Smarter, smaller homes needed to resolve affordability issues, Future Housing Taskforce head says
Smaller, smarter properties are key to resolving affordability and practicality issues, says the head of a new Queensland-based taskforce on future housing.
Home ownership remains out of reach for many Australians despite record low interest rates.
The average median house price in metropolitan Brisbane is $475,000, with 28 per cent of household income devoted to mortgage repayments.
Photo: The average median house price in metropolitan Brisbane is $475,000. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
The Future Housing Taskforce has been set up to tackle housing affordability issues and is made up of people from the property and local government.
The taskforce created the Smarter Small Home, which was similar in design to a home and granny flat or a boarding house.
Future Housing Taskforce founder Kevin Doodney said smaller, smarter properties were key to resolving affordability and practicality issues.
“We're catching up to what the Europeans have been doing for decades.”
Logan Mayor Pam Parker
"Mortgages have always been greater than you could ever earn, so basically this is the first step to mortgage-free housing for first home buyers," Mr Doodney said.
Mr Doodney said the property looked like a modern one- or two-storey home from the outside, but was actually three or four dwellings - separated by firewalls - on one block.
"Instead of taking a typical four-bedroom home - which by the way means you've got 12 million vacant bedrooms as a result - we create a three-bedroom home using the same space, adding this to it, and then with a 200-square-metre home you've now got three separate tenancy opportunities," Mr Doodney said.
He said a couple could buy the property for about $400,000 and live in one dwelling and rent out the others.
"If you chose to live in the smaller space while there's only two of you and rent the bigger home, your mortgage is free," he said.
"So for the first time we've actually beaten the banks."
Unlike a boarding house or granny flat, the only shared aspect might be a laundry or pathway.
Tiny home concepts needed
Taskforce member Michael Matusik said tiny home concepts like beds that pulled out of walls and mirrors that morphed into dining tables made properties more liveable.
"In a kitchen you've got to do certain things, in a bathroom you've got to do certain things - so they need to be designed around some movement," Mr Matusik said.
"But when it comes to some rooms, do we need them?
"Do we need a separate dining room when we really only entertain once in a blue moon?"
Logan was one of three Queensland councils that supported the Smarter Small Home and recently changed its planning regulations to accommodate the concept.
Logan Mayor Pam Parker said a limited number of houses could be built in particular areas to prevent problems associated with street parking and over-population.
"We're catching up to what the Europeans have been doing for decades," Cr Parker said.
"It's not just home ownership - it's looking at the future issues that are coming our way.
"I think it will go a long way with providing solutions and taking the pressure off the Federal Government in relation to care for the elderly."
More Australians downsizing homes
REIQ president Antonia Mercorella said more Australians were downsizing, particularly as the number of single-person households increased.
But she said smaller homes were one answer to the affordability issue, but the abolition of stamp duty and a boost in housing stock in Queensland would help get more owner-occupiers into the market.
"Statistics we have indicate that there needs to be around 40,000 new homes being built per year to keep up with demand here in Queensland," she said.
"Over the last five years what we've seen is an average of about 30,000."
The Future Housing Taskforce will showcase its compact home concepts in its first display village at Collingwood Park at Ipswich, west of Brisbane, when it opens in early 2016.