Having managed an array of projects from inception to completion throughout Victoria, Leonard Teplin is deeply familiar with the Victorian off-the-plan and inner urban residential property markets. Mr Teplin has been Director of Marshall White Projects for over 10 years now, and is one of Melbourne's most in-demand agents with top builders and developers.
Mr Teplin grew up in South Africa and spent several years in Portugal before eventually calling Melbourne home. He is passionate about diverse architecture and communities.
Mr Teplin recently sat down with Apartments & Developments to share his expert insights on the current off-the-plan property market. Despite the spotlight on interest rates, Mr Teplin remains optimistic about the current and future value of off-the-plan properties for Victorian buyers and renters.
“The advantage of the off-the-plan market at the moment is there’s very little, to no, brand new or near-new completed apartments available for sale. There’s been a very high absorption rate and limited supply because of the increasing cost of construction. Right now, buyers get the best value for money because there’s a significant pricing differential between the cost of a house versus an apartment or townhouse,” Mr Teplin told us.
“Apartments are also renting for a lot more than they used to. There are less than 2% vacancy rates, so there are only ever a handful of options to rent a brand new apartment. Not only are there less opportunities to own, but there is not a lot to rent.
“Victoria historically welcomes 90,000 migrants into the state each year, but we’re only delivering less than 5,000 new townhouses and apartments. There is not enough being delivered to keep up with the ongoing demand.
"The reality is that we’re not building enough homes, and we’ve got more people coming into the state than we can affordably house. If you’re a tenant today, renting a new townhouse or apartment has quickly become extremely competitive.
“Our genuine belief is that over time property prices will continue to rise. They may stall whilst there’s a range of sentiments in the marketplace from institutions such as the RBA. But, we’ve got less than 50% of students back in the country with immigration only just starting to resume, and we’ve had a limited property supply for some time," said Mr Teplin.
Interest rates have been a hot topic in Australia after recent increases motioned by the RBA. Mr Teplin is not worried about the correction towards interest rates impacting the off-the-plan property market.
“It doesn’t necessarily affect the property market outside sentiment. Interest rates today are still relatively low. The cost of money historically is still cheap. It’s still well below the 5% interest rates experienced property buyers are used to.
“I remember two years ago when Covid began, and everyone was suggesting that property prices were going to crash. But property prices soon went the other way. So, the market moves with sentiments.
“Interest rates are also often secondary to a buyer's particular needs. If you need more space or if you need to scale down, then interest rates are to a large degree irrelevant. And if you're looking for a home in a specific location, there are unfortunately very few options relative to the supply available eighteen months ago," said Mr Teplin.
Mr Teplin also provided insights on the best suburbs to buy off-the-plan property in Victoria.
“Every suburb that has a well established retail environment where you can conveniently pick up your toothpaste and toilet paper, whilst also enjoying readily accessible public transport becomes not only a great place to live, but an astute investment as well. This can be anywhere.
“Buyers are lucky with some of the infrastructure plans available from Edithvale to Bentleigh, and from Williamstown through to Boronia. Whilst we continue channelling funds into improving state infrastructure, those environments where everything is at your doorstep will continue to perform very well.
“The big push from the market today is the cost of living pressures and sustainability. People are socially more conscious. They want to be socially responsible. There’s also a big emphasis on communities and how people within a building interact with their neighbours from their arrival, to a lift journey, and then through to their apartment.
“Understandably today, everything is about being future-proof. Do you have EV chargers? Do you have solar panels? What are you doing to reduce the building’s carbon footprint? What sort of bricks are you using? Are they recycled? There’s a host of initiatives being implemented now that go well above and beyond what was mandated by the State Government with the Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS).
“It’s really all about showcasing how you can improve somebody’s quality of life whilst still reducing their everyday cost of living.”
Mr Teplin ultimately asserts that whilst buyer sentiments may quickly change, the opportunity to buy brand new, off-the-plan homes or investments in Victoria is still aspirational. With supply low and demand high, time will tell what a new property market will look like. Mr Teplin's expert observations indicate that the off-the-plan property space will continue to thrive in Victoria.
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Header image of Society Armadale courtesy of Marshall White Projects. Click here to learn more about Society Armadale.