FAQ

General Questions

What is the Nightingale Model?

The Nightingale model is a set of systems and processes for housing provision. The model exists to enable licensed architects to develop Nightingale buildings using the learnings of architects who have previously developed Nightingale buildings.

It aims to deliver sustainable, affordable, liveable homes that connect its residents with the community and has been developed for use by architects and others to deliver triple bottom line apartments at cost.

The model is a replicable platform conceived in Melbourne by Breathe Architecture with the help of Architecture Architecture, Austin Maynard Architects, Clare Cousins Architects, MRTN Architects, Six Degrees Architects and Wolveridge Architects with the support of the Robin Boyd foundation.

Each Nightingale development is different. While each development using the Nightingale name uses the Nightingale model and adheres to the aims and objectives of the model, each development is independent of all others and of Nightingale Housing Ltd. Each architect developing a Nightingale project establishes its own project entity, secures its own investors and delivers its own project. Success of one Nightingale project does not guarantee the success of any other project and the design of each apartment will be different to that of apartments in other Nightingale projects.

Nightingale Housing does not build buildings, nor do we design them. Instead, we act to facilitate the process of bringing Nightingale buildings to life. We seek appropriate parcels of land, we licence values-aligned architects to deploy the Nightingale model and we keep those who’ve registered their interest informed about purchasing opportunities and processes.

How do I register my interest in purchasing an apartment in a Nightingale Project?

Go to the purchaser page on the Nightingale website and fill in the form to register your interest. This records you as a potential purchaser, noting the geographical area you are interested in. When a project becomes ‘live’ in the area you have nominated, you will be notified via email and invited to attend an information session to learn more about the project.

What are the steps in the purchasing process? How does it work?

The first step is to register your interest via the website. This means that you go on our general list to receive regular updates about Nightingale. It also means you are registered as interested in purchasing in a particular area.

We do not give your information out to anyone, including the architects leading a Nightingale project. Instead, when a project is announced in this area you will receive an invitation via email to attend an information session about the project.

After this you will receive an invitation via email to fill in a design survey to help the architects understand your preferences when developing planning permit applications and indicate your interest (this is non-binding).

You are then invited to attend a detailed design and balloting information session (usually before planning permit has been granted but sometimes after).

You then receive a purchaser brochure which includes nominal finishes, floor plans and balloting information. You fill in your ballot in order of preference and apartments are allocated via the balloting process. If your ballot is pulled out of the ballot box, you are notified immediately and asked to pay a non-refundable commitment fee within 5 business days to secure your apartment.

If you are not selected in the ballot, there is a backup ‘bench’ in case people drop out along the way. If selected, purchasers must accept the ballot and pay the non-refundable commitment fee in order to proceed.

Following this, purchasers will sign a Contract of Sale and pay a non-refundable deposit before construction can begin. Usually the purchaser group of a Nightingale project establishes their community and keep in contact with their fellow residents via social media and other social events during construction.

What information will I be given to help me decide whether to ballot or not?

Prior to balloting you will be provided with background documentation including a purchaser brochure, detailed floor plans and balloting information including indicative price ranges. This will provide you with the information you require to make an informed decision.

In The Commons there is a café, a wine shop and an architecture studio. In Nightingale 1 there is a social enterprise café, the Nightingale Housing office and an architecture studio. At this stage Nightingale 3 will have a fashion retailer in one of its tenancies.

Each development is different, and will attract or be suited to different types of tenancy. There is no guarantee of any particular type of ground floor retail in a given project.

 

Timeframes

How long does the process take?

Every project is different. The first information session for Nightingale 1 was in February 2015 and residents moved in in December 2017, which amounts to 2.5 years. Nightingale 2 is on track to be complete by June 2019, by which time the project will have taken just over 2 years.

When do I have to commit to buying?

When you complete your ballot form you are committing to buy an apartment. While it’s free to enter the ballot, it’s important that you only enter if you are serious about purchasing and that you only ballot for an apartment or apartments you are willing to purchase.

If you are selected in the ballot it is assumed that you will purchase the apartment and you must formalised by your intention to purchase by paying a commitment fee within 5 working days. This commitment fee will be deducted from your deposit, which is payable on signing the Contract of Sale.

 

Financial

How much are apartments?

Each project will be different. There are a number of things which affect the price of apartments such as size, location and orientation. The cheapest one-bedroom apartment at Nightingale 1 sold for $415,000 while the dearest two-bedroom apartment in Nightingale 1 sold for $655,000. At the completion of Nightingale 1 an average of $5,450 was refunded to each resident as a proportion of the un-spent construction contingency.

Each Nightingale project is independent from all others and the owner determines the price of the apartments, depending on design, finishes, financing, build costs and other factors.

How do prices compare between Nightingale Apartments?

Nightingale 1.0
Florence Street Brunswick (Balloted 2016)
53m2 – 56m2 one bedroom apartments from $415k – $455k
80m2 – 81m2 two bedroom apartments from $630k – $665k

Nightingale 2.0
Station Street Fairfield (Balloted 2017)
52m2 one bedroom apartments from $469k – $484k
67m2 – 80m2 two bedroom apartments from $609k – $714k

Nightingale 3.0
209 Sydney Road, Brunswick (Balloted 2018)
63m2 one bedroom apartments from $552k – $572k
75m2 – 103m2 two bedroom apartments from $734k – $892k
120m2 three bedroom apartments from $1,025k – $1,035k

Nightingale Brunswick East
Corner of Miller & Nicholson Street, Brunswick East (Balloted 2017)
67m2 – 78m2 two bedroom apartments from $525k – $700k
91m2 – 95m2 three bedroom apartments from $820k – $941k

How are the apartments affordable?

