BUILDING BUILD TO RENT. HOW AUSTRALIA’S TOP DEVELOPERS ARE LOOKING TO CHANGE THE GAME
One of the biggest stories in property this year is the potential for a new build to rent residential sector. Touted as both a solution to our housing affordability crisis and an alternative investment vehicle for cashed-up institutional investors, the case for build to rent in Australia, similar to the UK model and US multi-family housing, seems to make sense for everyone, developers included.
However, it’s not just a matter of building more apartments designed to be rented out long-term. As a recent research paper by JLL pointed out, for build to rent to establish itself as a viable sector in Australia, parameters and policy around residential investment and ownership will need to continue shifting.
Aside from disrupting the present status quo of private investment in strata titled rental stock, there are strong disincentives for developers – high land borrowing and construction costs and long lead times to finish a project coupled high taxation such as land tax, GST, corporate taxes plus a multitude of local government developer levies, charges and fees. In other words, circumstances around developing build to rent projects in Australia’s large cities are far from ideal.
Yet two of Australia’s biggest developers, Mirvac and Lendlease, are reportedly moving on the sector. JLL predicts the growth profile of build to rent to be large and fast, and worth $40 billion even as a moderate estimation. Discussion on how to make it happen is unlikely to go away.
MP Report spoke to some of Australia’s leading developers taking a different approach to pioneering the build to rent sector here.
For developers Lateral Estate and Gurner, the goal is to emulate the hugely successful USA- style institutional investment grade ‘multi-family’ portfolios. In this model, the developer builds and holds all apartments as a single portfolio of amalgamated properties for the benefits of rental income and capital growth as a stabilised long term asset. Or, the developer builds and sells to an institution, who will hold the portfolio for the mentioned benefits. In an expensive and undersupplied property market, this type of build to rent initiative also works to provide an affordable housing solution on a mass scale.
In Australia, the institutional investor benefits are not there yet for this style of investment-grade product to be feasible, largely due to government policy and funding disincentives.
For developers like Metro, build to rent means keeping to the more traditional approach of selling apartments off the plan to individual investors, and providing assistance and incentives to ensure rental tenancy or surety of rental income to those investors. Under current tax legislation this approach remains the more feasible option for Australian developers, but it doesn’t necessarily provide the support required for an undersupplied housing market and affordable housing solution.
Metro Opens Second Sydney Office on the Back of NSW Success
Metro Property Development (“Metro”) has experienced significant growth since launching in New South Wales in 2015, with its home building arm Creation Homes. The significant demand for new and affordable homes and townhomes across Sydney’s growth suburbs has led Metro to open a second office in Sydney’s North-West. Metro and Creation Homes first opened its doors in North Sydney two and a half years ago. With the growing Creations Home team, it has been necessary to move to a second office in Baulkham Hills, while the Metro team with stay in North Sydney. Creation Homes has leased a 483 square metre suite at 46 Brookhollow Avenue from Westco Group Pty Ltd on a four year term with the option of renewal. The new office includes a client display area featuring kitchens, bathrooms and finishes board. “We are thrilled with the market’s response to Metro and Creation Homes and expect to continue to expand, with people drawn to our high quality offerings and affordable prices. The past couple of years have demonstrated that New South Wales is set to be as successful and enduring as Metro and Creation Homes are in other states,” said Phil Leahy, General Manager of Sales and Marketing. A total of 264 land parcels has been sold since 2015. In that time, Metro and Creation Homes have launched a 170 lot estate in Catherine Field, 25 house and land packages in Kellyville and 74 house and land packages in Spring Farm, as well as a luxury development on Strathfield Golf Course comprising 50 town homes. They also have projects in Box Hill in Sydney’s North West, and Leppington in the South West. Its pipeline of projects in Sydney for the next 12 months is valued at more than $200 million and includes freestanding, town house and terrace product. Metro’s vision is to continue to offer house and land packages in growth areas although going forward, focus will be on townhomes and terraces where Metro sees a gap in the market. “While we have predominately focused on the South-West and North-West regions of Sydney, there are definitely plans to look at other areas across Sydney in the future including town home and terrace product in the middle ring and closer to the city”, said Phil Leahy. Across Australia, Metro currently has over 2,000 apartments, townhouses and homes under construction, which are more than 90% per cent sold out. A key point-of-difference for Metro is its dedicated wholesale townhouse and home building business, Creation Homes, which was recognised by BRW as the 7th fastest growing company in 2013. Creation Homes builds for other major developers, some of them high-profile Australian companies, as well as for its own home and land buyers. The company is renowned for excellence in client relationships, contract administration, workflow management and construction management.
Stylish living has a new home at The Lincoln South Yarra
Luxury living in one of Melbourne’s premiere suburbs has a new address, with Metro Property Development’s boutique development, The Lincoln South Yarra, now complete with residents moving in.
Located on the corner of picturesque Motherwell and Cromwell Roads, The Lincoln’s stylish architecture by Rothelowman and interior designs by Nexus Designs saw the development sell-out quickly with the owner-occupier market.
Metro State Manager, David Steele, said the completion of The Lincoln was a highlight in the company’s focus on luxury living in Melbourne’s middle-ring suburbs.
“When we launched The Lincoln, we received a huge amount of interest from owner-occupiers who were keen to secure a luxury apartment in Melbourne’s prime inner-city suburb of South Yarra,” Mr Steele said.
“With a focus on a high level of quality and finishes, we are exceptionally proud to unveil the finished product and welcome residents who have already started moving in.”
“The Lincoln was designed and built with the owner-occupier market in mind. From the intimate one bedroom apartments to the grand three-bedroom designs, we really did pull out all stops to deliver luxury living. We are thrilled with what Rothelowman, Nexus Designs and Christopher Boots have created for Metro.”
