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The six trends that buyers really want in a new development: Peter Chittenden

In my last post I covered a few big-picture topics that are important to all buyers.

But we also need to always look beyond current market demographics and consider new emerging trends.

Across a wide variety of projects here are some of the style leaders that buyers are currently looking for in new developments.

Smaller and better

First up there has been a long-term trend towards small. Apartments have been getting smaller, driven by varied factors including cost, but also because the feedback is that buyers are in fact happy with smaller apartments.

But they expect them to be well designed, with the clever use of interior space and in a handy location that offers great local facilities. Small appears to be a good match with today’s busy and highly connected lifestyles.  Like cars, big no longer means better. But as we have seen with cars, design does need to be first rate.

And while we are thinking smaller in terms of space and cost I have previously talked about the emergence of micro apartments that have recently been developed in New York and San Francisco.

While we are yet to see micro apartments here, the number of households with only one or two residents looking for the perfect place to live is on the increase and driving demand for smaller apartments.

These buyers are clearly seeking out apartments in key areas, often in or near CBD positions. For the ideal location this trend is already attracting prices beyond a million dollars and the spread of high-end, one-bedroom apartments with this price tag is set to be much more common.

I feel sure that we will soon be tracking $1 million plus one-bedroom apartments as we did with house prices some 20 years ago. It has already been suggested that Sydney’s median house price will likely reach above $1 million by 2020 and so is it reasonable to expect that apartments will not escape this trend.

Small appliances

Thinking small, we are also seeing the wider use of smaller appliances in apartments, but again matched by quality and convenience.

A great example is the draw dishwasher (first designed in NZ in 1987) and also induction cooktops, combination microwaves and flexible fridges where a freezer converts for wine storage. These are all good examples of popular ideas now turning up in new projects.

The two-bedroom suite

The two-bedroom suite layout is now a very popular design trend with apartment buyers. It’s a simple idea where there are two-master bedrooms, with full bathrooms and walk in robes, then there is a big central living area, this design is very popular with a whole range of buyers and investors.

They are great for shared renters or anyone wanting to have self-contained guest accommodation or for unattached joint buyers.

Social buildings

Buildings designed with a range of shared social spaces are also popular, be that space a well-equipped BBQ area, a library or cinema room.  These are fashionable and this trend neatly fits with the popularity of smaller apartments.

In a number of buildings I have seen recently, the idea is to have a mix of these facilities, with nothing too big so that residents have a variety of options. The shared facilities make it possible to entertain extended family or a small group of friends. Other options now include communal lounge areas, rooftop green spaces and outdoor dining pods.

Being connected

Another key trend is that buildings must have connectivity and that starts with mobile phone reception and wireless internet. Both are extremely important to apartment living and every room needs to be connected. The spread of more people working from home is a factor to keep in mind.

For many buyers, a sense of community is truly important with apartments being convenient for both work and leisure-time activities and the spread of mini-marts, 24-hour and micro fitness centres alongside local cafes and shops are all setting the pace.

Being Green

Energy-efficient living is a big plus, and many buyers are now concerned about a building’s green credentials and that extends well beyond garbage recycling.

Environmental friendliness is a key factor for many buyers when deciding where to live as they look for storm water feed gardens, easy access to bike paths, and evolving popularity of shared car facilities and soon the emergence of plug-in stations for electric cars.

Secure bike storage also gets a tick, but the storage needs to be close to individual apartments not a long walk to a dark corner of the main car park.


Pets are also important, and so this trend for pet friendly buildings are now almost the norm and not the exception.

Some other items on the short-list of design improvements include better lighting, more imagination in the use of colours including kitchen designs and the use of varied materials so that glossy or low-sheen are no longer the only options. Sound proofing feature walls are also an agenda item with big television screens very much a fixture.

It is exciting to think about these trends, because appreciating what buyers are looking for helps lead to better design and I know that developers are more than happy to deliver projects to match what buyers are craving.

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

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