Raine & Horne calls on Greater Sydney Commission to consider retiree housing

Media release - 29th June, 2015

Angus Raine, Executive Chairman of Raine & Horne, is calling on the Greater Sydney Commission, established in last week’s NSW Budget, to help promote more suitable housing for retirees, such as low density apartment blocks and villas to help address the city’s real estate affordability issues.

The NSW Government will invest $20.9 million over four years to launch the Greater Sydney Commission, which has been tasked with overseeing the delivery of new housing, infrastructure and services, across the metropolitan area.

To help meet its target of 664,000 dwellings in Greater Sydney by 2031, the NSW Government has allocated $400 million to support new housing supply in infill and greenfield areas, as well as $89.1 million to help cut council red tape.

“The Greater Sydney Commission is an excellent initiative but it must find ways to deliver suitable housing to retirees still living in oversized family homes across the metropolitan area,” says Mr Raine, who believes Sydney requires more medium density housing and villas, where land prices make this a feasible alternative for developers.

“There’s been plenty of news about the massive growth in apartment developments across Sydney, but the majority of this stock is not suitable for retirees, who are already hampered by the prospect of paying stamp duty to downsize.

“If the commission can help encourage more Sydney empty-nesters to downsize out of bigger family homes, it will go some way towards helping to address the city’s affordability issues,” says Mr Raine.

Mr Raine also urged the State Government to do more to promote the benefits of downsizing to a bigger population centre such as Newcastle, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth, Dubbo and Orange.

“These centres offer all the amenities and facilities that retirees have come to expect in the city, yet real estate prices are significantly more affordable,” he says.

In the St George and Sutherland Shire region, Ray Fadel, Principal of Raine & Horne Sans Souci, agrees that the explosion of high-rise apartment towers in his region is not really addressing the housing needs of empty-nesters.

“Older Australians want to live in villas or three bedroom apartments in smaller blocks that have views and are within walking distance of shops and transport,” says Mr Fadel.

“There’s not much stock like that in our region apart from Cronulla, Ramsgate and Brighton.

“The majority of the new developments in the St George/Sutherland region offer two bedroom apartments, located in high-rise towers where owners must share the space with hundreds of other occupants.

“Even though they all have lift access, the high-rise towers are not for retirees in many cases.”

Older three-bedroom villas worth around $1 million are proving popular with retirees, although they are also in short supply, according to Mr Fadel.

“The trouble is that the three bedroom villas were selling for about $700,000 a few years ago. They’re now up above $1 million, which doesn’t free up much cash for retirees considering a downsizing strategy,” says Mr Fadel.

On the North Shore, Hugh Macfarlan, Principal of Raine & Horne Chatswood/Willoughby, says the cost of land generally prohibits the development of villas.

“Ku-ring-gai Municipality which covers off suburbs between Wahroonga in the north and Roseville in the south, has responded with plenty of new low-rise apartment blocks that offer stylish three bedroom apartments with generous floor plans and lifts, which are suitable for downsizers,” says Mr Macfarlan.

“These apartments are more manageable than large houses on big blocks with tennis courts and pools, that many on the Upper North Shore continue to live in because of a shortage of suitable options.

“Stamp duty is already a problem and this is keeping many older North Shore residents in bigger homes, so it would be great to see the new Greater Sydney Commission consider ways to address housing affordability issues – and this probably means encouraging the development of larger quality apartments close to good amenities that would suit downsizers very well.”

Retirees attending open for inspections in the Inner West are expressing a preference for larger apartments, according to Kip Laverack, Project Sales Consultant at Raine & Horne Projects. 

“When retirees make a decision to move from a larger house, the prospect of shifting into a shoe box is not an option, especially if they need some extra living space for grandchildren,” says Mr Laverack. 

“The preference is for apartments with more generous floor space of 100 sqm, rather than the standard 75 sqm, which is typical of many developments in the Inner West. 

“If we had more three bedroom apartments, we’d sell them, as long as the price is right for downsizers and the developers.”

–ENDS–

For further media information contact:

Angus Raine, Executive Chairman, Raine & Horne on 0409 920 697

Andrew Harrington, National Communications Manager, Raine & Horne on 02 9258 5400