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Is Liverpool Council getting Family Apartments right?

Read this First : Liverpool Council Link to Draft Proposal

In the last Council meeting a draft amendment of the Family Friendly Apartments and Apartments Design guide was considered by a committee. The committee had architects, planners and even urban designers… However, I’m not entirely sure if they all realise the importance of these changes…. I am also not sure if they have made any allowance for consequences on the larger real estate market by contemplating actually what they are doing here….

They are realistically being asked to speculate on the real estate market on a very elaborate scale.

here are the shortcomings as I see them:

Allocation of Apartment Configurations

BedroomsCurrentlyProposed
Studio & 1 Bedroom10%15% (5% Studio)
3 Bedroom+10%20%
Adaptable Living10%10%

Currently across the Liverpool LGA Apartments need to comply with the following 10% Studio and 1 Bedroom Apartments, 10% 3 Bed or more apartments and a further 10% must be adaptable, meaning suitable senior living and adaptable to disability living relevant with Australian Standards AS4299-1995. Under advice from the committee, they are proposing: Studio 5% and 10% 1 Bedroom (an increase of 5% overall and 20% for 3 Bedrooms or greater (an increase of 10%).

The problem with the numbers in this modelling is the changing behaviour of buyers in the Liverpool unit market as housing becomes less and less affordable., and how quickly things can change if say, the Federal Government change some of their policy in relation to home buyers to try and stimulate other markets. “We need to be the $450k 1x Bedroom Unit City of Australia”

Liverpool LGA Unit Sales (July23-June24)Number of Sales% of Sales
1 Bedroom746%
2 Bedroom62851%
3 Bedroom28022%
Unspecified inc Studio26021%

* Source Pricefinder Reportable Total 1242

Consider Recent Granny Flat Changes

With council now removing contribution for granny flats we are going to see a big increase in 2 Bedroom rental accommodation as compatible ratepayers all start to capitalise by constructing granny flats. This will put more pressure on the 2 Bed unit market in Liverpool in my opinion. You have to be careful not to oversupply the 2 Bedroom market with recent decisions.

3 Bedroom + Needs Increasing.

We are seeing strong demand for 3 Bedroom units across the Liverpool LGA as families look for more affordable ways to reside. Currently ABS Housing data reflects that 25% of families currently live in apartments. If Liverpool council is looking to attract more families into Liverpool (which is a great thing) then they should be looking to build no less than 30% 3 bedroom+ configurations to stimulate growth and potentially look at including a 4 Bedroom minimum of 5%. ie: 3 Bed 25% and 4 Bed 5%. Some families could potentially make this choice as a lifestyle decision and forgo their larger family home. Opting for a smaller mortgage or potentially no mortgage at all and decide on a more lavish lifestyle. Some moderately luxurious inclusions on higher levels should potentially be encouraged.

* Source UNSW Article Link)

Couples trying to earn a family (More 1 Bed)

Starting a family is quickly becoming a luxury in Australia and for young Australians the challenge is increased exponentially by other pressing life priorities at the moment, such as the cost of housing and living. Many couples looking to start a family might strongly consider Liverpool with 1 Bed accommodation as very reasonable and from an affordability point of view is more achievable to own instead of renting (not much more in $). If we can offer reasonably priced 1 Bedroom apartments that a couple could purchase and have a decent go at paying off then it may help them springboard to a family home or suitable family apartment once they have built up equity but still affording them a relatively Ok lifestyle with lower mortgage committments. While 1 Bedroom units might not offer the best capital growth, they should be in much higher demand from an affordability point of view. I also think it would be great to attract more young couples to Liverpool in the hope that they decide to become part of our community more permanently…. Therefore I would be looking to increase minimum for 1 Bed and Studios to 25% to ensure we are encouraging this as a City and build these to price for builders to make sure they can retail for no more than $450k…..this may really help get people out of renting…helping the younger adults to move out on their own etc. We need more younger home buyers starting to buy in Liverpool.

An interesting ACA episode. Liverpool? Are we ready for Some Innovation

Family Friendly Apartment Mix Recommendation

BedroomsCurrentlyProposed
Studio & 1 Bedroom10%25% (100% Adaptable Living)
3 Bedroom+10%25%
4 Bedroom05%

Other Considerations

Car Stacking Mandatory

Let’s recognise that our transport system is getting better but is still far from ideal. Moving in and out of the City or Parramatta is OK but getting around from suburb to suburb really requires the use of a car. If we acknowledge that we are going to have a car parking issue as a City in the future  with more cars per household then so not insist that car parks are designed for the use of Car Stackers and that it be required that the builder fits and warranties the same for all units except Studio and 1 Bedrooms.

Not saying that they will be used all the time, but if we make it a requirement then it may help us in the future and would only add 5k to the price of the unit.

Electric Charging

Make it a requirement that every unit has its own power supply in its car space to provision electric charging and ensure that buildings comply with safety and power supply requirements.

Electric Bike Room

Consider making the commitment that Electric bikes are a pretty great way to get around and try and promote the use of them more by having residential unit buildings having safe places to charge them overnight without them having to go up to the owners unit.  Due to malfunctions of batteries lately you might stipulate some extra fire protection in these areas etc…Safe Charging Stations and specific fire fighting equipment for electrical fires.

Solar Panels

If possible and practical to do so add as much solar power as possible to light and power the common building amenities areas to try and keep strata costs as low as possible.

Increased Security for Residents

Ensure better security in buildings by insisting that comprehensive CCTV be placed throughout the building, including the common areas of levels. This system should be able to be easily accessed by police etc. A safer building will be highly valued by buyers and the more control of entry and access to car parks etc is seen favourably.

More Family Friendly Spaces instead of landscaping.

Maybe a couple of amenities areas to help bring unit apartment owners together. Like a community garden etc……and a little more upmarket areas for apartment owners to share events in that in….Projector movie nights etc , Yoga Mornings etc and gym.

Make sure they are not built shit

If you are going to build these things then lets make sure that we lead the way in NSW to do it…..NO MORE PRIVATE CERTIFIERS in Liverpool….Lets get inspectors on the job weekly if possible….not to police but to make sure its done to the highest standard and something the City can be proud of.

Recycling Chutes

Ensure all new buildings make it easy for anyone on any level of the building to recycle by adding additional chutes for recycling.

In Summary I would have to say this draft has a lot of potential….I really love the approach they are taking to larger balconies and encourage more than one balcony for 3 bedrooms+….It’s a great change…I think they need to relook at the City’s requirements and also help control an entry level price for the 1 Bedroom….Standardise the price and have builders compete on value for money….$450,000 and a little more government assistance on these then I think we can really turn some renters into home owners and might convince “kids staying at home longer” to “I’m getting a start on the ground floor for $450,000” to start building something for themselves.

While it could be argued that its not up to council to control the price of housing, I think it is councils responsibility to create more appropriate housing by marketing price as a council wide initiative and a commitment the builder makes in obtaining his approval

This is a massive responsibility as mentioned before “They are realistically being asked to speculate on the real estate market on a very elaborate scale”….

Please reach out to suitably qualified professionals to understand the effect poor planning could have on our City. I’d also encourage the panel speaking to a few well known real estate agents selling lots of units in Liverpool to see if their opinion differs from mine…I’m very happy to be wrong.

Kindest Regards,

BJ Gregory

Gregory Property Agents

0422 333 333

e: bj@gregory.agency

w: www.gregory.agency

Supporting Articles:

Bayesian Modelling of Standard Configuration Model

Four Key Factors That Drive The Real Estate Market

House Prices and Birth Rates. The impact of the real estate market on Family Planning ( Very Interesting information from US)

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