Jess Irvine started her article in news.com.au in an interesting way.
I haven’t weeded the garden in three months. I can’t. I don’t have one.
She explains that the great Australian dream of owning a house on a quarter acre block of land has turned sour because of affordability and backyards are a luxury many young Australians can no longer afford.
So why is Australian housing so expensive?
Irvine explains that it’s not so much home prices that have risen, but the cost of the land beneath them.
There’s only so far you can go building new homes on the fringes of our capital cities. But urban infill has faced staunch resistance from existing home buyers.
She also explains that we have become a nation of NIMBYs – not in my back yard.
Once we own our own property, homeowners are not so willing to allow developments in their vicinity.
NIMBYism choking our cities
The executive director of the McKell Institute, Peter Bentley, and says getting NIMBYs on-board for urban infill will be critical to solving Australia’s housing affordability crisis.
“If you allow new homes in your suburb it is likely your community will get more money for schools and hospitals, and new businesses such as childcare centres and GP clinics will open.
It’s time for NIMBYism to end. Cities are meant to evolve. We can’t grow the Australian population by 300,000 every year if we have no idea where we want those people to live.
We have to change the way we live. And we are.
The dream of the quarter acre yard has been slowly dissolving for decades.
The most recent building approvals show local councils in capital cities approved 152,272 new dwellings last year (only half the number needed to keep up with population growth).
Of these, 90,110 were free standing homes and 62,165 were multi-dwelling homes like apartments or terraces.
Apartments and multi-dwelling homes used to account for only 20 per cent of new homes. Today it’s more like 40 per cent.
For young couples, apartment living is a sensible option. Apartments in the centre of town offer exciting night-life, cafes and cut down cost of commutes.
And an increasing proportion of children too are growing up in apartments. This happens in many major cities. Think New York. Hong Kong. Paris. The key is building good quality apartments with plenty of parks and facilities nearby.
Housing is a basic human right. But a big backyard, increasingly, is not.
Our cities are hitting the limits of acceptable urban sprawl.
If we want to ease the affordability squeeze on young families, the only way is up.
As a property investor it’s important to own the type of property that will be in continual strong demand in the future and this will be medium density properties – apartments and townhouses.
This will be the preferred style of accommodation for for both owner occupiers and tenants, from a range of demographic groups – both the young and the young at heart. Baby Boomer are downsizing to apartments and Geny Y’s are trading the possibility of a backyard for a balcony.
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