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Shrinking Blocks

Australian house block areas are shrinking to a quarter of the size they were in the 1950s. From an average of 810-910 square metres sixty years ago, they were down to 200-350 square metres in 2012.

Block sizes recently fell below 200 square metres with the advent of rear-loaded blocks, in which the garage is built at the back of the property and car access is via a laneway. This downsizing trend began in the US after the global financial crisis and has caught on as a way for developers to offer more affordable house-and-land options.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia’s annual State of the Land Report (which provides an assessment of land supply in Australia’s capital cities) states that the median size of lots has gradually declined as a result of the scant supply and high cost of land. Developers are maximizing the number of dwellings on an allotment in a bid to curb costs and meet government driven planning controls.

In the 1980s and 1990s the average block size was 600 square metres, but now only two percent of blocks in new estates are this size. Blocks as small as 187 square metres are being offered by new home builders and are being taken up by a growing sector of the market that want easy, low maintenance accommodation to cater for their busy lifestyle but still like the idea of parks and open spaces nearby.