The Rothelowman designed development was carefully created to reflect the sleek sophistication and elegance of its inner-city location. The style of each apartment and the attention to detail in all common areas was thoughtfully crafted by Nexus Designs and complimented with lighting by Christopher Boots.
The boutique development, which includes 38 one, two and three bedroom apartments with a variety of floorplans available across four levels, was built by well-known Melbourne builder, Cobild, who completed construction of The Lincoln late last month.
The Lincoln’s completion is the third Melbourne boutique development to be completed in the past six months, with Metro’s Acacia Residences in Balwyn and Saxon Residences in Ivanhoe completed in November and January respectively.
Metro is also on track with its inner-west developments, with the Highbury Townhomes at West Footscray Stage One due for completion and settlement from June and the recently launched George & Stone in Maidstone 100% sold out in one and a half weeks.
Metro snaps up another South West Sydney Residential Site
Metro Property Development has acquired its second development site in South Western Sydney purchasing a 60,000 sqm site in the emerging suburb of Spring Farm. Located at 71 Springs Road in the Camden Shire, the site has an existing DA approval for 74 individual house and land lots sized from 383 to 650 square metres. It is situated within the Western Village of the Spring Farm Master Planned Estate, a short distance from Spring Farm Shopping Centre and was formerly part of a Mirvac project. Metro Property will package and sell each lot as a full turnkey house and land offering through its building arm Creation Homes. The project is expected to launch early in late April, 2017 with an average lot price of $436,000 or $680,000 to $795,000 for a house and land package. “This site represents one of the few available land parcels in this growth area in South West Sydney with lots of major players active in the region including Urban Growth and The Cornish Group. We have has been looking to acquire more land after the success of our Eden project in the neighboring area of Catherine Field,” said Phil Leahy of Metro Property Development. “Housing affordability remains an on‐going issue across the greater Sydney market and we have found many savvy buyers are opting to relocate to these emerging growth areas seeking to secure an affordable, high‐quality brand new home.” Since mid 2016, Metro Property has sold more than 125 house and land packages in its 150‐lot Eden project located at 719‐735 Camden Valley Way. Metro Property has seen rapid sales achieved since launching Eden, with an average price of $755,000 achieved. Buyers have included a mix of first home buyers including families and couples from nearby local areas and from suburbs including Kogarah, Hurstville, Canterbury, Liverpool, Fairfield and Bankstown. The new Spring Farm site is a short distance from Camden and in close proximity to the new Narellan town centre, both M5 and M7 motorways. It is a short drive an easy drive to the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek and the proposed train stations at Narellan and Oran Park. Construction of the homes is expected to commence later this year with overall completion in late 2018.
Metro signs deal with Aurora Group for Brisbane management rights portfolio
Metro Property Development (“Metro”), has finalised an unconditional deal with Aurora Group for the management rights to 710 apartments across its Newstead Towers, Broadway on Ann and Aqua at Newstead Central developments in Brisbane’s inner-city.
The portfolio, one of the biggest to hit the market in Brisbane, includes the recently finished Newstead Towers (314 apartments) and the soon to be completed Broadway on Ann (247 apartments) and Aqua at Newstead Central (149 apartments), which are due for completion within the next six weeks.
Metro Marketing Director, Ken Woodley, said the portfolio sale was in line with its strategy of not retaining management rights in its developments.
“Metro’s main focus is on the development, sales and marketing and construction of projects. The sale of management rights is part of our overall strategy which enables us to focus on what we do best and move on quickly to the next project,” Mr Woodley said.
“This sale was quite unique, both for us and the market, in that it’s one of the biggest management portfolios to hit the market in Brisbane. Aurora Group is a very experienced major player in the management rights arena with more than 1,168 apartments and townhomes under their management.”
Resort Brokers Australia National Off-The-Plan Specialist, Tim Crooks, who was the exclusive agent for the sale, said an extensive national campaign attracted widespread interest and resulted a competitive price being achieved for the portfolio.
“It was an extremely competitive process with a number of offers submitted at record multipliers for off-the-plan, permanent-let management rights. The purchase price of this management rights portfolio represents a 5.2x multiplier which is the highest result to settle for an off-the-plan residential development in Brisbane we have seen for over 30 years,” Mr Crooks said.
Mr Woodley said a portion of the apartments in these developments have been purchased by investors who are keen to tap into Brisbane’s rental market and high demand for new inner-city apartments.
“Brisbane’s inner-city, particularly Fortitude Valley and Newstead, is experiencing significant rental demand. Across our recently completed Newstead Towers and Canterbury Towers we have received more than 1,500 rental enquires across these developments alone,” Mr Woodley said.
“We expect to see similar demand for Aqua and Broadway on Ann in the coming weeks once the rental campaigns kicks off.”
Recent research undertaken by Metro of six of its completed inner-city developments showed that only six apartments were available to rent from the initial 1202 on offer.
“Metro has a historical vacancy factor of less than 0.5% which is an outstanding result. On average one-bedroom apartments were only vacant for five days while two-bedroom apartments were vacant for less than 12 days,” Mr Woodley said.
“Metro’s focus on extensive resident facilities such as man- made beaches, resort style swimming lagoons, gymnasiums and a country club lounge with billiards room is what is attracting the rental market compared to an older apartment complex with no facilities.”
Aurora Group currently have more than 1,000 apartments and townhouses under their management across Brisbane, and a further 168 apartments under their management on the Gold Coast.
Since forming in 2010, Metro has delivered more than 5,000 homes, townhomes and apartments across Australia.
Metro was ranked the fastest growing private company in 2015 in the Top 500 Private Companies List released by The Australian and IBISWorld in September and ranked 108 overall.
For more information about Metro’s upcoming launches visit www.metroprop.com.au or search metro_au on social media.