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Future-Proofing Your Apartment

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"Look for the bare necessities… The simple bare necessities” .. or so the song goes, The Bare Necessities, written by Terry Gilkyson, from the animated 1967 Walt Disney film The Jungle Book, paints a happy picture however, while these are catching lyrics, one area they don’t apply to is today’s apartment market.

While, in 1967 apartments or what we used to typically termed ‘flats’ might have managed to attract buyers and tenants with just the ‘simple bare necessities’ today’s market is very different. I’d easily suggest unrecognisable and just the complete opposite to the charming simplicity of the Jungle Book Lyrics.

The apartment market is now characterised by quality and a level of design sophistication that is a world away from what might have past as ‘liveable accommodation’ 50-years ago.

Demographics have driven all of this change. At one end of the mix we have baby boomers and at the other we have millennial's, and many other sub-groups in between. While each demographic-cluster has particular likes and dislikes, there’s a common thread in all of today’s markets that I’d term as looking to future-proof an apartment purchase.

Developers and their consultants are also fully aware of how different, selective and demanding buyers have become in today’s market.

It’s readily acknowledged that apartments have taken a big slice of the housing market. There’s no surprise in that. However, I suggest that what is a far stronger trend is the dominance of buyers who know exactly what they expect from an apartment, indeed an entire project.

They’re wanting an apartment, almost regardless of price, that will meet their lifestyle needs for the long term. They want to future-proof their choice of where to live.

It’s an important perspective for two reasons. Firstly, how comfortable and functional and apartment is for day-to-day living and secondly or equally how an apartment will hold its value for when it comes times to re-sell.

Bedrooms, Bathroom, Balconies and A Whole Lot More

I have noticed these buyers being called ‘fussy’ or ‘picky’, but I suggest these are lazy terms. The terms over-simplify the 360 degree turn we have seen in the market where apartment buyers are entitled in my view, to be painstaking and meticulous about their purchase.

The fact that buyers can be fussy, remains to my thinking a positive for the apartment market as it helps to drive quality and creates a much better end-product. The fact that ‘lazy’ developments are now being punished for a lack of quality is no excuse to back-away from delivering the best product.

Criticism aside, some of the key aspects of lifestyle driven design and finishes that will help future-proof an apartment purchase or new project tend to focus around a number of key areas and bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and balconies are high on that sometimes long and evolving list.

Then there are also a few key areas of utility that do rank highly for instances among millennial's, who tend to be much more value and environmentally driven, than they are attracted by novelty.

In meeting the varied demands of today’s apartment buyer it’s well worth looking at some of the ‘star-qualities’ that will help future-proof any purchase, and here’s just few ideas that our sales team often encounter;

  • Bedrooms – master bedrooms that are a good size, (not a shoe-box), with robes that a deep enough to take a full width hanger, and or WIR robes that do not lead directly to a bathroom, and that also have doors, or at least 50% robe space with doors.
  • Bathroom – there’s been a trend for bathrooms to get smaller and smaller, and that includes en-suites, buyers are turning away from tiny bathrooms, they also want good bathroom storage and that includes under the sink and not exposing the pipes, they are seen as ugly and impractical, wasted space under the sinks that can be used for storage. Another plus comes by including heated towel rails.
  • Balconies – balconies come in for a lot of attention, as apartment buyers greatly value outdoor space. They should be covered with room enough for a 6/8-seat dining table. The space needs to have gas, water and electricity making it liveable and easy to care for plants and it makes cleaning easier. Top floor apartments generally don’t have overhangs, but they should to allow for maximum outdoor activity and a covered space for barbequing. Buyers also have a keen eye for flat-hobs leading out to the balcony from the living area.

Beyond these areas there’s a list of items that a majority of buyers have a keen appreciation for, most are not so much trends but a reflection of the greater maturity in the apartment market and they include:

  • Garbage shoots must come with recycling option – recycling is no longer seen as an option
  • Visitor parking, not only a reasonable number of spots, but buyers also want to know how visitor spaces will be managed, it’s one of the key aspects of building access and management
  • Cabinetry – storage in the apartments has become a sensitive issue, perhaps because projects were focused on lowering build costs the amount of versatile storage (think bulky items) had started to vanish now buyers look for storage beyond a basement storage cage
  • Integrated blinds are also more in demand and those that are electrically operated are a popular option
  • Kitchens have always been a focus however, with older buyers in particular, kitchens need to have gas cooktops and water connections for the fridge, big ones for those ice blocks need for a G&T. Pantries off the kitchen and that includes a walk-in pantry, even a butlers-pantry in bigger apartments. Then we’re always being asked about ovens off the ground, the downsizer or empty nester is getting older. If ovens are built-in and are low-down in the joinery it’s hard to lift the roast out of the oven, that not only annoying but can be dangerous.
  • There’s also a list of general items that when combined together make any apartment more appealing. Such items are recessed lighting it’s very popular and looks exclusive. Croft cornices show attention to detail and are a more elegant away to detail ceilings.
  • Automated lighting and music tied to home automation is no longer a novelty and may very soon be the normal standard of apartment inclusion.

Quality, Innovation and Craftsmanship

A majority of apartment buyers now pay detailed attention to these and many other points. That’s easy to understand when you stop and consider what a big impact each item can have on the future value and lifestyle appeal of any apartment.

In a difficult market they help to attract and engage buyers but in the longer-term many of the items are becoming mandatory.

When buyers consider which apartment, they might like to buy there’s always a lot of time devoted to how every room and area might be used. Off-the-plan we see details, even the smallest detail of apartment layouts and finishes studiously examined.

Here’s a tip when thinking about future-proofing apartment design, if the end product or a particular feature (big or small) creates a twinge of jealousy among a buyer’s family or friends then it might just be a feature that’s worth including

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Peter Chittenden

Managing Director | Residential


Sydney CBD

My professional knowhow stems from an extensive career in Residential property development, project marketing, site acquisition and property valuation.

I rejoined Colliers International 11 years ago as Managing Director, and since then I have worked to grow my team and our Residential division by more than 300%.

Across the country we have successfully launched and sold over 100 Residential projects, and we have played an instrumental role in every aspect of these successes for our clients.

I have built a team that offers the complete end to end service for our clients and customers alike, from the site aquisition right through to the sale and settlement of every last apartment. 

My 30+ years of experience in real estate, and genuine passion for property has seen me involved across numerous key industry bodies and groups, as well as the establishment of my own thought leading blog, with over 4000 followers from within the industry. 

Prior to my time at Colliers International, I held the position of National Sales and Marketing Manager for Stockland Apartments. During his time I launched and managed a national portfolio of major projects and led a large national sales and marketing team. Prior to this, I started and ran my own successful project marketing company, Realm Project Marketing, for three years specialising in large land estates, housing and apartment projects predominantly in NSW, providing a high level of service that extended beyond the traditional sales appointment.

In my earlier role at Colliers International I was the National Director, Residential Land Marketing, where I established a highly successful division which led to the appointment of our business to project market several major estates in Sydney and Melbourne, which commenced long lasting relationships that our business still maintains today. 

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