The Detail Driven Demographic
As the tide of investors moves out of the market, the owner occupiers become more visible on the surface.
I caught up with Paul Barratt of CBRE last week for a coffee in West End to get a deeper insight and compare notes on the current state of the resi market in Brisbane. In particular, I wanted his take on the success of a project we have designed in Wynnum. The project is a hybrid of typologies from single and two level apartments to three storey townhouses, most with bay views.
It was Paul’s feedback from the agents “on the ground” that I was most interested in.
The marketing approach has been relatively “old school”, aimed very directly at a local owner-occupier market wanting the convenience, lifestyle and amenity that apartment living can offer. Potential residents are encouraging their friendship group to also buy in. This word of mouth referral system has now become a recurring theme in other similar projects we have been involved in.
His take is that designing for this market is “not a case of applying better finishes to an investor grade product”. The entire vision from the client, agent and architect needs to be “hard wired” into satisfying this demanding demographic.
They don’t want to have to “tick a multitude of option boxes, but expect that what they purchase is “fully optioned up”. This creates its own challenges and opportunities.
Paul believes the potential purchasers are seeking a real depth of understanding about the intricate detail of the product, i.e. How many shelves in the robe? What material are the sun screens? Who is the developer and the builder? Cost per se is not the main driver.
Paul says “this purchase is seen by many as the last they may make, seeing them well into their independent retirement years”. This creates a very distinct set of criteria for purchasing: What are the materials? Will they age well? How are those windows configured? What are the ongoing costs?
Interestingly, the second dominate buyer group are local families. Typically, they have two children. Some of this group are also first home owners, although they may already have other property investments. For them, the appeal is the amenity, convenience and public transport to the city.
This is consistent with our own post occupancy research from other apartment projects. We find the owners obsess with details as fine as the GPO locations, dimmers to lights, vacuum cleaner storage and serviceability of specific floor finishes.
Every challenge creates opportunity. As Paul says, one of the biggest fears of the new residents is “has the Architect got it right?”. I think that this is the “new“ opportunity we and our clients have – how to truly engage this detail driven demographic.