The Granada Grand 40 display home by Carlisle Homes, on display at Stockland’s Cloverton estate, Kalkallo.
THERE was a time when bigger was definitely better when buying a block in a Melbourne estate.
Land was cheap and plentiful on the fringe, which meant families didn’t have to think too carefully about the price per square metre and could set aside a healthy portion of their purchase for a big backyard.
But times have changed.
The 2018 Urban Development Institute of Australia’s State of the Land report revealed the median lot size in Melbourne’s greenfield market shrank in eight years from 514sq m in 2009 to 405sq in 2017.
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Meanwhile, the median price per square metre for land in the state rose from $333 to $692 in the same period.
The trend chimes with what project director James Westh, from developer Stockland, has noticed over the past year: buyers purchasing smaller parcels of land in estates because land is becoming more expensive.
“It comes down to supply and demand, and Melbourne is an attractive city for many people,” Mr Westh said. “And that does have an impact on prices.”
The Portland 25 display home by Carlisle Homes, on display at Stockland’s Cloverton estate, Kalkallo.
Mr Westh estimated up to 10 per cent of Stockland’s projects were set aside for smaller lot offerings these days.
“We think, too, that this is a number that will increase in years to come,” he said.
“I think the rental market is getting tougher, so more people are looking for affordable housing options.”
Many first-home buyers are selecting double-storey designs that provide them with all of the space they need but cost less to buy because they take up less space.
Mr Westh said the average price for a house and land package in Victoria’s residential growth areas was about $550,000 to $600,000.
“If a buyer opts for a smaller block, they can save roughly $100,000, so it’s a great entry point for first-home buyers,” he said. “Even if they opt for a double-storey home, they are finding that a house and land package on a smaller block is still much cheaper.”
High ceilings make rooms feel more generous and give the overall impression of spaciousness.
Keeping it close
Developers these days are also partnering with builders to thoughtfully integrate smaller lots into estates.
“(Homes) may have a smaller yard, but we make sure those homes are located near parks,” Mr Westh said.
He added smaller blocks were increasingly popular with downsizers, who often wanted to stay in their communities.
“We make sure we offer a diversity of home styles and blocks so people can grow in those communities through the various stages of their lives.”
A multifunctional room, like this activity area with a study nook, saves on space.
Carlisle Homes managing director John Doulgeridis has also noticed a decrease in lot sizes, but doesn’t think this is a bad thing.
“We focus on design solutions to maximise space and make the most of compact homes,” he said. “We’re smart with the way we design floorplans so that no space is wasted.”
While block sizes were shrinking, Mr Doulgeridis said residents’ desire for plenty of space was not. “People still want large houses — they are just going on smaller blocks,” he said.
He said one way to satisfy this demand was to build up rather than back.
“We construct 1400 homes a year and, increasingly, people are choosing double-storey designs. Building up allows owners to retain much more of their land as outdoor space — for example, having a 5m-deep backyard instead of a 3m-deep backyard.”
A double-storey home also allows for a second, sometimes third, outdoor space in the form of balconies, highly prized among buyers.
Smaller lots are located close to parks so buyers have access to open space.
Good design can go a long way in making homes on smaller blocks appear spacious.
Mr Doulgeridis said Carlisle, for example, carefully positioned large windows to look out to the rear garden, rather than on to side fences.
“We also focus on enhancing the functional areas of the home, such as favouring room size over grand entries,” he said.
And storage is no longer just a cupboard under the stairs.
“Buyers want more than that,” he said. “They want integrated storage solutions, especially in the kitchen. We offer plenty of practical design features throughout our homes to give our customers all the space they need.”