Suburban densification: unpacking the misalignment between resident demand and investor-driven supply of multi-unit housing in Sydney, Australia

Publication Name

Australian Planner


In market societies, investors have played a key role in driving suburban densification. However, the concentration of one- and two-bedroom apartments in suburban town centres has raised concerns about the potential mismatch between investor-driven supply and consumer demand. Despite these criticisms, analysis of consumer demand for multi-unit housing rarely considers housing supply in the same locality. Recognising the significance of multi-unit dwellings in housing supply, this paper develops a clearer understanding of consumer demand and market supply of multi-unit dwellings in suburban town centres. In order to integrate consumer preferences and housing data, the paper combines qualitative analysis of the housing preferences of a group of (largely) migrant women with children living in apartments in the suburban town centre of Liverpool, Sydney, Australia, with quantitative analysis of household type, apartment size and dwelling approvals. In so doing, we show that market-led supply creates a mismatch between housing need and type, as housing careers move beyond detached homes towards spacious apartments in suburban town centres. We conclude that calibrating the share of larger apartments in Local Government Development Control Plans with consumer demand will improve housing outcomes in densifying suburbs.

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