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The squeeze is on

The demand for low-maintenance living is putting pressure on the existing property market and forcing developers to build smaller homes.
Stockland’s townhome development Sway Birtinya is an example of the style of dwellings that are in short supply for the changing needs of the Sunshine Coast.


The squeeze is on

The demand for low-maintenance living is putting pressure on the existing property market and forcing developers to build smaller homes.

The rising popularity of low-maintenance homes shows no signs of abating in 2019 as more homebuyers recognise the benefits of living options that leave plenty of free time to enjoy life.

Affordability, prime locations and smart floorplans are just some of the reasons why buyers at all stages of life are turning their attention to townhomes, terraces and apartments, as well as adding second dwellings onto larger properties.

Investor Property managing director Mal Cayley says the Sunshine Coast needs a new suburb to be created every 12 to 14 months for the next 20 years to be able to keep up with the demand for property in the region.

“The real challenge in the changing face of the property market on the Coast is the type of property needed,” he says.

“Around 70 per cent of existing supply and approvals are for detached dwellings, usually three- to four-bedroom homes. Interestingly, circa 60 per cent of current household types on the Coast are single or two-person households.

“This means that while the overall demand levels remain high, the under-supply of smaller detached dwellings, apartments, retirement living, townhouses, duplexes, villas and ‘dual living’ variants over all of the above is where the highest demand exists. The limited availability only exacerbates the need for smaller living options.

“While there is no doubt there is an oversupply of apartments in other parts of the country, we definitely need a greater number of smaller product to meet existing demand and also cater for the future.”

Mr Cayley says the region’s economic landscape is changing with projects like the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, the Maroochydore CBD, the airport expansion and the international submarine cable all attracting more young singles, couples and empty-nesters to the region to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy an idyllic lifestyle while still being easily connected to the rest of the world.

“This diversification of the economy has triggered an expanding workforce, focus on innovation, huge infrastructure works and the highest internal migration rate per capita in the nation. All these factors are working in symmetry to boost business confidence, which is sky high and therefore, the region remains an attractive option for owner-occupiers, renters and investors,” he says.

Stockland senior development manager Matt Patullo says townhome project Sway Birtinya is a prime example of the new dwellings buyers are seeking. “Well-designed townhomes are highly liveable, spacious and appealing to a wide range of homebuyers who want affordability and convenience without sacrificing style and luxury,” Mr Patullo says.

The trend towards what demographer Bernard Salt terms “walkable cities” is apparent in the Coast’s greenfield developments at Aura, Harmony and Birtinya, where buyers are opting for smaller blocks and dwellings in order to be close to schools, shops, parks and other amenities.

Mr Cayley says of the next 200,000 people yet to move to the Sunshine Coast, 35 per cent will move to the greenfield development areas and the rest will fit into existing properties or newly constructed infill dwellings.

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