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SOHO Living's Alex Gibson shines a light on Medium Density

February 2022 in Construction

One thing is for certain – there are never too many dull moments, or much downtime involved, in Alex Gibson’s job with SOHO Living.

Joining the company just over 2 years ago, Senior Development Manager Alex is responsible for overseeing the organisation, direction and delivery of the company’s many development projects, commanding a team of highly skilled development managers, as well as managing many of its key developer partnerships.

With well over a decade of industry experience, Alex is no stranger to the world of property development, having previously worked with some of Australia’s best-known developers.

Alex’s current role with SOHO Living encompasses all facets of development management including financial feasibility analysis, project negotiations, management of sales releases, marketing initiatives and management of medium density precinct rollouts. He’s also been actively involved in growing the number of partnerships SOHO has with organisations such as Dennis Family Corporation, as well as the acquisition of the company’s own development projects built out using the SOHO Living medium density housing range.

We took this opportunity to talk to Alex about what medium density housing actually is, and to explain the benefits of this type of development to home buyers and investors.

Tell us about SOHO Living? When was the business established, what does it do etc?

“Established in 2016, SOHO Living is a leading residential builder and property developer, specialising in the design and construction of modern, stylish, fully ‘turnkey’ fixed-priced products which allow purchasers to move into their homes as soon as construction is completed – without having to pay additional costs throughout the build process.

“The directors were Inspired by Soho New York, and their timing was impeccable. In just a few short years, the company has grown to include a team of over 100 staff, partnering with over 40 Victorian land developers, to contract over 2,000 site starts – and with a full pipeline forecast for many years to come!”

SOHO Living specialises in medium density and townhouse projects. What is medium density housing?

“Medium density housing is a category of residential development that falls between detached suburban housing and multi-story apartments. Typically, medium density housing can range from 25 – 40 dwellings per hectare.

“In simple terms, SOHO Living develops town home precincts, comprising land parcels each averaging less than 300sqm, with every project undergoing careful consideration to ensure (a) that we can deliver designs and facades which will last the test of time; and (b) which also allow for the maximisation of living areas to support growing families. “

What are the benefits and advantages of medium density and townhouse living?

“There are multiple benefits of purchasing a medium density town home like the ones we design, but the most significant of these is probably affordability.

“You only have to open a paper or listen to the news each night to know that the cost of housing affordability has become more and more of an issue in Melbourne, as prices continue to escalate. But medium density housing offers purchasers a more affordable pathway into the housing market than a traditional house and land package. For a start, each of our SOHO Living town homes are constructed independently, with all slabs are poured individually. That means no party walls or body corporate fees, and purchasers will receive an individual title for the land they purchase.

“Essentially, by maximising the built form across a smaller parcel of land, purchasers can obtain the same amount of living space as they would have achieved on a much larger block, but at a much lower cost. A reduced land footprint also equates to significant stamp duty savings for purchasers, which only further adds to the financial attractiveness of  medium density and town houses.”

Are you seeing an uplift in demand for medium density housing, and if so, amongst which types of purchasers and what is driving that demand?

“The demand for town homes in greenfield estates is definitely on the rise amongst first-time buyers as house and land prices in Melbourne’s growth corridors become increasingly out of reach for many. The most notable difference we’re seeing right now is in the age of first-time purchasers – the typical townhouse purchaser is generally slightly younger than someone buying a traditional home, and they also tend to need more assistance to break into the Melbourne property market.

“The other thing we’ve also seen at SOHO Living is a significant increase in demand from investors and downsizers who are quickly realising that townhouses are not just a cost-effective option, but also represent a good investment for astute small-scale investors, as they offer comparable weekly rental returns to detached homes. The rental yields that can be achieved relative to the original purchase price of town homes takes much of the guess work out of the decision for those looking to invest into this asset class.”

How does SOHO Living go about designing medium density housing? What/who is involved? What sort of considerations does SOHO Living takes into account?

“SOHO Living takes a very ‘ground up’ approach to the design phase, carefully analysing all areas of the home so as to maximise liveability. For example, solar orientation is carefully considering during the master planning process to ensure that town home backyards receive adequate sunlight throughout key points of the day. Likewise, kitchen and living areas benefit from an ‘open plan’ design approach and by including 2590mm ceilings to the ground floor and 2440mm ceilings to the first floor as standard, allowing for greater verticality within the home.

“At SOHO Living we also take great pride in our façade designs. High quality façade materials are used across the entire town home range to ensure that each streetscape will retain long lasting appeal for years to come. Inside each house, items like high quality stone benchtops, as well as the inclusion of European inspired appliances as standard, add to their appeal – hopefully making the decision to purchase even more simple and compelling.”

What types of medium density housing and townhouses are popular right now? What features are people looking for? Are purchasers looking for a full turnkey solution?

“SOHO Living has seen a significant increase in the number of purchasers who are looking for town homes that have a bedroom and bathroom located downstairs so as to support multi-generational living options.

“For example, one of our home designs, the Oakland has a 19sq floor plan which incorporates three bedrooms as standard. But for just $5,000 more it can easily be converted into a 4-bedroom town home by transforming the second living area downstairs into a fourth bedroom. This can significantly increase the rental yield achieved by an investor, or allow an additional family member to remain living at home.

We offer a full turnkey solution for all our town homes, and house and land packages, and our market research shows that more and more purchasers are looking for this solution. Why? Because it gives first-home buyers peace of mind when trying to structure their savings plans and budgets. It’s also a very appealing option for investors looking to rent out their property, as tenants can move into the home almost immediately after completion, reducing the timeframe in which investors can start to see a return on their investment.

SOHO Living also specialises in two-bedroom town homes. The rise of young, single professionals, particularly in the medical fields, has seen a strong pike in demand for two-bedroom town homes as an entry level product, as time-poor purchasers like nurses working night shifts, are attracted by properties that require less general upkeep and maintenance than is usually required for larger house and land packages.