The deal with developments: Weekly market wrap with Sam Dodimead


Residential area in the city, modern apartment buildings

The deal with developments

One of interesting parts of property development is seeing community responses to development applications, especially those seeking ambitious design outcomes. Change can evoke passionate responses, often from a single point of view, without considering the broader needs of the community. Increasing the difficulty to secure or even stifling new development reduces the diversity of the housing market, making it especially difficult for those seeking to downsize or wanting to start their journey into property ownership.

I have recently noticed a significant increase in the amount of comments on social media advertising complaining about lack of affordability or suitable low-maintenance options. Without property owners being willing to sell their homes at significant discounts to market value (seems very unlikely), a solution would be to assess development applications rigorously on their individual merits, rather than by a prescriptive planning scheme, to encourage developers to invest in more innovation and providing a broader range of housing choices.

Community education is a big part of the solution. Higher density can provide housing choices in areas including town centres or inner suburbs, allowing residents to enjoy convenience and connectivity. Those seeking single-level homes with lots of outdoor space may be surprised to find there are apartments in some areas with significantly larger courtyards or balconies (100-300sqm) than would typically be found in townhouses or even houses in similar areas. Choosing a single-level apartment increases the amount of living areas and useable space by eliminating what can be multiple flights of stairs found in some townhouses. Parking is another consideration. Is it more desirable to have a tandem garage, or two or three side-by-side parking spaces plus storage?

Progressive developers are providing opportunities for purchasers to combine multiple apartments to create bespoke homes. This reduces the overall number of dwellings in a project and can be found in developments offering high quality, justifying purchaser investment. I anticipate purchasers choosing an aspect and amount of space they desire from a floor plan and having input into the design of their new apartment will become far more common.

There are several examples of developers making significant investments on the thesis Canberra’s market is maturing and high calibre projects should not be confined to the inner suburbs. Gungahlin, Belconnen, Woden and Molonglo Valley each have examples demonstrating broad demand for apartments offering unique resident experiences. It’s not until we look back retrospectively it becomes obvious had there not been an ambitious vision and willingness to push boundaries, none of these projects would be commercially viable, removing choice from Canberrans.

With Sam Dodimead, local property professional and host of Canberra Property Podcast where you can get to know the consultants contributing toward deliver of new buildings. Stream from wherever you listen to podcasts.

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