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AU First-home buyers want urban experience

Property Here - Monday, June 10, 2013

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Demand for inner-suburban apartments  has been particularly strong in the past few months / File

PERTH has finally become one of the most popular suburbs for first-home buyers (FHBs).

Current figures show the city has entered State Treasury’s annual top-20 list of most popular FHB suburbs for just the second time since the list’s inception more than a decade ago.

Outer suburban areas have dominated the list since its inception in 2000, though affordable middle suburbs such as Nollamara and Balga have also grabbed first buyers’ attention.

Finbar chief operations officer Ronald Chan said the demand for inner-suburban apartments had been particularly strong in the past few months.

"They want the urban experience of less commute time to work and immediate access to entertainment, leisure and fitness activities,” he said.

Mr Chan said three Finbar developments, equal to more than 400 apartments, had sold out over the past two months.

LandCorp chief executive Ross Holt also said medium to high-density development around transport centres would be increasingly popular.

"There are significant advantages in the activity centre model, particularly for a younger market that is looking for increased access to services and public transport, as well as the social, environmental and economic benefits,” he said.

But Ray White WA chief executive Mark Whiteman said FHBs would buy whatever and wherever they could afford, but they would face increasing competition for the lower end of the market as a wave of investors returned.

"First-home buyers are still looking for a way into the market, but as investors have started to return, competition has increased,” he said.

"They’re looking for affordable alternatives in the outer suburbs or units in the inner suburbs.

"Depending on where they work or where their family lives, they’ll pick the best and closest option to that whether it’s a house, or an apartment, or whatever, subject to their budget.”

He said savvy FHBs were looking to be as close to amenities as they could get within their budget and more would choose to build as the cost of established properties rose.

Professionals Real Estate Group WA/NT chief executive David Hobbs said first-homebuyers were looking at a range of suburbs and housing types but preferred anything that was low maintenance. Mr Hobbs predicted many would be looking at affordable housing in the northern coastal corridor and along the new northern light rail, if it went ahead.

RE/MAX WA managing director Geoff Baldwin said the surge in FHBs was easing, though with interest rates at an all-time low, homes were still affordable. Mr Baldwin said their expectations had become more realistic because they had seen a bust period.

"We went through a situation in the late ‘90s and early 2000s where first-homebuyers were wanting what second and third-homebuyers had,” he said. “We’re finding people are more conscious of what they’ll be able to afford to put into a home over a few years now rather than thinking, ‘We’ll be OK down the track’.”

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