19 JUNE 2019

I write this piece as one of the lucky apartment owners. Lucky not because I managed to break into the apartment market, but because I survived it financially intact.The predicament facing Opal Tower and Mascot Towers apartment owners is only the visible tip of a very big iceberg. So my advice to my kids today, and anyone who’ll listen, is this: do not buy a new apartment, especially if it is over three stories high.

This mess has been with us now for many years as ever bigger apartment buildings have been pumped out to meet demand in rapidly growing cities. Quantity has trumped quality and the needs of the consumer. The poor companies are low-cost, low-standard outfits. The good companies have to compete with this and it tends to be a race to the bottom. As one builder told me candidly, “if they buy rubbish, we will build rubbish”.

Governments appear to have been looking the other way, too. Review after review has raised issues with the regulation of the industry. Confidence in new apartment offerings has been shattered at the very time that builders and developers are facing a downturn. While I feel for the good companies, and I am sure there are some, the industry’s neglect of the end consumer will probably hurt them all.

The failure of apartment living to work is a disaster for the wider community too. How do we meet the housing needs of the future if people shy away from apartment living? What are the economic consequences of a collapse in the demand for new apartments? Effective public policy initiatives, including effective consumer protection for apartment owners, are economic imperatives. In the meantime, if you are tempted to buy a new apartment over three levels, don’t.

> Read the full article at ABC.net.au
Philip Gall