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Buyer sentiment: What the market is telling us

2015 has kicked off with an abundance of off the plan apartment enquiry on Apartment Register, across Melbourne’s inner city suburbs. Following our article on overseas buyer demand drivers, we thought it best to comment on the local market enquiry year to date.

Apartment Register’s 400 enquiry sample has been 90% local owner-occupier, comprised of first home buyer (FHB) and first time off the plan buyers; the remaining 10% is local and overseas investors who typically own more than one property.

The common theme is the preference to purchase in the inner ring suburbs considered to be within 10km of Melbourne CBD: close to their place of work, friendships groups and public transport. For the most part, the buying experience is overwhelming, navigating through pricing, floor plans and marketing material with the average purchaser enquiring between five and fifteen projects over a three to six month search timeline.

The trend for owner-occupier enquiry is the desire to live in what they phrase as a ‘boutique development’, considered to be that of less than 80 apartments with the ideal preferred number at 50 apartments. Owner-occupiers prefer lower annual body corporate fees, as they have existing recreation memberships and wish to settle within a 6 to 18 month settlement time line from date of enquiry, with an 18 month settlement period the maximum amount of time prepared to wait, prior to moving in.

Single first home buyer enquiry is 70% female (age bracket of 25-35) and 30% male (age bracket of 28-40) with a budget of $400-$450K for a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom with car park (preferred over car stacking systems) at a minimum size of 45 sqm. 50% of the first home buyers currently reside at their parent’s residence and have assistance from the parents, with the remaining currently renting with a partner or friend and have saved the 10% deposit without family assistance.

First home buyer couples in the 28-34 age bracket have a product preference for 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom with car park configuration in the $500-$700K price bracket. Selection criteria includes natural light to bedrooms, ample ventilation and security system.

First time local investors selection criteria is for 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom and car park due to rental yield and flexibility to rent to a couple or friends. The proximity to transport and the number of the apartments within the developments mimics that if they were buying to live in.

The enquiry for over 55 year old downsizers is a healthy demand for 2 bedroom and study, 2 bathroom and car park at a minimum size of 80 sqm, with a budget of $700K to $900K. The attraction is the cost of apartment entry, comparable to a townhouse product with lower entry cost and lack of stairs. Half of the enquiry of over 55 year olds still have a child living on premise, which does not deter their timing to sell the family home and downsize within the next 12-24 months.

At a suburb level, the trend in our enquiry data indicates buyers look for suburb corridors and are prepared to choose between three to four suburbs within that corridor area. For example, first preference for many is Fitzroy and Carlton, which depending on available products, clients are prepared to extend their criteria to North Melbourne or Collingwood.

On a suburb level, South Melbourne is the number one requested suburb - with Fishermans Bend gathering momentum with potential buyers - communicating that a complete suburb is not required for venturing beyond for schools, amenities and other services.

First time overseas investors prefer the Melbourne CBD as an investment, or for potential future use by the family when studying in Melbourne for tertiary education. Experienced overseas investors prefer the North Melbourne and Carlton precinct for proximity to Melbourne University and the Southbank precinct apartments for the Crown Entertainment Complex, along with access to the Botanical Gardens and Arts Precinct. Our enquiry indicates the even trend for 1 bed/1 bathroom products up to $500K and 2 bed/2 bathroom products up to $650K.

My Real Estate Mate through the Apartment Register platform will regularly comment on enquiry demand trends. Developers can contact us at any time for feedback on product design and general apartment demand. We hope you have found this snapshot helpful and look forward to hearing from you.

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