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Back to basics as developers sell clean air and sunshine as perks

Nila SweeneyReporter

When Pascal Van De Walle was looking for an apartment to buy, he had no shortage of amenity-packed luxury developments from which to choose. But he was looking for more than just deluxe extras – he was also after fresh air, clean water and perennial sunshine.

“There were other developments in the area that I felt were of good quality, but I was looking for a place that will enhance my health and well-being as a whole,” Mr Van De Walle said.

“I wanted a place where I could breathe fresh air, have access to natural lighting, it’s quiet and close to transport and other amenities.”

Pascal van de Walle in a Mirvac display unit in Zetland. Janie Barrett

A year ago, buyers such as Mr Van De Walle might have scoffed at luxury living defined by fresh air, clean water and sunlight. But a summer of choking bushfires and a year of pandemic restrictions have shifted homebuyers priorities.

While perks such as panoramic views, home theatres, rooftop barbecue areas, gyms and pools have been the main hooks used by developers to sell apartments for decades, these are no longer enough to get buyers across the line.


“We’re seeing an enormous shift towards higher-quality living environments where people are demanding basic, but can be elusive, amenities such as fresh air and sunlight,” said Stuart Penklis, Mirvac’s head of residential.

“If there’s one thing that COVID has done, it’s accelerated this trend. It’s almost turbocharged people’s gravitation to healthier and happier living environments.”

Hottest amenities to lure buyers

Capio Group chief executive Mark Bainey said with the softening demand for high rise apartments due to structural issues and flight towards standalone homes, adding health and wellness features to projects would help attract buyers back into the sector.

Mirvac’s Portman on the Park touts fresh air, clean water and year-round sunshine as its latest luxury perks. 

“Projects that offer these features will have an advantage over those that don’t, because these are not readily available in most developments,” he said.

“Apartments that offer better access to sunlight, clean water, fresher air through better cross ventilation, are going to appeal to a greater customer base, and lead to faster uptake for the product.”

Mr Van De Walle said these features, among other things, have led him to settle on Mirvac’s Portman on the Park development in inner Sydney’s Green Square area.

“The apartment I bought has cross ventilation which ensures good airflow and it has dual aspects, so I get sunlight throughout the year. I think these amenities, as well as the location and quality of building, will help ensure my apartment will hold its value over time,” he said.

“The project also features floor-to-ceiling windows and each apartment is fitted with filters to ensure water quality.”

Hard sell

While the commercial sector has led the way in creating a healthier built environment for its occupants, largely driven by the financial imperative to attract and retain the best people, Mirvac said it was only a matter of time before a wave of office dwellers demanded equal features in their homes.

As such, the developer is seeking WELLv2 building certification – a global rating system that relies on 10 central concepts that support good health: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

But the comfort of luxury air, clean water and year-round sunshine doesn’t come cheap. An entry level apartment at the Portman on Park costs $700,000 and the most expensive would set buyers back $1.755 million.

Experts say while healthy features such as these could help sell more apartments, it remained a challenge to flog its benefits.

“It’s hard to quantify because in reality, features, locations and designs are packaged together,” said Davina Rooney, chief executive of Green Building Australia.

Crown Group chief executive Iwan Sunito said the difficulty also lies in the measurement.

“It’s something that we want to start pushing more, but we also understand the challenge of doing so,” he said. “How do you measure the state of well-being of people before and after they’ve stayed in our building? Is there actually a tangible way to measure the benefits?”

More importantly, would anybody care and is willing to pay for it? For Mr Van De Walle, it was worth the money.

“I’m willing to pay a premium because it’s my home, where I spend most of my time,” he said.

Summary | 11 Annotations
fresh air,
2021/03/26 21:05
clean water
2021/03/26 21:05
perennial sunshine
2021/03/26 21:06
enhance my health and well-being
2021/03/26 21:06
enormous shift towards higher-quality living environments
2021/03/26 21:07
COVID has done, it’s accelerated this trend
2021/03/26 21:07
health and wellness features
2021/03/26 21:08
location and quality of building
2021/03/26 21:08
hold its value over time
2021/03/26 21:09
office dwellers demanded equal features in their homes.
2021/03/26 21:09
I’m willing to pay a premium because it’s my home, where I spend most of my time
2021/03/26 21:11