Paul Blackburne debunks apartment glut ‘myth’

Source: The West Australian

Blackburne Property Group managing director Paul Blackburne says he’s perplexed about talk of tough times for Perth’s apartment market.

Mr Blackburne, who last month ranked fifth on BRW’s Young Rich list, says it might take six months rather than six days to sell a project but he considers that “a more normal market rather than a rough market”. “We will hit 200 off-the-plan sales this year worth $120 million,” Mr Blackburne told The West Australian.

“We are very comfortable. We think the percentage of people living in apartments (in Perth) will double over the next 20 years.

“People have the impression things are tough in apartments. Things aren’t just walking out the door but for long-term, professional developments, where you have a good design, good location and a good price, it’s turning over.”

Mr Blackburne’s comments are supported by WA Apartment Advocacy, which says its research “refutes” claims of an apartment glut.

WAAA director Samantha Reece said, based on WAAA’s research, last month across 53 metropolitan land subdivisions there were 1249 blocks for sale. That compares with Urbis figures, released in September, which revealed that of 3665 apartments being built, two-thirds had sold.

“This equates to approximately 1237 available apartments under construction,” Ms Reece said.

“Everyone talks about an apartment glut but when you look at land versus apartments, there’s very little difference in available stock.”

Blackburne Property Group, buoyed by the success of its Aria luxury apartments at Swanbourne — winner of the UDIA’s high- density development award — has another four projects under construction or about to start.

They are:

  • The $80 million Oracle project, at 108 Stirling Street, Perth, which has 137 apartments, with 90 sold and 47 available, part way through construction.
  • The $30 million The Cove, at Minim Cove, with 26 apartments, 16 sold, 10 available. Construction started on Monday.
  • The $40 million 12-storey Enclave, East Perth, with 70 apartments, 35 sold. Starting construction in February.
  • The $30 million Azure in Rockingham, with 52 apartments, 20 sold and construction to start in May.

“That’s five projects (including Aria) under construction or about to start,” Mr Blackburne said. “There’s 500 apartments worth $300 million.”

Blackburne also plans next year to launch expressions of interest for a 100-apartment project at Ascot Waters Marina and a 140-apartment block at Claremont on the Park.

Mr Blackburne identifies 18 to 30-year-olds and 50 to 80-year-olds as his key market, saying they make up 90 per cent of apartment dwellers. While he concedes the demand for three-bedroom apartments and the interest from families is growing, it is Ms Reece who expresses frustration about the lack of housing choice for families.

Mr Blackburne said 80 per cent of the Rockingham buyers at Azure were local owner-occupiers wanting to downsize.

The other big trend in apartment living, Mr Blackburne said, was the concierge-style service, offered at Aria, where, for a price, residents could request housekeeping, shopping and medical services. Blackburne planned to extend this service, in partnership with aged-care services provider Amana Living at Claremont on the Park, he said.