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The latest happenings in the Melbourne property market. For our Essays and The Secret Agent Report, see our Research page.


Category Archives For: Architecture

Collaborative Consumption

The last decade has brought about unprecedented change in the property sector. The severe rising of asset values, the limitations in building quality, the ageing demographics of “cashed up” baby boomers and the “always connected” ways of the internet.

In response to these changes, Secret Agent has refreshed its brand to meet these rising demands from the baby boomer population as well as todays web savvy/time poor consumer.

We want to give you an “inside perspective” to the way Secret Agent is reaching out to tomorrow’s consumer including the very exciting world of collaborative development.

What is collaborative development?

Collaborative development allows a group of property buyers to help acquire and fund a new development. The benefits are that each owner will be able to have a huge say in how the development will be built, the type of quality invested into the building right down to an individuals preference for how their allocated unit is fitted out.

These benefits would apply to owner occupiers and well as investors.

Sites such as The Point and Collaborative Consumption have shown collective action in other domains. The property frontier is next.

Collaborative development could be a huge drawcard especially to inner city downsizers that have been let down by new developments creating “mass” without the considerations to open space, greenery and low rise accommodation. In other words, its quality and a great place to live that are considered along with profit – rather than profit being the sole focal point.

Example: A concept Secret Agent prepared was a project titled “The Feynman” located near Melbourne Uni. These designs by Secret Agent would create an ideal living arrangement for the down sizer which would be hard to find if being built by a traditional development.

Collective action requires all participants to pre commit to the purchase of land and the development, then the project will to go ahead. Both owner occupiers and investors are welcome to join in.

Secret Agent works as a company because it finds products (houses) for its customers first, rather than customers for its products (traditional Real Estate path).

Feynman Plans

Images from the plans for The Feynman which include analysis of light to ensure that all apartments will receive adequate daylight.


The Value of Light

We’ve always known the importance of good natural light. Apart from the benefits of vitamin D on health, natural light just feels good. It helps make a home “feel good”. Natural light is instinctive to human nature, and the importance of natural light during winter comes at a premium – especially when one is trying to buy their home.

At Secret Agent, we’ve researched to determine whether a clear correlation could be established between average/median house prices and the orientation of the backyard. Our first hunch was that North facing backyards would yield higher prices. This is because a north facing backyard is generally the ideal orientation to capture full light. We have based our data on the quarter from 1st April to 30th June and have used Brunswick, Richmond and Hawthorn to help validate our hypothesis.

These suburbs proved to be excellent samples as they fulfilled the following criteria:

  • High turnover rate for the suburb.
  • Comprised mostly of consistent home type sales (Period Homes)
  • Located in the inner city.


In Hawthorn, West facing backyards had the highest selling prices followed closely by the North. The full Hawthorn statistics are to be released in Secret Agent’s upcoming “The Secret Agent Report” – our research guide. This report will have a Natural light index depending on the orientation of the property.

 

Further Observations

In both Brunswick and Richmond, backyards which have a North facing orientation had the highest average prices for the quarter.

Hawthorn had a higher average price for West facing backyards, with the North (backyards) as a very close second.

North facing backyards surprisingly also had the lowest $/sqm average of all orientations in Brunswick. We note that 6 sales changed hands that were located on busier streets which helped pull back the average $/sqm rate. We also noted that the block size (North facing backyards) were larger in general.

Average price for Brunswick: $725,414

North facing backyard average (Brunswick): $858,000

North facing backyards command a premium of 18.3% more

Average Price for Richmond: $951,029

North facing backyard average (Richmond): $1,105,750

North facing backyards cost 16.27% more

We note that suburbs such as Brunswick tend to have larger block sizes with regards to North and South orientations. Furthermore, single fronted sales were more prevalent with either a West or East facing rear orientation.

 
33 Rosslyn Street West Melbourne.

Big north facing windows allowed this property to have outstanding natural light. Our research suggests that the value in this property is not just about the amount of accommodation, style of property or location; elements such as light also add value to the property.


Vertical Space

We’ve noticed over the past 12 months a continued interest of property buyers to vertical space as opposed to floor area.

Vertical space creates a unique feel that is so often sought in Melbourne and throughout the country. The reasons are not just practical, a wide open property appeals to the biology of the everyday person. The feeling is being free, as opposed to many new apartment buildings that have ceiling heights around

2.4m, and more of a cramped feel. In the case studies we refer to 3 different properties and the marvellous feel attached to each place. All have the benefits of expansive height and all command a premium price as a result.

It would be a super idea to work out not the average per square metre rate, but the average cubic metre rate for many dwellings. That would give a more realistic idea as to the “real space” available, and incentivise many new developers to opening up their spaces during construction.

 


33 Canning St North Melbourne
A ceiling height of 4.7m exists in this property which is absolutely staggering. Compared to the average new build in Victoria being only 2.4m. 33 Canning Street is almost twice the height!

