The appeal of townhouses for first-time buyers and downsizers

In its report, The Advantages of Living and Investing in a Townhouse, property consultants Urbis say townhouses are emerging “with many of the attributes of a traditional family home yet offering a number of distinctive advantages over most apartment developments”.

Demand has risen substantially due to the significant increase in the number of one- and two-person households over the past 20 years.

The long-term trend in declining household sizes reflects people marrying and/or having children later in life and the ageing population.

Single-minded outlook

Urbis predicts that over the next 10 years, of all the new households created, 35 per cent are expected for lone persons and 35 per cent for couples without children.

“Australians and New Zealanders in the future will have smaller households, increasingly comprising lone young singles, elderly singles, elderly and young couples with no children.”

The view is reflected by a Grattan Institute report, The Housing We’d Choose, in which almost 50 per cent of respondents indicated they would be prepared to live in medium-density dwellings (apartments and townhouses).

The dwelling attributes (number of bedrooms, garage, pool), safety and security (access to secure parking), convenience and locational attributes — access (proximity to a shopping centre and public transport) and attractiveness of environment (proximity to a park and cleanliness) influenced purchasing decisions.

It concluded that the size and number of spaces in a dwelling are more important than if the dwelling is attached or detached and that a townhouse “satisfies the main influences on dwelling purchase choices”.

First choice offers a lasting impact

Intrapac Property chief operating officer Max Shifman says townhouses are a fantastic choice for first-time buyers and investors.

“Townhouses typically provide more space and amenity than apartments, while being more affordable compared with detached homes in the same area,” Mr Shifman says.

“But the price is not always the determinant. We are seeing a clear trend towards more compact housing — be it for young professionals, growing families or downsizers. Not everyone wants the hassle of looking after a large home and block of land; townhouses are much lower maintenance, meaning less time doing the lawn, and providing the flexibility to lock up and leave at a whim. 

“When buying, buyers should always take note of the level of inclusions and finishes to ensure their expectations are met. As always, it is best to deal with reputable developers with a track record of delivering high-quality homes in the right locations. Price can be a constraint where affordability is key, but the quality will always leave buyers better off in the longer term.”

Furthermore, Mr Shifman says downsizing options, such as townhouses, are becoming an increasingly desirable option. 

How to view downsizing 

“The tide is turning on townhouses — from young first-home buyers who don’t want a huge home, to the influential baby boomer wanting to downsize for the convenience of a lock-up and leave home base,” Shifman says. “Some call it smart-sizing.

“In 2020, Australia’s median age was almost 40. In 1980, it was just 29. With around one in four people soon to be aged over 60, the need for suitable homes for downsizing is only going to increase. Moving to a townhouse and releasing some wealth from the family home to assist with retirement, is a great option that many will consider over the coming decade.”

Mr Shifman says the trick to downsizing is to consider the move as a chance to clean up and increase your spare time with less stress as you maintain a smaller home and garden.

  AUS Eastern Standard Time (Virginia)

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