THE great Australian dream of a quarter acre block is rapidly diminishing with demand for units reaching record levels.

Buyers are prepared to love thy neighbour and live closer to each other than ever before with approvals for medium density living now accounting for 43.4 per cent of new home approvals.

The latest Bankwest Housing Density Report found that approvals for medium density dwellings, that is units, townhouses and semi-detached houses, were up by 22.9 per cent on last year.

Approvals for stand-alone houses only improved by 6.5 per cent during the same period.

Bankwest executive general manager retail, Mark Reid, said their figures revealed it was a long-term trend, which he thought was driven in part by first home buyers.

“Data shows it is also a long-term trend, with approvals for medium density housing growing by a staggering 45.9 per cent over five years,’’ he said.

At the same time approvals for stand-alone homes fell by 8.5 per cent.

“Australians’ appetite for medium density housing is steadily outstripping stand-alone homes,’’ Mr Evans said.

He said smaller housing options increased in popularity as the population grew and concentrated around capital cities.

“The increasing popularity of medium density housing is possibly being driven by Australia’s first time home buyers, who are finding it difficult to afford a stand-alone house,” he said.

Bankwest chief economist Alan Langford said the increase had been substantial but he thought there was still room for more growth in the unit market.

“Perhaps we might stop to catch our breathe for a little while, but everywhere is getting more urban infill,’’ he said.

Mr Langford said it was not just affordability which had increased demand for units. He said many were built around public transport and in lifestyle locations which also made them appealing.

Mr Reid said previous research by Bankwest on first time buyers saving for a deposit had revealed it took 3.4 years to save a 20 per cent deposit on a median-priced unit compared with 4.2 years for a median-priced stand alone home.

The lean toward units living had jumped significantly in the past two years.

More than half or more of total dwelling approvals were for medium density homes in five of Australia’s capital cities.

In Sydney it was 68.3 per cent, Canberra 68 per cent, Darwin 67.9 per cent, Melbourne 54.6 per cent and Brisbane 53.4 per cent.

Perth was the only capital city where stand-alone homes remained considerably more popular than units.

Mr Reid said in Western Australia the gap between savings time for a house and for a unit was the smallest of any state in Australia.

It took only six months longer to save for a house in Perth than it did to save for a unit.




NSW — 25,262

VIC — 22,390

QLD — 13,854

WA — 5382

ACT 3339

NT — 1412

SA — 2336

TAS — 321


Figures are year to Oct. 2013

Source: Bankwest
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