04 June 2016 How first home buyers can join forces to afford real estate Housing affordability is an issue for many first home buyers who simply cannot afford to buy where they would like to live or where access to employment and transport is available. The growth in house prices in some areas of Australia has simply outpaced affordability. Despite this, a strategy where good design and pooling of resources can create the opportunity for two buyers to each move into their own new home that would have otherwise been unaffordable. Joining forces can really help first home buyers spring on to the property ladder with real gusto! What is joining forces? Joining forces is where two separate buyers combine their deposits and jointly purchase an established property with the view of redeveloping two new houses on the one block of land. These properties are commonly known as dual occupancy developments or duplexes, and take advantage of the changes to residential planning guidelines that exist across many parts of urban Australia. How can dual occupancy planning and design increase affordability? The initial purchase price of the land or existing property is shared between the two buyers. The costs of building two new dwellings are streamlined through cost efficient design and use of materials to build two homes that essentially mirror each other. These costs and savings are shared between the two buyers. The cost of ownership and maintenance is lowered with everything being new and covered by warranty protections. Who does this work best for? Joining forces is not for everyone and is not a straight forward process. It requires both parties to do their homework and work together as mistakes can be costly. Using an experienced property development project manager may be worth considering. You should each also obtain independent legal advice. Dual occupancy developments tend to work best for buyers who know each other, have similar needs in a home, and who won’t mind living next door to each other! Parents will sometimes provide their children with financial assistance towards their first home; however a dual occupancy development generated by joining forces could be an alternative that benefits both parties. Parents could consider retaining one of the properties as an investment with the potential to occupy in later life. How common are dual occupancy homes? Many builders now have established dual occupancy floor plans which meet planning guidelines, optimise available space, use natural light and energy effectively, as well as create flexible living spaces for our modern lifestyles. As most young families now seek to meet the challenges of balancing work and family life, dual occupancy living helps minimise time spent maintaining a property, allowing for more time to spend with family and friends. It is a great example of how quality design can assist in lowering the cost of home ownership and can increase the standard of accommodation.