7 Dec 2015

Kate Emery
The West Australian
6 December 2015
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Perth apartments are getting smaller, with about one in 10 sold in big developments now less than 50sqm.

As at October this year, the average apartment size in Perth was 42sqm for a studio, 53-54sqm for a one-bedroom and 67sqm for a two-bedroom dwelling, according to Urbis research.

That compared with an average of 58sqm and 87sqm for one and two-bedroom apartments respectively over the past 10 years.

Margaret George inside her 29m2 East Perth apartment she shares with her husband Matthew. Picture: Megan Powell / The West Australian.

The figures, based on sales in complexes containing at least 25 apartments, showed that for the three months to October 31, 12 per cent of apartments sold were smaller than 50sqm, up from 8 per cent for the same period last year.

Small does not necessarily mean cheap, with 40-65sqm one-bedroom apartments at Elizabeth Quay’s The Towers now selling for $640,000 to $1,050,000.

Housing affordability, better designs and a growing acceptance of apartment living were credited with driving the trend.

However, few experts expected Perth to embrace the “micro apartments” popular in cities such as New York and Tokyo.

Urbis economics director David Cresp said shaving even 5sqm off an apartment could make a big difference to price.

Part of the reason apartments are getting smaller is the same reason lot sizes are shrinking — it’s the chase for a more affordable product.

“Part of the reason apartments are getting smaller is the same reason lot sizes are shrinking — it’s the chase for a more affordable product,” Mr Cresp said.

“Part of it is better design allowing for smaller apartments. It’s not about trying to create small dogboxes.”

Urban Development Institute of Australia WA president and QUBE Property Group director Rhys Kelly said small apartments were becoming more liveable by the inclusion of communal spaces, such as dining rooms to cater for dinner parties and shared gardens.

Margaret George, 27, said when she and husband Matthew bought a 29sqm East Perth apartment in September, the priority was to buy somewhere central so it would hold its value.

“I actually really like it,” she said.

“My husband insisted in moving in all our king-sized furniture but for the time we spend in it, it’s great.”

WA’s residential design codes advocate a minimum apartment size of 50sqm or 40sqm for habitable rooms and living space.

However, those rules do not apply to inner-city areas under the control of the Metropolitan Development Authority or apartments built before the rules were introduced.

Sydney recently introduced new rules on a minimum apartment size, worrying some in the industry who said it would stifle creativity.

WA Planning Minister John Day said the codes were used to make planning decisions and while there could be “some flexibility”, design and liveability were priorities.