Luxury apartment buyers demand stunning facilities

During the post-GFC, investment-led recovery period, apartments were built on a smaller scale, offering maximum affordability. Those luxurious communal facilities were the first things to go.

Andrew Leoncelli, managing director of residential project marketing at consulting firm CBRE Residential Projects, says while the sophisticated owner-occupier market had been starved of quality offerings, the last 24-months have seen developers catering to the discerning luxury market.

"Everyone was conscious about ongoing body corporate costs, so developers ripped out communal facilities," he says.

"Now they're back in absolute abundance. In fact, they're the point of difference between selling projects and not."

CBRE are currently handling Singaporean developer World Class Land's towering Australia 108 in Melbourne's Southbank, designed by renowned architecture firm Fender Katsalidis, as well as Golden Age Group's Bates Smart-designed Collins House in the CBD and St Kilda Road's sculptural Opera. All three projects showcase the kind of impressive amenities that are now must-haves for discerning buyers.

They want and expect a decent-sized swimming pool, rooftop terraces, theatre rooms and communal spaces that offer a wow factor.

Andrew Leoncelli

"They want and expect a decent-sized swimming pool, rooftop terraces, theatre rooms and communal spaces that offer a wow factor," Leoncelli says. "They love having private dining rooms so they can entertain on a much bigger scale with grander views in different parts of the building, not just inside their own apartments."

Work out with a view

Leoncelli notes that gone are the days when the gym was located in a sad little corner devoid of light with one running machine and a stack of dumb bells. Australia 108's Sky Lounge has top-notch gym, pool and spa facilities rivalling any five-star resort with knock-out views to match.

"That really appeals to the health conscious because they don't need to join an external gymnasium, they can genuinely train hard without leaving the building."

Cinema rooms are another major drawcard, especially for big sporting events like the upcoming AFL Grand Fin, as are humidor-style wine storage facilities.

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"Storage is generally something you can't have enough of," Leoncelli says. "People are happy spending money as long as they are getting value and benefit in services. Australia 108 will be like bees to the honey pot. Residents in all of the Southbank buildings without excellent facilities will be dragged to it like a magnet because of the vast array of world-class amenities with low running costs because there are 1105 apartments."

Downsize and upgrade

Roy Marcellus, sales and marketing director of Sydney-based developer Crown Group, responsible for a range of prestige projects the length and breadth of the city including Infinity, Skye and Top Ryde City Living, agrees.

"I've seen thousands of exchanges and I'm actually meeting more and more people, especially downsizers, looking for high-quality amenities simply because they are ready to downsize, but they aren't ready to downgrade life."

Whether it's a family looking to enjoy the benefits of city centre living without sacrificing the gardens with BB facilities and swimming pool or downsizers looking for all the benefits without maintenance worries and still have fun spaces to play with the grandkids, Marcellus says top-class amenities provide an invaluable escape from apartment life.

"They've been working hard for the majority of their life and they want a great building that provides not just extra space and beautiful facilities, but also status."

According to Marcellus, it's not just the owners getting the most out of world-class communal facilities, including city-view infinity pools and expansive libraries. "For savvy investors, these amenities actually hold value. More and more they are understanding that if they are well-designed, they actually hold value for a lot longer time and it becomes one of the unique selling points."