Baby Boomers not to Blame
Research forecasts that millennials are half as likely to own their home at age 30 than baby boomers. They will also spend more on housing, live in smaller homes and farther from work. However, baby boomers are not to blame. What is? The same research suggests three main causes, more people are living in urban areas and leaving rural areas in huge numbers, travel speeds have stopped improving (any Sydney motorway is clearly evidence of that trend) and real interest rates are in steady decline. The result is demand for urban living that way outpaces supply and cheap debit that helps to bid up prices. It’s not baby boomers staying put in their mainly debt free homes!
Newcastle Surges Ahead
While Sydney and Melbourne have been busy watching each others back, Newcastle has become a property hot spot, reinventing itself. Australia’s seventh largest city is in the midst of seeing big investments in transport, the upgrading of its foreshore, an energized CBD, university expansion and a $6.5 billion investment from the NSW Government plus $2 billion in private development projects. Work on the $260 million light rail network is underway. Newcastle is also attracting major residential projects including Doma’s Lume development, which is part of one of Australia’s largest urban renewal projects that’s setting the pace of development across the city. Newcastle is surging ahead. Buyers from the Sydney property market are looking north to Newcastle’s harbourside setting where house and apartment prices are much more affordable.
Planes, Trains & Affordability
It’s a debate that’s gone almost as long as the debate over Sydney’s second airport with just as many plans, submissions and enquiries. Can we, and should we have a very fast train from Sydney to Melbourne, or from Melbourne to Brisbane, or perhaps a much more modest start Sydney to Canberra? Part of the reasoning has been that the Sydney to Melbourne air corridor carries almost nine million passengers a year, it’s one of the world’s busiest. The cost of some of these plans is as much as $115 billion which, may very well be a modest estimate. The question remains however, are we missing the point and is there a much more urgent need for a very fast train linking Sydney to Newcastle and Wollongong and sure possibly Canberra? While another service could link Melbourne to Ballarat and Bendigo and another Brisbane to Toowoomba. Any one of these services could cut travel times to around 45 minutes from 1.5 hours or more and greatly boost housing options and affordability in these regional centres.
Our Changing Home Sizes
A CommSec report has found Australian homes are getting smaller but are still among the biggest in the world. Our homes are the smallest they've been in two decades but, the figures are not uniform. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data was used and shows that the average floor size of a local dwelling (combining houses and apartments) is around 190sqm, down 2.7% which, is the smallest since 1997. However, our homes are only second only to the US on 204.3sqm. By contrast, Hong Kong has the smallest average home floor size of just 43.6sqm. The increased prevalence of apartments is one factor. Apartments are improving in design and utility and getting smaller, shrinking from an average of 140sqm in 2004-09 period to 130sqm in 2017. While detached homes are getting bigger. The average new house built in 2017 was more than 233sqm, the largest in four years and some 11% bigger than 20 years ago.
The Value of Urban Trees
The City of Sydney looks after the cities trees and they are a major and valued urban asset. Part of the management plan has identified ‘significant’ trees and the suburbs with the most outstanding specimens are: Glebe, Elizabeth Bay, Camperdown, Millers Point and Sydney City. What’s also interesting is the location of what could be one of the city’s oldest trees, it’s an avocado tree (yes that’s correct) at Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay that possibly dates to 1885. The council is actively exploring ways to use trees, along with different road and footpath surfaces to reduce summer heat loads across the city.
Finding the Airbnb Balance
Airbnb has been a Godsend for some homeowners with income to help make ends meet or pay mortgages, for some the opposite has been true with unruly parties making life hell. Many cities are now looking at ways to either work with or legislate to manage Airbnb. The New York City Council is in the process of crafting new legislation that aims to further the city’s crackdown on Airbnb. The city is expected to roll out laws shortly that would require hosts on all short-term rental sites (not only Airbnb) to provide the addresses for their listings, as well as provide their full names and primary addresses, making it easier to identify those operating illegally. Airbnb has so far refused to disclose data on their illegal listings prompting this move. Airbnb is already planning to oppose the new laws, however they have expressed willingness to work with lawmakers to safeguard the safety and privacy of the wider community, not only in New York but in many locations, but to date with only limited success.