 


54a Eastment Street Northcote
Large open warehouse shell. Sold on the weekend for $707k with 5 bidders. Only 150sqm internally, however the internal space could be used to create three floors.

 


1/40 James St Northcote
Part of an old church. The property has more height than the actual width of the floorplan.

 


Warming Up The Nest

From the team at Apple that brought you the iPod and the iPhone comes the latest innovation to astound the technology world:

A thermostat!

(Wait, did he say a thermo…)

Yes, a thermostat!

Looking at The Nest Learning Thermostat (NLT for short), I initially wondered why I should even look into what seemed like another iteration of a common household appliance.

Then, they blew me away.

The Nest website really does explain everything to you in a nutshell: their new thermostat is a nifty piece of AI, learning what temperatures are your favourite (over a week, needing this ‘training’ seasonally), when you are out of the house and even what time you wake up so it can switch itself on.

What is fascinating is that the NLT functions using Nest Sense, so when you are out it switches itself off or adjusts to save energy consumption in the house (unlike traditional ones, or the new fangled ones which are impossible to use), of which 50% comes from that small thermostat stuck on your wall (fridges apparently only take up a measly 8% in comparison, go figure). It even has adjusted controls to allow for accelerated or decelerated heating/cooling and the Nest Leaf energy saver indicator can in turn educate you on how to best save energy, since a one degree change in temperature can save up to 5% on your energy bill if implemented in the long run!

Like the famous iProducts, Nest founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers have designed the NLT to be avant-garde not only in it’s software but with it’s hardware too, with a ‘chameleon design (that) blends into any wall (by) reflect(ing) any colour’. And what is a new device from the team that brought you the iPod and iPhone without an app to control it remotely?

With the claims on climate change finally ‘substantiated’ in only the more recent years, the world has suddenly gone into a green kick, especially in Australia where Aussie households now have to foot a carbon tax, whether or not you support it. The Nest Team posit that, if ‘taught’ properly, the NLT could save you $173 off your energy bill per annum, which means the tech will effectively ‘pay for itself’ in 17 months.

The NLT: A slice of the future in green technology today, not only saving money but the planet as well as by reducing your carbon footprint, all whilst looking good at the same time. And for all you Melbournians, it should provide a nice, constant micro-climate to come home to, no matter the weather outside.

 

(For further information, please check out the following videos or the Nest website at http://www.nest.com/index.html. Secret Agent is not affiliated or paid to endorse the NLT and only gives it’s fair and honest opinion)


The Green Movement

The next big development push looming is green living.  Green living will become a selling point for many new projects in the pipeline as a way to attract buying interest.

With the carbon tax a constant and likely issue until the next election,  it seems everyone is thinking about green.

Some examples can be found here


China’s Ghost Cities

China’s Ghost Cites;  the problem of growing to quickly

What should be of concern to us,  is the Chinese property market.

For years the market has grown at an unbelievable pace with huge gains being recorded.  The problem

for government officials is that they have had to build entire cities and hope that people will move there.

This has been a success in many instances,  yet in a changing of the times –  some cities are struggling to attract people to them.  Many speculator investors have bought up big in these new cities,  and many are facing potential collapse.

Is China in one big property bubble?  Dateline has a fantastic documentary on this subject  that is worth 20 mins of your time.


A home for any weather

House on the Flight of Birds is a residence designed by Bernardo Rodrigues located on the north side of S. Michael Island in the Azores, Portugal. A very interesting creation indeed.

It just proves how one unusual idea can inspire real innovation in architecture.

For more info and photos, click here.


The Cube Project

It seems fitting more into smaller space is all the rage. We’ve mentioned Gary Cheng – a very talented architect in previous blogs, he designed an apartment, just 30 square metres but features 24 potential spaces.

The Cube Project is the latest creation that reflects a fully livable space crammed into a compact space of just 3x3x3 or 27 cubic metres. The prototype of this tiny home was unveiled at the recent Edinburgh Science Festival in Scotland and attracted a lot of attention indeed.

I’m certain the environment would appreciate us all living in one of these, with the focus on sustainable materials and high efficiency technologies.

What a truly fascinating concept, a livable space in just 27 cubic metres. This idea could be used to solve a number of housing issues that exist all over the world. We are though some way off people accepting such a creation as truly livable. Nonetheless, very innovative.


Taller but smaller

It seems we are going taller but smaller terms of new developments as the trend continues to fit more in limited space.

The proposal for a 35 storey building, built on a tiny 20 by 18 metre block on the corner of Russell and Little Lonsdale Street’s has gained approval. The Crystal is an $80 million project and the latest very tall building to go ahead. At this sort of height the development would tower over the State Library Building’s.

Will this sort of thing be the way of the future? It will certainly assist to solve some of our issues with housing shortage within inner city areas and with this building approval the door has opened to other developers to follow suit.

For more info, check out this article.


Luxury in London

A quick look at London’s new most expensive development. Taking over 5 years to build, it has attracted some of UK’s most notable personalities to buy into the building. Worth a look if you have a spare five minutes.