There’s certainly been a plethora of new units being built in our biggest capital cities.
Some of these developments could be investment grade, but many are aimed directly at the investment market (but that doesn’t make them investment grade) and interestingly many also have no car park attached.
So, how important is a car park in a unit?
Does an inner-city location, with its many commuting and transport nodes, make up for the fact that the property doesn’t have room for a car?
The thing is an investment property without a car park, or one not close to transport links, could stall your overall return.
Some questions in life are asked more in hope than in expectation of good news.
“Can I ever buy an investment apartment without car parking?” falls into such a category.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of developers and estate agents flogging car-spaceless apartments who are happy to say that, “Yes, of course you can”.
Some of them even talk about the “paradigm shift” away from car ownership and all those tenants who are happy to limit car use to the occasional hire vehicle for weekends away.
Maybe in New York or London, but our capital cities are not as congested as those two uber-cities just yet.
Now while there are indeed occupants who happily eschew car ownership, they have always been in a minority.
You always need to remember that your property needs to appeal to owner-occupiers (even if you never intend selling it) and a lack of a car space is likely to be a major impediment to its desirability in the future.
We love our cars
Let’s also consider that Australia is a nation of car owners.
As of 2011, Australians remain wedded to their cars, with about 81 per cent of households owning one or more cars.
And of the 8,500-odd suburbs in Australia, there are less than 100 suburbs where households without a car represent more than 50 per cent of all the households in that suburb.
In fact, there are only 205 suburbs in the whole country where less than 70 per cent of households in a suburb own a car.
Even if one restricts the analysis to just Australian households who live in apartments and flats, 75 per cent of these households own at least one motor vehicle.
Now there are exceptions to this pattern, but in essence, these are some of the few places where residents are happy to forgo a car in any great number.
Car ownership is high even in suburbs very close to our capital city CBDs.
For example, only 51 per cent of apartment residents in Darlinghurst and 46 per cent of North Melbourne apartment residents do not own a car.
The main point is demand for property is much stronger in the suburbs where residents have the luxury of choosing between the car, train, bus and possibly tram or ferry.
Indeed, there are a number of factors that will further enhance the attractiveness of those suburbs blessed with intense transport infrastructure.
The populations of our capital cities are rising quickly and city limits are being extended, which means longer commutes and greater traffic congestion.
Property investment is always a long-term commitment and success is heavily linked to understanding, and tying, asset selection into the strongest and most consistent economic and demographic drivers.
Let me be clear: Don’t handicap your investment property’s prospects by restricting the pool of potential tenants and future owners – a car park space is a must.