Mr Costelloe is joint executive director of Villawood Properties. Villawood holds about 10 per cent of the Melbourne metro greenfields residential land market.
Q: How did you get in to the land development business and what are some of your more notable projects?
A: I was a young engineer in Bendigo and I was invited into a syndicate. Together, 16 of us bought a 30-lot project in 1989 and the rest is history. In fact, our whole company history has just been recorded in a book which you can see snippets of online very soon.
Over the past 25 years we have helped more than 5000 families realise their dream of building and owning a new home, which is a phenomenal outcome. People love living in a Villawood community and are proud to call them home. Every project we undertake enables us to build on the last and we are continually evolving in the key areas of innovation and creativity to ensure we stay at the forefront of the industry and offer our buyers the very best.
2. Q: What do you think a residential land estate should offer buyers and the wider community?
A: Besides all the regular stuff you expect in a residential land estate – access to public transport and roads, parks and playgrounds, shops, ovals and sporting facilities – a real community needs a heart and soul. When you buy into a new estate, often your neighbours are not from the local area or have moved from quite far away and therefore don’t know many people. A good community will allow you to make new friends and get to know your neighbours.
At Villawood Properties, we pride ourselves on designing innovative communities that bring people together. We openly encourage people to get to know each other and provide them with as many opportunities as we can to do this. Some of these include on-site activities, recreational facilities, communication portals such as Facebook pages and intranet sites. And some of our developments even have residents-only recreational clubs, which become the central hub of our communities.
3. Q: In your opinion is an average block of land – say 440sqm for about $220,000 – good value for money?
A: The average block of land in Melbourne is actually now closer to $195,000. This is extremely good value for money in my opinion! The average home is under $200,000 to build, and with house and land packages so reasonably priced, a family can realistically buy a home with ample living areas for under $400,000.
4. Q: We have seen the average block drop in size dramatically – from 550sqm down to 420-440sqm over the last 14 years. Why has this occurred, and are blocks likely to continue to drop in size?
A: We have definitely seen a decrease in the average size of blocks on the market and one of the main reasons we see this happening, is that people’s lifestyle aspirations are changing.
With the economy the way it is, blocks are becoming more expensive and with the rising cost in the delivery of infrastructure, buyers are looking for cheaper, more affordable blocks.
Everyone is also a lot busier these days and with the new design of alfresco living, the need for a big back yard for most people has decreased. And with better facilities, parks and open space at most new developments we are finding people are building larger homes on more compact blocks to minimise fuss and time spent on outside maintenance. We are also seeing more of a demand for single and dual households, as opposed to large families needing larger lots.
In fact, for the past two years the house and land package we have auctioned in conjunction with Henley for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, has been an incredible 40 to 50-square (372sqm to 465sqm) home on a 440sqm block.
5. Q: The Indian community love buying new house and land. What is Villawood doing to ensure you cater to their needs for style and space?
A: The aspirations of Indian families are no different to any other family. They all want a great community to live in, they want open space and room to grow and somewhere they can be proud to call home.
We have many Indian families living across our Villawood communities and one of the things they love the most is that they can be close to their family and friends. We see a lot of families buying together or next door to each other and also referring their friends to buy and build in the same new Villawood community. An excellent standard of community facilities is also rated very highly on the list of priorities from our Indian buyers, in addition to proximity to schools, shops, transport and general estate presentation and pricing. Our Villawood communities tick all of these boxes and with such a diverse range of lot sizes and products available, we cater to all buyers in the market, whether they are a first homebuyer, someone upgrading or down-sizing.
By Andrew Brasier
Published in The Indian Weekly (First Weekly Indian news Magazine in Melbourne, Australia)