House Prices in Australia: Losing the Plot

I have quite a few posts about house prices and I’ve also written one about the size of Australian houses and plots of land. Surely it wasn’t that long ago that I was bragging my house is bigger than your house?

Turns out it was quite a while ago, I wrote that post in December 2009 when, for the first time, Australia overtook the United States as the country with the biggest houses in the world.

One GFC later, and I’m not referring to Gillingham or Geelong Football Clubs, but, of course, the global financial crisis, and things appear to be changing.

News just out has revealed that plot sizes here in Australia are getting smaller to meet the new demand for lower-priced properties.

At the moment, around where I live, the minimum size plot for a detached house is 450 square metres, unless it is what’s called a laneway property, which is effectively a house built behind an existing house, where the minimum size is 600 square metres.

Now, Queensland developers are apparently following the downsizing trend which has taken off in the US since the already mentioned financial troubles. The smallest blocks of land quoted that I’ve seen are 7.5 metres x 25 metres. So 187 square metres in all.

Given what people are used to in these parts, that probably sounds incredibly small. But it got me thinking.

The first ever property I bought was way back, probably about 1980 or 81. It was a single person’s flat, with no front or back garden or garage space. I reckon it measured something like 6 metres wide by perhaps 8 metres deep.

48 square metres in all. Amazingly, I have a picture.

Here is a very old photograph of an incredibly young BobinOz, with some friends from my past, all sitting outside the front of that single person’s flat enjoying a few Sunday afternoon drinks. You are almost seeing the entire width of that flat, there’s probably only another metre and a half outside of the picture, to the left.

My old flatThe next house I bought was what we English call a typical “three up, three down” house. That usually refers to 3 bedrooms upstairs, with three rooms downstairs, including the kitchen.

It was terraced, which means it was connected and squashed between two other houses, so if you were to bang on the walls, next door would shout “what do you want!?”

It did have a very small front garden; the path to the door was probably only two metres. The back garden may, at best, have been about 5 metres deep.

In total, I reckon that was on land about seven metres wide by 14 deep, so 98 square metres in all. Here’s what it looked like…..

terraced house

So now, 7.5 metres x 25 metres, or 187 square metres doesn’t seem so small after all, does it?

And the plan is that these new, smaller plots of Australian land, complete with a newly built house, will sell in packages starting at $320,000.

Now I need to convert that into English pounds. Ouch! That’s the first time I’ve looked for a while. 1 GBP is currently worth a staggeringly low $1.50.

So $320,000 is currently worth about £213,000.

Now, thanks to the wonderful thingy called the inter-web, I can search online and instantly find the current average house value for each of those two streets.

First off, that single person apartment which was on about one quarter of the new smaller Australian proposed plot size…..

£110,103

And now one of those terraced houses on the plot about half the proposed Australian size….

£147,185

Make of all that what you will, but the way I see it, despite the very poor exchange rate from a UK point of view, houses here are still very favourably priced. Australians may look at these new plot sizes in disgust, but they are still twice the size of some family homes back in England.

Here in Australia, you can buy a brand-new and bigger house on plot twice the size for less than 50% more money.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Paul Jones January 28, 2015, 11:04 am | Link

    Not only are house prices (and rent) ridiculously expensive, the plot size is getting worse by the month. Developers are cramming in houses on stupidly small areas and privacy has become a thing of the past.

    Were things really this bad back in the UK? I’m on ‘good money’ and I can barely survive here these days. How on earth do people with lower-paid jobs survive?

    • BobinOz January 29, 2015, 12:39 am | Link

      Things were much worse in the UK, plots were incredibly small, much smaller than they are here, and houses are not cheap there either. This is luxury, as Monty Python would say.

      I’m guessing, are you in Sydney or Melbourne Paul?

  • Display Homes Perth August 15, 2011, 12:59 pm | Link

    Compared to other developed nations, Australian homes are relatively bigger. But this also makes the costs higher. Since the global financial crisis took off, sizes of Australian homes have dwindled in order to save money.

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