recently caught up with a Melbourne property expert, who explained the design features developers really need to address to attract downsizers to new apartments.

According to Trevor Buhagiar, Senior Associate and Licenced Real Estate Agent with Fletchers, Melbourne’s eastern suburbs of Canterbury, Camberwell and Hawthorn often have homes that have been loved and occupied by the same family for 30 or 40 years. In many cases, the “kids” are off the owner’s hands, and they’re looking for that downsizer home. But they want to stay in the area because children and grandchildren aren’t too far away.

“A lot of vendors in these affluent areas are asset rich, cash poor,” notes Trevor. “They don't want to have the big homes where they've got to maintain them internally and externally. What they want is an open plan, lifestyle home without the inconvenience of gardens and the maintenance side of things.”

Open plan design appeals

Trevor explains that these Melbourne downsizers often dislike “small confined bedrooms, living or dining areas”. He adds, “They want to have that luxury of an open floor plan. Two bedrooms can become a little bit restrictive because downsizers do like to have the grandchildren come over, so there is a preference for three bedrooms.”  

With this type of home, empty nesters in Melbourne can still fit a lot of their nice furniture, and have that inside/outside entertainment area. Trevor adds, “Bi-folding doors that lead out to a good size balcony, or an alfresco ground floor garden type apartment can be ideal.”

One of the design features empty nesters often consider is ceiling height. “The higher the ceiling, the more volume you get in space, in the open plan design, notes Trevor. “Gone are the days of the 1.8 metre height, it's more given towards 2.8-3 metre height ceilings these days.”

Another aspect developers need to be mindful of is the finished goods within an apartment. Trevor explains, “The downsizers I speak with like to have the things such as an integrated fridge package that includes a dishwasher and so forth. These buyers are looking for middle-line finishes, or high-end type finishes. Air conditioning obviously is important in the bedrooms as well as in the living areas.”

Developers cannot overlook downsizers

In his conversations with developers and project managers, Trevor stresses the need for apartments to have floor plans that are marketable to the downsizer demographic. “We see a lot of stock on the market that's not moving, and that’s because it doesn’t match what buyers want. So now we're finding developers are asking questions around what downsizers really want.”

With so many empty nesters in Melbourne eager to enjoy lower maintenance living – yet still within the city’s east, it can only be a matter of time before developers bring properties to market that tick all the boxes for today’s downsizers.


Greg Oddy is Director of Sales and Marketing for and