This article was first published on domain.com.auChristina Zhou
Image: Larry Maloon, partner Kimberly, their 22-month-old daughter Savannah and their dog Fregie in the courtyard of their Malvern East apartment. Photo: Luis Ascui
Ground-floor apartments are no longer on the bottom of buyers’ wish lists as they chase a house-like lifestyle packaged in a smaller footprint.
They are becoming top choice for an ageing population and more people looking for a mid-point between a unit and a house as rising house price inches the backyard dream further out of reach.
With the trend towards smaller apartments in high-rise buildings, a courtyard offers more space and can function as an additional room.
Noise and disturbance, privacy and security were concerns with ground-floor apartments, and traditionally they did not perform as well, valuer and buyers’ advocate Greville Pabst, of WBP Property Group, said.
But a ground-floor apartment with a large courtyard – that addresses those concerns – was particularly attractive and scarce, he said. There was strong demand from ageing empty nesters, a growing proportion of the population.
“If they’re really good apartments, and located well, they tend to perform well because it’s almost like you’ve got a small house,” he said.
“It is land that appreciates, and if you’ve got extra land attached to that apartment, then that’s really desirable from a value point of view.
“As apartments become more dense, and they’re tending to get smaller rather than larger, these bigger ground-floor apartments with courtyards are going to be a really good investment.”
Simone Chin, of Hodges Brighton, said the perception of ground-floor apartments was changing with rising prices in the inner city and shifting preference towards low-maintenace living.
“Ten years ago, a first home buyer might have $500,000 and they would be looking to buy a little house,” she said.
“Now they’re outpriced for a little house maybe in the inner city, but they can get a great apartment.
“There’s a lot of couples, without children or with children, they have a dog or a pet and that’s just a really nice extra [space].”
And with growing demand, she believes the price gap between a ground and first-floor unit which existed 10 to 15 years ago had generally narrowed over the past decade.
Larry Maloon and partner Kimberly moved into the only ground-floor residence with a courtyard in a boutique apartment building at 1/907 Dandenong Road in Malvern East about two years ago.
The couple chose to live on the ground floor because they wanted to install a pet door for their dog for when they weren’t home during the day.
Mr Maloon said the family also enjoyed entertaining in the courtyard during summer. “We’ve got a barbecue out there, there’s enough room for a decent crowd and there’s some outdoor furniture.”
The diamond setter, who previously lived in a high-rise in Canada, said it was more convenient living on the ground floor without having to carry groceries upstairs.
After having their now 22-month-old daughter, Savannah, they are looking to upsize to a house in the Point Cook area when they sell their apartment with expectations of $550,000.
Developers, too, are reporting increased interest in bottom-floor living. Luke McKie from Orchard Piper said so-called “garden residences” – in Toorak’s Washington Street and Mathoura Road were among the first to sell.
They tended to attract owner-occupiers who wanted a garden but also a low-maintenace lifestyle of an apartment building, he said.
“It used to be a really price-driven decision, to live in an apartment,” he said. “But I think it’s much more of a lifestyle decision now, where people are looking for a transition in their life.
“Quite often you have someone who maybe is not completely sold on the idea of moving into an apartment, but they can get their head around a garden apartment.”
Ground-floor apartments could also potentially attract a larger pool of tenants because there were no constraints for people with mobility issues, Kay and Burton agent Claire Endersbee said.
“It’s a benefit for young families just being on that ground level, where children tend to want to play outside and you can keep an eye on them.”