Sydney Morning Herald, April 7 2007
By Susan Wellings

Large apartments can provide the best of both worlds to downsizers from big houses.

The kids may have left home but all those empty rooms still need to be cleaned and the garden they once played in kept spick and span. If you have a nagging feeling that your house is too big, it could be time to downsize.

“There are so many people now looking at downsizing their lives,” says David Wyatt, the convenor of Downshifting Downunder, a group that encourages people to live more environmentally sustainable lives.

“People spend so much time looking after big houses they feel their quality of life is suffering. So now they’re taking a second look.”

For many, that means selling the big family home and moving into an apartment: no unused rooms and less maintenance. A bonus, if you move into something less expensive, is that it frees up cash.

“We’ve found baby boomers are doing this more and more,” says social researcher Mark McCrindle. “It allows them to unlock capital for their lifestyles too, so they can keep up their materialistic and consumer-electronic-driven world, they can travel and they can spend their kids’ inheritance.
“All these empty-nesters are moving from the suburbs into quality apartments closer to the city.”

Discerning Market

“When people want to downsize, they still want good-sized apartments,” says real estate agent Erle Cramer. “The location and the views are also important. They’re more discerning, too, about good design. The kids may have moved out, the upkeep of the gardens and pool may be taking too much time, they may want to spend more time with the family or just live it up more.”

The downsizers may also want to live closer to city amenities such as theatres and cinemas, or doctors and hospitals.

“But that doesn’t mean they want to forgo some of the features they liked about their big houses,” says Jacque Parker of buyers agents House Search Australia.

“They want car spaces and enough visitor parking so their friends can drop by and, since many had gardens, most will want a balcony or outdoor area. They can afford to be fussy as they might be planning to live there for a while.”

Another popular facility is a concierge service, says Laing + Simmons agent D’Eanne Lewis.
“They’re looking for an easier life and that’s a very welcome aspect.”

Older asset-rich baby boomers are interested in the market’s top selections. There’s a real shortage of three-bedroom apartments for this sector, says Laing Real Estate sales manager Anthony Birdsall.
“That demand for top properties means the high end of the market is strong at the moment,” he says.
“These people are cashed up and looking for good quality, good-sized space.”

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