House market outpaced by units


The results of the RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index for June showed that the unit market has outperformed houses over the last 12 months and during the last five years.

Historically, houses have enjoyed a much more rapid appreciation in value than the growth recorded by units. There are a number of reasons for this more rapid level of property value growth. Some of these reasons are a:


· greater demand for houses

· diminishing availability of development land

· higher quality of stock and design available for houses rather than units

· the greater Australian dream to own a house rather than a unit

Despite these factors, over the last five years units have recorded average annual property value growth of 7.4% compared to 7.1% for houses. However, the results suggest that the superior performance of units compared to houses is quite a new phenomenon as over the last 10 years the average annual value growth of houses (9.9%) has well and truly outperformed units (8.0%).

The improvement in the capital growth performance of units in recent times is most likely due to affordability issues. Based on current capital city median prices, unit prices are recorded at $420,000 compared to houses at $495,000. Accordingly, units offer a much more affordable alternative housing option than houses.

Today, many new unit developments are located where a large proportion of the market aspires to live but cannot afford to buy a detached home. In most cases, apartments offer a viable and more affordable option to buy into these areas. Bellevue Hill in Sydney is a good example of this. Bellevue Hill is one of the country’s most expensive housing markets with a median house price of $3.85 million, unit prices in the suburb are recorded at $620,000, -84% more affordable than a house.

The inner city and well established residential areas enjoy high demand for units because in most instances they are: well catered to by local amenity including shops and restaurants, well located close to working nodes and are serviced by existing public transport amenity which is often not available in outer suburbs of the capital cities.

It’s undoubted that units have significant appeal for price sensitive purchasers due to the fact they can own in a popular location at a far lesser price compared with a detached home. For investors, units are appealing because in most instances the rental yields are much higher than they are for houses. Across Australian capital cities, the average gross rental return for a unit is now recorded at 4.8% and for houses yields are recorded at 4.0%. The superior rental return achieved by units can be attributed to the fact that units are typically located in areas that have high demand: close to major transport networks, employment nodes or retail centres.

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