Glenn Dwyer | 24 February 2013

Aussie home with a backyard dream over: Bankwest survey

Aussie home with a backyard dream over: Bankwest survey

The 'Great Australian Dream' of a home with a sizeable backyard is increasingly being abandoned in favour of medium-density dwellings such as units, townhouses and semi-detached houses, according to new research by Bankwest.

The Bankwest Housing Density report finds 38% of Australian home approvals over the past 12 months were for medium-density housing compared to 31% only five years ago.

The prevalence for medium density dwellings is not surprisingly highest in the capital cities with the reporting find that 87% of medium density approvals across Australia were located in capital cities with only 13% found in regional areas.

This reflects a considerable jump up from 69% in 2007 from the increased volume of medium density approvals recorded in Melbourne and Sydney over this period, with inner city areas facing the highest demand.

Since this 2007 period, inner Melbourne has seen 97% of housing approvals for medium density dwellings with inner Sydney and inner Brisbane following closely behind at 95%.

“The convenience of an inner-city lifestyle is driving demand for medium-density housing in centralised areas. Young city professionals are shunning the traditional homeowner dream in favour of lower overheads and a shorter commute to work,” says Bankwest retail chief executive, Vittoria Shortt.

The report also showed an increase in medium-density housing approvals in seven of Australia’s eight capital cities since 2007, with Perth being the only exception seeing a fall in its share of medium-density housing approvals over the last year of 20% compared to the level of approvals over the last five years of 23%.

“Higher than average wages and a sprawling city mean that Perth’s residents aren’t facing exactly the same space and affordability issues as those on the East Coast,” says Shortt.

The highest proportion of medium density housing approvals recorded outside of Australia’s capital cities, generally occurred in tourist and mining areas. Queensland’s Gold Coast East tourist hub had the biggest number of dwelling approvals over the last five years at 87%.

Mining areas across the Northern Territory, Queensland and WA also saw significantly high numbers of medium housing approvals last year. East Arnhem had 54% of total approvals for medium density dwellings, 43% of approvals for Queensland’s North West and 39% of approvals in De Grey in WA’s Pilbara region.

Shortt says the high property prices in Australia have made the dream of a standalone house in the suburbs significantly harder to achieve, leaving medium density housing the more affordable alternative.

“The popularity of medium-density housing will likely be maintained as older Australians continue downsizing to more manageable self-contained units and first time buyers look to medium-density dwellings as a cost-effective option."

Bankwest's First Time Buyer Deposit Report, released in December 2012, found units were a more suitable option for first time buyers wanting to live in Australia’s capital cities, taking the average first time buyer couple 3.3 years to save for a unit deposit compared with 4.2 years to save for a house deposit.

Photo by Michael Senchuk, courtesy of Flickr.

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