commercial, infrastructure, industrial) are planned over the next five years,” says Dr Mardiasmo.
Unless you’re a lottery winner, price is a key factor. You don’t need an expert to tell you that median house prices are higher than median apartment prices. However an expert can help you determine whether your potential purchase is a good investment.
At the end of March, CoreLogic data showed the median house value across the Hills Shire was $1,113,000 and the median unit value was $765,570. No surprises there. But, as Tim Lawless, Executive, Research Director Asia Pacific at CoreLogic explains, you need to consider how that value has changed and how it may change in the future.
“Over the past twelve months the median house value [in The Hills District] has fallen 12.7%, while the median unit value has reduced by 3.4%,” says Mr Lawless.
Although it represents a disappointing decrease for house owners, the figures highlight the consistent strength in the apartment market in The Hills Shire.
The power of connection
Sydney’s west has also benefited from the newly opened Sydney Metro which Mr Lawless says promises to substantially improve commuting times and congestion on the major transport routes.
“Buyers should look for projects that are strategically positioned close to transport options, essential amenities such as shopping, health care, schools and social opportunities,” advises Mr Lawless.
For a development like Esplanade Norwest, the Sydney Metro isn’t just a nice to have option that you still have to catch a bus or drive to, it’s right on the doorstep. Add to that a shopping centre, hospitals, restaurants and a growing community of residents to match the vibrant 9 to 5 Norwest culture and the local profile is an attractive proposition.
Value your investment
If that’s ‘liveability’ covered, what about the bricks and mortar and the amenities offered in the development itself?
The experts agree that your research should also take into consideration market trends with apartment size and whether the facilities offered can really enhance your life. “Three bedroom apartments have a lower average ‘days on the market’,” says Dr Mardiasmo. “And if we look at the capital growth over the past five years (2013–18), three bedroom apartments give you a higher capital growth of 43.3%. If we look at demand (i.e. number of sales) three bedroom apartments also recorded the lowest decline.”
Alongside a range of apartment types, Esplanade Norwest promises purchasers a resort-style life with private gardens, a swimming pool and residents club, gym, outdoor cinema, wine storage, secure bicycle storage, electric car charging bays and connected restaurant and café precinct.
With all this included in the purchase price, can an apartment in fact offer better value for money than a house?
Dr Mardiasmo says yes, it can, but you should do your own cost-benefit analysis to rate the strata fees against how often you will use these amenities.
“If you believe you will be using them heavily then there is a possibility that the benefit will outweigh the cost, so apartments with these offerings do offer better value for money than a house.
“These offerings can be extremely attractive to families and those that are environmentally conscious, as everything is in one place (thus easy to get to and less fuss with the children) and can reduce your carbon footprint as well as minimise fuel costs.” With that in mind – and developments like Esplanade raising the apartment living bar – perhaps it’s time for us all to rethink the great Australian dream.
About PRDnationwide Research
PRDnationwide’s national research team provides quality property, housing and (predominantly) residential market research to PRDnationwide’s network of franchises as well as government departments, private and non-private organisations and private investors. The team, led by Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo, has a high level understanding of public policy advocacy issues, strategic thinking, analytics and evaluation.
CoreLogic provides property information, analytics and services across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. With Australia’s most comprehensive property databases, the company’s combined data offering is derived from public, contributory and proprietary sources and includes over 500 million decision points spanning over three decades of collection, providing detailed coverage of property and other encumbrances such as tenancy, location, hazard risk and related performance information.
We are committed to protecting your privacy. When we request personal information, we will normally explain why we need it, how it will be used and who we may share it with. At all times we will comply with the terms of this when handling your personal information. This policy answers the following questions about privacy at Aoyuan International:
Why do we need your personal information?
Understanding and meeting our customers’ needs is a central part of our business. We do this by providing real estate and services under various brands that are offered by entities within Aoyuan International. To do this effectively, we need to collect certain personal information.
In this policy, personal information is any information that could identify you or be used to establish your identity.
