23 July 2019
Downsizers are forcing developers to build larger apartments - and smaller towers - as they make their presence felt in Australia’s most famous surfside holiday and lifestyle destination.
Queensland’s Gold Coast market has, for the last five years, been dominated by local and overseas investors. However, with reduced investor activity since mid-last year, downsizers have been taking a more commanding position in the marketplace.
Developer slashes tower size to attract downsizers
The big downsizer-friendly changes underway in the Gold Coast market were made clear for all to see in late 2018, when the Sunland Group lodged a new development application with Gold Coast City Council for its 4,261sqm site on Marine Parade in Labrador.
Sunland had an existing approval, at this site, for a 35-storey tower with 217 units. However, the developer revised the proposal to present a 16-storey residential tower comprising 81 apartments and four luxury four-bedroom villas.
Compared to the approved plans, this new smaller tower will feature a greater variety of apartment types, with more than half of its apartments to have three bedrooms (compared to just 32 per cent in the previously approved plans).
Sunland Managing Director, Sahba Abedian, said the new vision for the property at 180 Marine Parade is designed specifically for the downsizer market.
“Owner-occupiers, particularly downsizers, are seeking a lifestyle close to established amenity and natural beauty, without compromising on space, comfort and the convenience of large living areas, private entertaining spaces, and ample storage,” he said.
In addition, the developer of a project at Main Beach Parade, Main Beach, in April 2019 lodged a development application to reduce the height of a previously approved building from 55 storeys to 38 storeys, resulting in a reduction of 46 units.
The application says the change was based on “building costs and market demand”.
Downsizers will be an ongoing market force
According to housing market expert Michael Matusik, about half of the new homes to be built on Queensland’s Gold Coast over the next decade will need to be designed to cater to the needs of downsizers.
Mr Matusik predicts that the Gold Coast will welcome about 146,000 new residents by 2030, with around 40 per cent of these expected to be aged 55-plus.
Mr Matusik said this means half of the anticipated 5,650 new dwellings required each year should be built to meet demand from an older population.
“This doesn’t mean we need to build more retirement villages, because most empty nesters and retirees here on the Gold Coast are actually looking to upgrade their lifestyle when they downsize,” Mr Matusik told Real Estate Business.
“Contrary to popular belief, most downsizers don’t want small apartments — they want a property that is comparable in size to a small home and is well designed to suit their needs.”
Meanwhile, Zoran Solano from Hot Property Buyers Agency said in January 2019: “We are seeing strong activity from downsizers in our Gold and Sunshine Coast markets as the sea change phenomenon hits its stride again this property cycle.”
Major new retirement living project
The strength of the Gold Coast as a retirement living destination was also illustrated when the Town Planning Alliance in July 2019 lodged a planning application for a major new retirement village at Hope Island. And it’s a development with a difference.
The project will deliver a total of 348 retirement living units.
However, the proposed built form includes a single storey podium with five well-spaced tower forms. These tower forms are broken up into a series of towers rather than one consolidated form, to maximise outdoor open space and landscaping.
Ticking the boxes
Downsizing.com.au features a number of apartment developments that tick all the boxes for empty-nesters on the Gold Coast. Happily, many are also pet-friendly.
Definitely worth a look is 1331 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach. A newly completed development of just 17 apartments, “ONE Palm Beach” offers app-activated technology, spacious open plan design and direct access to absolute beachfront.
Expressions of interest are also being taken for The Verge at Burleigh GC. Rubbing shoulders with the delightful Burleigh Golf Course and just minutes from the beach, The Verge at Burleigh GC is designed especially for over 65s – and you don’t need to be a golf fan to enjoy the creature comforts.
These independent living apartments combine luxury with value, and each of the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments boast floor to ceiling windows, providing sweeping outlooks from every angle.
What downsizers are seeking
As Downsizing.com.au has noted in the past, our conversations with empty-nesters reveal that most are in great health and eager to embrace their next life stage. But they are very selective about what their next home will look like.
Downsizers are quite specific about what they are looking for. The wish list typically focuses on apartments of generous proportions – a preference for three bedrooms is common. Quality kitchens with high-end appliances are keenly sought after. Open plan living areas are a must for ease of mobility.
Importantly, downsizers on the Gold Coast want to enjoy a village feel. They have often lived in the same area for many years, and they want their new home to have a sense of community.
For many downsizers this is driving a strong preference for apartments in smaller, more human-scaled complexes rather than high rise towers.