Gym owner Coby Williams with wife Amber and children Jesse, 6, and Layla, 3, check out a larger-style display home at Pelican Waters. Picture: Lachie Millard
QUEENSLAND has recorded the biggest increase in average floor size in the country, as new homes in most other states shrink.
The days of the McMansion appear to be dwindling, with the average size of a new house in Australia dropping to a 22-year low.
The average size of new homes, including apartments, built in Australia was 186.3sq m in 2017-18 – down 1.6 per cent on the previous financial year, according to data commissioned from the ABS by CommSec.
New house sizes are on the increase again in Queensland.
But Queensland is bucking the trend, recording the biggest increase in average floor size in the past financial year for new dwellings, with house sizes up 5.8 per cent (to 190.5 sq m).
Victorians are building the biggest free-standing houses, at an average of 244.8sq m last financial year, an increase of 0.8 per cent. But the Sunshine State also recorded the biggest growth in this category, with the average floor size increasing 1.8 per cent to 230.8sq m.
The national average size of a new free-standing home built in 2017-18 was also 230.8sq m, down from a peak of 247.7sq m in 2008/09.
The findings were contained in the latest CommSec Economic Insights report, which shows Queenslanders are also building bigger apartments, at 133.5sq m (up 6.4 per cent), compared the the national average of 124.8sq m (down 2.7 per cent).
“Aussies are still building some of the biggest detached (freestanding) houses in the world,” according to the report.
“But the size of the average new house has stabilised over the past five years after peaking in size around six years ago (the 2011/12 financial year).
“There are still McMansions being built, but there are fewer of them.”
Despite our decreasing dwelling sizes, new houses are still bigger than they were 20 years ago.
There is plenty of new house stock in the Brisbane market. Picture: Thinkstock
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the shrinking home sizes reflected the increase in apartment construction, with around half of all new buildings in Australia now in that category.
“Generation Y, Millennials, couples and small families want to live closer to work, cafes, restaurants, shopping and airports, and are giving up living space for better proximity to the desirable amenities,” Mr James said.
Mr James said the difference in Queensland was likely due to its relative affordability compared to the southern capitals.
“One possible reason is the fact is that Queensland home prices haven’t been rising to the same extent as places like Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.
“Perhaps the fact is that Queenslanders can afford to build bigger homes.”
The CommSec report suggests that more apartments may need to be built to accommodate the growing population and decreasing household sizes.
Last week, The Courier-Mail reported that new apartment sales in Brisbane during the last quarter had been the strongest in two years.
Urbis revealed that 420 new apartments were sold in the three months to October, the strongest result since December 2016.
The average sale price recorded for the September quarter was $733,000, with three quarters of sales at the middle to high end of the market.
Brothers Martin and Sean Troyahn outside their new home in Bahrs Scrub, near Beenleigh. Picture: John Gass/AAP
“The changes in housing demand and supply and the differences across the country have major implications for builders, developers, investors, building material companies, financiers and all levels of government,” Mr James said.
Free-standing houses now account for just over half of all new homes built in Australia, with highrise apartments and town houses most in demand, according to the CommSec report.
But a search of realestate.com.au shows that there is plenty of new house stock in the Brisbane market, ranging from $349,900 for a 121sq m house at Doolandella to $3.795 million for a 444sq m riverfront house at Hamilton.
Father-of-two Coby Williams said space trumped convenience when it came to buying a home.
“For us, it’s an open plan which allows free flowing movement from room to room,” Mr Williams said. “It’s good to have space which is a better environment to grow up in.”
“I think it’s also important for space for the parents to retreat into as well, so a good master bedroom is an important aspect as well.”
Brothers Sean and Martin Troyahn are building their first house, a 290sq m home, at Bahrs Scrub.
Sean Troyahn said they chose to build together as they felt it was a “bit less daunting”.
“We looked at established houses but there was always something one of us didn’t like,” he said.
“But here we can build what we want and get more bang for our buck.”