We collect, hold, use and disclose customers’ personal information so we can establish, manage and administer the products and services provided by us, and comply with legal and regulatory obligations. We may also use and disclose your information for purposes related to those mentioned above, such as:
Will my personal information be used for direct marketing?
We use and disclose your personal information to keep you informed about the range of properties offered by us.
You can opt out of receiving direct marketing information from us at any time (see the section 'How can you contact us about privacy?').
What happens if I do not provide information that has been requested?
It's your choice whether to provide your personal information. However, if you don't, we might be unable to fulfil your request for specific information.
What types of personal information do we collect?
We may ask for a range of personal information to assist us in providing you with relevant enquiry or property purchase. The information we request could include (but is not limited to) name, address, date of birth, contact details.
How do we collect personal information?
Most of the personal information we collect will be directly from you. We gather this information either through forms that you complete and submit to us (in writing and digitally), by the information you provide via phone calls and interviews and through other forms of communication.
In some cases we might collect your personal information from external sources. Examples of the people or organisations that may provide us with information are:
Can you remain anonymous or use a pseudonym when dealing with us?
If you wish to remain anonymous or to use a pseudonym when dealing with us, we may be able to provide you with limited information or services. However in many cases it will not be possible for us to assist you with your specific needs if you wish to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym.
How do we protect your personal information?
Whether your personal information is gathered through face-to-face meetings or by interacting with us via telephone, mail, internet or other methods, we take steps to store your information securely. We hold your personal information in a combination of secure computer storage facilities, paper-based files and other formats.
We take a number of steps to protect personal information from misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification or improper disclosure. These include instructing our staff and advisers who handle personal information to respect the confidentiality of customer information and the privacy of individuals.
When we don’t need your personal information anymore we will delete, destroy or de-identify it.
Who do we share personal information with?
From time to time we may share your personal information with other entities both within and outside of Aoyuan International. The entities that we might share your personal information with vary according to the product or service involved, but could include:
Do we send personal information to overseas recipients?
Some of the entities that we share information with may be located in, or have operations in, other countries. This means that your information might end up stored or accessed in overseas countries, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Canada.
When we send your personal information to overseas recipients, we make sure appropriate data handling and security arrangements are in place.
How do we update your personal information?
We will update your personal information if you contact us. In most cases you can update your personal information over the phone, by email or via our website.
We may update your personal information if we believe the personal information we hold is incomplete or out of date, we could seek to correct or complete our records by gathering data from other sources such as public records and other organisations.
How can you contact us about privacy?
How do you find out about your personal information we hold?
You can access the personal information that we hold about you by calling, emailing or writing to us (see how you can contact us about privacy). We’ll do our best to respond within 30 days; if it’s going to take longer, we’ll get in touch to let you know why and ask for more time.
There are some situations where we are allowed to refuse or limit your access to information, for example when the information is commercially sensitive. If that happens, we’ll write to you and let you know why.
There is no charge for making a request to access your personal information. However in some cases there may be a charge to cover the time we spend locating, compiling and explaining the information you ask for. If there is a charge, we’ll give you an estimate up front and confirm that you wish for us to proceed.
What are cookies and how do we use them?
Links to third party websites
Our websites may have links to external third party websites that may benefit the user. External websites should contain their own privacy statements and we recommend you review them when using their websites. Please note, however, that third party websites are not covered by this policy, and these sites are not subject to Aoyuan International’s privacy standards and procedures.
Website analytics measurement software is used to assist in tracking traffic patterns to and from our websites, anonymously surveying users of the sites. The system is used to collect such information as the number of unique visitors, how long these visitors spend on the website when they do visit, and common entry and exit points into and from the website. This non-personal information is collected and aggregated by third party software and provided to us to assist in our analysis of our websites. You cannot be identified personally from this information and no personal information is stored about you.
About this policy
This policy is effective as of 16 August 2017. We will update this policy when our information handling practices change, and any amendments will apply to the information we hold at the time of the update. We will post the updated policy on our website; we encourage you to check our website from time to time to view our current policy, or contact us for a printed copy.