Record numbers of people moving to Melbourne’s housing estates

by admin on August 20th, 2019

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Charles and Jane Kerbage with daughters Emily, 12, and Shanece, 9, on the block that will become their new home, at Woodlea Estate. Photo: Penny StephensRecord numbers of Melburnians are buying land in housing estates on the city’s fringe, proving the Great Australia Dream is far from dead – in fact it’s more desired than ever.

Frantic apartment construction has recently threatened the traditional dominance of house and land packages in Melbourne. In mid-2015, more units were being approved than houses in Victoria.

But fast forward a few months and the housing estates are again on top.

More than 22,000 blocks have been sold in Melbourne’s outer suburbs in the year until June, with some developers struggling to keep up with the demand for serviced land, according to research by Charter Keck Cramer.

So why are so many people willing to sacrifice the convenience of established postcodes, for a block and backyard on the city’s outskirts?

For Jane and Charles Kerbage, it comes down to value for money and a traditional sense of community – one where neighbours still knock on your door for a cup of sugar.

“It’s a different feel from the inner city where people hide behind their houses,” Mr Kerbage said.

When the couple first ventured out to the then-burgeoning western suburb of Caroline Springs about 1999, blocks in the housing estate were being sold for $29,000 out of a caravan on the side of the Western Freeway.

Friends asked them why they would move “out the end of nowhere” and even today, when Caroline Springs has its own police station, post office and department store, people still say “it’s so far from everything”.

Soon the Kerbages will move even further out west, with their two daughters, to a bigger house on a new block of land in the new Woodlea Estate, still living and chasing The Great Australian Dream.

One of Melbourne’s new housing estates. Photo: Penny StephensWhy buy an apartment, when you can have a house?

Affordability remains the key driver behind the popularity of greenfield housing estates. The average price of a serviced block in Melbourne is $221,730, less than half the price of lots in Sydney, which average $460,375.

This means while you might pay $1 million for a property in Ascot Vale, Heidelberg and Thornbury, you can still buy a new three-bedroom house within a 30-kilometre radius of the CBD for less than $400,000.

Unlike the apartment market, which is dominated by investors, between 40 to 50 per cent of those who buy a house and land  in the outer suburbs are first-home buyers. Photo: SuppliedThe enduring aspiration of home ownership

Those closest to the housing estate industry say the Great Australian Dream remains a real and “unabated” aspiration in Melbourne, with people feeling a need to own their own house, preferably with a lawn and backyard.

Matthew Chun, the chief executive of builder Simonds Group, said huge importance was still placed on owning land.

“I think that’s not just in the Australian psyche, it’s also felt by people who come from other countries where they don’t have that opportunity.”

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