The humble ‘six-pack’ apartment block — and the individual units in them — are so prized among those who own them, they rarely come up for sale.
But when they do, they are selling fast, defying the recent drop in off-the-plan sales for new units in Brisbane.
Despite a flood of new apartments in the inner city market, real estate agents say single title six-unit blocks and classic art deco apartments are in strong demand, with savvy buyers looking for a solid long-term investment and an opportunity to renovate and reap the returns.
Claudia Marchand of LJ Hooker New Farm recently sold a one-bedroom, art deco apartment at 86 Moreton Street for $517,000 and an entire art deco ‘six-pack’ for $2.95 million.
The heritage-listed property at 32 Moray Street was sold as part of a deceased estate after being owned by the same family for 81 years.
Ms Marchand said there was a big difference between the new “cookie cutter” off-the-plan apartments and the older, boutique apartments, which offered character, larger floorplans and higher ceilings.
“I’ve got more buyers than supply for that type of product — not even just a block, but also single apartments,” she said.
“What is being built today is really contemporary and it’s all a bit cookie cutter, so people really value something that’s different and has character, which is not going to be replicated in the future.
“A unique opportunity is always something people will value.”
Phil Hassid of Phil Hassid Flat Sales said part of the reason ‘six-packs’ were in demand was because owners refused to sell an asset that provided a good stream of cash returns.
“The types of properties I sell, most people hold for a lifetime or at least decades,” he said.
And while tighter lending restrictions had put some buyers off, Mr Hassid said it was worth going through the short-term pain of dealing with the banks for the long-term gain.
“The bottom line is these are still great investments,” he said.
“In the long run you’re going to do brilliantly.”
And he believes now is the time to buy.
“At some point in time, when the construction wave finally abates, there is going to be an almighty catch up that will unleash a wave of sales,” Mr Hassid said.
A new Jones Lang LaSalle report, there are currently 8800 new units under construction across 46 projects in Brisbane, but smaller developments such as ‘six-packs’ which are targeted more at owner occupiers are in decline.
Property analyst Michael Matusik recently noted that the number of ‘walk-up’ units across the country had fallen by 56,000 dwellings since 2006, while the number of mid-to-high rise apartments had lifted by 194,000 new homes.
“In short, the older six packs have been knocked down to make way for bigger, taller and shinier new apartments,” he said.
But Mr Hassid said despite Brisbane being in the midst of a transition to more high density living, he doubted that six-packs would disappear from the city’s skyline.
“Most six-packs do not sit on high rise sites and you will not get enough site value to justify demolition unless it is a high rise site,” he said.
A block of art deco units in New Farm recently sold for the first time in six decades for more than $2.4 million to a local developer.
The building, Osmaston, at 598 Lower Bowen Terrace, generated a rental return of about $80,000 a year and offered strata title potential.
Young Brisbane couple Emily Lambert and Luke McCabe would be happy to get one sixth of a ‘six pack’.
They are in the market for an “older style” apartment with character because Ms Lambert believes they hold their value better than new apartments.
Ms Lambert, who is a real estate agent, said investors would be smart to buy a ‘six-pack’ unit block because they would have no issues finding tenants or onselling.
Brisbane graphic designer Rebekah Kington bought a one-bedroom, art deco apartment in a ‘six-pack’ just off James Street in New Farm 12 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
Miss Kington said she considered investing in a new apartment at the time, but was glad she didn’t.
“It had such a nice feel,” she said.
“As soon as I walked in, I felt at home. I loved the high ceilings.
“The newer apartments are quite small. They’re just really tiny and pokey.”
Miss Kington has since upgraded the bathroom and plans to renovate the kitchen.
Buyer’s agent Selena Corness of Universal Buyers Agents said now was a good time to enter Brisbane’s unit market.
“In the past 18 months, there have been a lot of new residential multistorey unit complexes completed within a 2 kilometre radius of Brisbane CBD … and this has flooded the market and pushed prices down,” Ms Corness said.
She said buyers could use that to their advantage and find an entry point into the market via an affordable unit.
“By buying smart and taking advantage of the market, buyers are really in the driver’s seat,” she said.
SIX-PACK UNIT SELLING POINTS
*No or reduced body corporate fees
*Hold their value