What is the per­fect fit in Mel­bourne’s mar­ket of shrink­ing apart­ments

Herald Sun - Property - - FRONT PAGE - PETER FARAGO

WHEN look­ing for a onebed­room apart­ment size re­ally does mat­ter and buy­ers might have to look in a mid­dle sub­urb to find the right space.

“The golden rule is that size does mat­ter if you’re af­ter a one-bed­room apart­ment,” Ad­van­tage Prop­erty Con­sult­ing buy­ers’ ad­vo­cate Frank Valen­tic said.

“The big­ger it is the bet­ter for re­sale value. Hav­ing more space, a larger liv­ing area, a larger bed­room and bath­rooms is al­ways go­ing to be more valu­able.”

Mr Valen­tic said a check­list for fea­tures or ameni­ties should also in­clude avail­able stor­age, a cen­tral bath­room where visi­tors don’t have to walk through your bed­room, an off­street car space and a bal­cony.

This ad­vice was not only sage for owner-oc­cu­piers, but was handy if you were plan­ning to rent it out later, he said.

Knight Frank residential pro­ject mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Daniel Cashen said apart­ments were be­com­ing smaller and more ex­pen­sive, so buy­ers should look for homes that bet­ter used space.

“They want to know when they’ve got their friends over that they’ve got a liv­ing area for your lounge and TV and a din­ing area so three of your best friends can have din­ner and you’ve got a de­cent-sized kitchen with a bench space,” he said.

Mr Cashen said built-in robes and stor­age or a linen press were es­sen­tial fea­tures.

“I’ve lived in a one-bed­room with a linen press and with­out a linen press, and where do you put all the tow­els and stuff,” he said.

Mr Cashen, who’s firm is han­dling sales of the Royal Como de­vel­op­ment in Chapel St, South Yarra, said a square out­door area rather than a lin­ear one was a clever el­e­ment that cre­ated an ad­di­tional liv­ing space in a small apart­ment.

“Rather than have a ta­ble and two chairs, you can have a cir­cu­lar ta­ble with four chairs. I think those dif­fer­ences make a point of dif­fer­ence,” he said.

Mr Cashen said while CBD apart­ments were at the small­est end of the scale, buy­ers were de­mand­ing more space in the in­ner sub­urbs in­clud­ing Fitzroy, Rich­mond and South Yarra.

But for de­vel­op­ers, price still dic­tated a ceil­ing on space, so pack­ag­ing apart­ments in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally was be­com­ing more im­por­tant.

“Pri­mar­ily, what peo­ple are look­ing for is the ex­ter­nal amenity, what is sur­round­ing the build­ing, and what is the in­ter­nal amenity — how live­able is my apart­ment?” Mr Cashen said.

“When you talk about ameni­ties in a build­ing, it’s a swimming pool, gym, things like that. Amenity at ground level is about whether there’s a su­per­mar­ket nearby, a run­ning track, a gym­na­sium.”

Mel­bourne devel­oper Ham­ton set tongues wag­ging when it re­vealed a pro­to­type con­vert­ible apart­ment at Ab­bots­ford last month.

De­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor Matthew Melseed said the con­cept was suited to owne­roc­cu­piers as a long-term home be­cause it was loaded with heaps of stor­age and the flex­i­bil­ity of mov­able join­ery.

“It’s some­thing you can live in for a long time,” he said.

Ham­ton en­gaged ar­chi­tects Roth­elow­man to re­search small apart­ments and dis­tilled ideas to cre­ate the con­vert­ible apart­ment, in­clud­ing us­ing a fold-out bed and slid­ing cab­i­netry to add sev­eral me­tres to the liv­ing space.

Mr Melseed said the con­cept, be­ing used in the third stage of the Sanc­tu­ary on the River pro­ject, had been shown to de­vel­op­ers, de­sign­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives work­ing on the State Gov­er­ment’s new apart­ment de­sign guide­lines.

“We were try­ing to show those guys that apart­ments of a cer­tain size can still be re­ally func­tional and great to live in pro­vided that you im­ple­mented good de­sign,” Mr Melseed said.

Roth­elow­man prin­ci­pal Chris Hay­ton said im­prov­ing the amenity of smaller dwellings was im­por­tant as Mel­bourne’s ur­ban den­sity in­creased.

“That doesn’t mean that we be­lieve dwellings are go­ing to shrink from where they are at the mo­ment,’’ Mr Hay­ton said

“We’re prob­a­bly at a point where we’re get­ting to that min­i­mum size.

“There is a lot of room to im­prove what is be­ing of­fered in terms of how small dwellings can be oc­cu­pied and lived in well.”

Mr Hay­ton said an apart­ment loaded with clever de­sign was go­ing to at­tract pro­gres­sive buy­ers.

“If I’m look­ing to sell my apart­ment in 10 years time, I’m go­ing to be a bit be­hind the eight-ball if I haven’t bought into in­no­va­tive think­ing,” he said.

“They re­ally want to be in pos­ses­sion of some­thing that’s go­ing to ap­peal to a more ma­ture apart­ment mar­ket that un­der­stands how to live in a smaller space.”

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