Where does suburbia fit into the Perth equation?

PropertyESP recently attended the PIA State Conference which was aptly termed “Rocking the suburbs.”

Minister Rita Saffioti opened the conference and posed the question – does every suburb wish to be rocked and went on to explain that in the East, the focus in the 1990’s was all about the inner ring and that suburbs were seen nearly as a second class choice.

In contrast – Perth is the exact opposite – even some 27 years on.

Our population growth certainly has been part of the reason for this evolution with some residents happy to travel over an hour into the City for work while living in our burgeoning outer suburbs.  This is true regardless of age.

But what is evident in the Eastern States, is that now, some three decades later, the inner city is reserved solely for the wealthy.

Interestingly 83% of lawyers work in our CBD, 62% engineers, 39% white collar professionals and 26% health workers – however this is not reflected in their choice of housing suburb.

This is partially because house sizes have not declined drastically and yet the range of housing choices in the CBD continues to cater for 1-2 person households.

The Minister therefore believes that we will see a shift whereby suburbia will become more like business districts and the City will evolve into an amenity district.  This certainly aligns with their Metronet model.

At PropertyESP we believe that Perth will follow the same pattern as the East, with the CBD becoming a desired location over the next decade.  But first we need to see greater choice of housing and added amenities such as schools in order to cater to a broader cross section of the community.

But on the tail of that, there are many suburbs that were established in the 1970’s to 90’s that really do lack any sense of pulse and hence in order to retain their residents, their Councils will also need to be progressive in the provision of services and development of community spirit.

There is no doubt that Perth is in a flux of change and as a result of significant investment in the inner CBD and key suburban shopping centres, we will see the rise of preferred suburbs over the next 5-10 years.  But that also means that there will be many suburbs that languish.

The question is, are the LGA’s prepared to rock the boat and their suburbs and evolve with WA’s changing needs?

 

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Freedom Fit is the new Downsizer

You may have seen PropertyESP’s Director Samantha Reece on Channel 7 News Wednesday evening talking about the concept that she has hatched – known as Freedom Fit – under the WA Apartment Advocacy banner.

After conducting recent focus groups with seniors, Samantha found that when baby boomers moved to an apartment – while they were downsizing the living space they used – they were not downsizing on their mortgage or their lifestyle.  Hence the common term downsizer was now somewhat passe.

In fact these baby boomers knew that they would have an abundance of free time once they moved into an apartment and and hence sought locations that offered the corresponding lifestyle that would fill this time.

On that basis they sought locations that offered coffee strips, with natural elements such as the beach or river and also proximity to major hubs such as Perth or Fremantle.

In particular the apartment lifetyle also tended to be a motivating factor to encourage the residents to get out and try new activities and hence provided a new lease on life.

As a result of these findings, Samantha coined a new term – Freedom Fit – to better describe the motivation driving this older demographic.

These retirees were also keen on knowing their neighbours and recommended joint services within districts, such as a concierge service.

It was also evident that the senors in these groups were delighted with the apartment lifestyle and it is these added benefits that apartments offer over traditional retirement villages, which will now be a defining element of Perth’s evolving senior’s housing.

And what is clearly evident though is that  this age group will dominate the market for a while yet – and as such we need to be conscious of what they are looking for including more living space, extra bedrooms and storage.

As the market begins to become more sophisticated with its appetite for apartments – so must our choice of designs.

Interesting times ahead!

Commercial market needs to diversify

I attended the Property Council lunch last week which outlined the status of the Perth office market.

While vacancy rates are currently at 16% with projections that it could reach as high as 23%, the news still has a positive spin.

Interestingly, the Perth office market has grown steadily over the past 24 years, but we have held all our hopes on a one horse race – that is the mining sector.

Graphs shown be Deloiite clearly showed that mining began to play a major role for the WA economy in the 1980’s and we subsequently have ridden that high without then thinking about growing other sectors of our economy.

However with all the building works occurring at The Springs, Elizabeth Quays and Waterbank, what is clear, is that Perth is now moving into a new era – and quite frankly I am excited!

While we have been somewhat remiss in building our economy so that it is robust, now is the time and Deloitte predicted that there were five key markets that they believed would fuel WA’s future including gas, tourism, agribusiness, health, international education and wealth management.

The beauty about building these sectors is that there is obviously spin off industries including gas processing and transport etc.

However what this means is that we have to stop relying on the mining sector to be our saviour and actually take some control of where we take our economy – and that takes decisive action from the private and public sector alike.

This next ten year phase is definitely therefore about taking Perth to a new standard and with 150,000sqm of office space coming onto the market, there is no doubt that companies will look favourably at relocating into newer spaces at more competitive rates.

And if you happen to be holding onto older stock, now is the time to invest and be creative with how you may attract major sectors such as education into the CBD.

But if you stay still then you will undoubtedly suffer.

The writing is on the wall – so make some sound decisions and stay ahead of the pack – or otherwise you will find the next phase of Perth’s evolution will undoubtedly eclipse you!