According the ABS Australia’s housing inventory currently stands at some 8.7 million dwellings. Almost 78% are detached homes, and the balance is almost evenly split between semi-detached homes and apartments. And while apartment living is very much on the increase, the marketing of land estates and house-and-land packages is a major part of the market. Last year our major builders, for example, spent some $105m on media marketing their homes.
House and land
Expansive suburban house-and-land packages have for more than half a century been a part of how urban communities have expanded. For many reasons house-and-land packages are the most popular housing choice, and marketing has been well developed to support this popular market.
House-and-land packages are usually defined as being a sale where a buyer finds an estate, a location and a particular block and then makes choice from a selection of builders to build a home. This same process may also well happen in reverse, where buyers first find their ideal home and then find land to build on. There are many display villages to help and encourage this process.
However, many of the circumstances and comments will also apply to the marketing of a brand-new home where the buyer selects an already complete home in a single transaction.
House-and-land packages are usually associated with new estates. Many of these estates, in particular the very big estates, will be in new greenfield locations on the outskirts of existing cities, although some will be infill locations.
Despite some land shortages in most markets, including Sydney, there are many examples of such developments, and they are the major source of supply.
House-and-land packages are clearly associated with such locations, and the large estates are seen as an ideal way to offer buyers choice. A similar choice of size, location, quality and price would not be provided in smaller developments, where display homes are not a viable marketing tool.
Major new residential housing projects tend, by virtue of the amount of land involved, to be located at the edge of the established residential footprint. But this is not always the case, as tracts of land do become available after a change in use is re-zoned, and these infill locations then present their own marketing challenge. Even large infill locations can lack the services required to sustain a vibrant new community. Examples would include a reborn industrial area, market gardens or defense land previously equipped only with limited services for previous workforce or much smaller community.
However, despite the problems associated with some new estates, including a lag in facilities, long drives to work and at times high prices, suburban developments are still very popular.
I think that we would agree that while many Australians might dream of living on the coast or in the country, in reality the best quality of life for most is still found in the suburbs, in one of the many new estates on the market.
The aspiration to move to the coast or the country is part of the Australian psyche, but what we’re in many ways marketing housing that offers a popular lifestyle.
People do not need much persuasion that they are better off in the suburbs. For many the promise (and reality) is suburbs that have the best of all worlds, with access to good schools, modern hospitals, great shops and reliable jobs, but also large houses, fast internet connections and low crime rates. And when a project marketing job ticks these boxes, everyone is happy!
While a shift to more medium- and high-density living located in the inner city is a trend, the era of the new housing estate will remain part of the local market for many decades yet to come. The area still remains a fertile market and rich environment for marketing professionals.
This being the case, some of the core issues that must always be addressed are:
- Land supply and location
- Onsite site sales facilities
- Display homes
- Marketing plans – key pointers in particular a whole of market environment
- The builder and developer relationship
- Product mix and how to best appeal to the target market
- The controlled release of land
- Estate presentation
- How everyone involved with an estate should contribute to the ongoing marketing energy of the estate
This is a rich environment where there are many complex questions that I am keen to focus attention as all of the topics will impact every aspect of the project marketing role, from the practical issues of how will people find a project, to selling the yet unrealised lifestyle offer.
Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.