The actual definition of affordable housing is housing that should only cost you 30% of your household income. Truly affordable housing in Australia is only available through state owned public housing or subsidized housing through a Community Housing Provider like Housing Choices Australia.

One of the key tenets of Nightingale Housing however is financial sustainability. We want to help provide access to high quality sustainable housing to all.

We aim to help each project reduce the cost of the housing they develop through the following mechanisms:

  • Nightingale is a purpose driven model created to deliver sustainable housing at cost. Nightingale projects are not based on a profit model
  • Financial transparency
  • Impact investors and the cost of finance. Nightingale has been working to establish The Nightingale Housing Fund. This fund will provide equity and finance for Nightingale projects at lower rates further reducing the cost of apartments
  • "Build less give more." Nightingale is based on the idea of living simply. We aim to help architect led entities deliver quality, well built, sustainable homes that are stripped-back and honest. We take out things like second bathrooms, individual laundries and basement carparks to reduce the cost of construction and ongoing maintenance
  • The Nightingale model aims to take out the middleman. Nightingale projects do not employ real estate agents, marketing consultants and do not pay to build display suites. These costs were stripped out of Nightingale 1 and saved the project over $400,000. This reduced the average price of each apartment by over $20,000
  • Partnerships: Fisher & Paykel, Bluescope Steel & Brickworks have all sponsored Nightingale projects because they believe in our mission. The savings on these products are passed directly on to the residents
  • Reduced operational costs: Nightingale 1 established an embedded energy network system that buys bulk GreenPower from Momentum Energy and passes on that bulk purchase price per Kilowatt Hour directly to the residents. This network also shares the benefit of the solar hot water with each of the residents. The model for this type of arrangement is shared with licensed Nightingale projects

Nightingale Housing is particularly interested in how to help first home buyers secure a home in areas close to their families, schools and places of employment. We also believe in long term affordability, that is, the real cost of housing associated with where it is, how far you have commute, the energy efficiency of the building, the cost of utilities and the operating and maintenance costs of the building.

Nightingale 1 was delivered at about 19% below the price of equivalent housing in the same suburb. But affordability doesn’t just mean apartment prices. Long term savings are achieved through environmental measures such as avoiding air conditioning and using an embedded energy network which significantly lowers energy costs. In addition, access to car sharing and public transport negates the need for a dedicated car and car space.

The ongoing affordability of a Nightingale apartment is protected through the Nightingale covenant which is attached to the title and runs for 20 years or the contractual equivalent with the apartment purchasers. This ensures that this affordability is passed on to the next purchaser. One other avenue we are exploring is a 5% deposit, which may ease access into the market given the long lead times that enable purchasers to save the remaining 5% required at settlement.

Certain Nightingale licensed projects also are looking at well-designed small studio apartments (25m2 – 35m2) in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range which may provide an opportunity for low income earners without large deposits to secure their own home.

What if my circumstances change – can I rent out my apartment?

The restrictive covenant on Nightingale apartments only restricts how you sell your apartment, not whether you can rent it. If you do need to rent your apartment, we encourage you to consider long-term rental periods to enable renters to become a part of the Nightingale community. We would also encourage you to set your maximum rent at 5% of your purchase price per annum.

Do you have any more information on the breakdown of financial contributions required from purchasers?

Typically, the Nightingale project asks for a non-refundable fee of $10,000 when you are successful in the ballot. Following this, your formal deposit of 10%, minus the $10,000 fee, is due when you sign the Contract of Sale, with the remaining due on settlement. This is subject to change but will be confirmed before you are asked to ballot.

What are the Council Rates?

Rates are set by the Council. It is impossible for us to predict this. This will be confirmed in your Contract of Sale.

Can you get the deposit back if circumstances change?

Contracts of Sale are binding legal documents. However, if there were unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances which mean you are unable to purchase your apartment, we would work with you with the aim of re-allocating the apartment so that the deposit could be refunded. This is where the idea of the ‘bench’ comes in, which means we have a waitlist of those who missed out who may be called on to take your apartment. It is important to note that a Nightingale project can’t guarantee the return of your deposit if circumstances change for you. Any legal and administrative costs incurred as a result of reallocating the apartment will also be deducted from the deposit.

What are the Owners Corporation fees?

This is determined on a building by building basis and will be disclosed in the Contract of Sale. However, as a guide, in 2018 Owners Corporation fees at Nightingale 1 are approximately $62,000 per annum. This equates to an average annual fee of $2818 per apartment. This includes the provision of hot water and hydronic heating to each apartment - meaning no one at Nightingale 1 will get a hot water or heating bill, ever.

Who do you recommend for mortgages?

Importantly, we cannot recommend a bank to you. This is a decision for you to make based on what is in your best interests. However, Nightingale Housing has developed strong relationships with:

Bank Australia
[email protected]

UniBank
Carolyn Murphy - State Manager
[email protected]
0433 118 225

Nightingale Housing works hard to help banks understand the value and benefit of a Nightingale home to residents, the community, the environment and society at large. These banks do not lend to fossil fuel projects and are member-owned organisations.

We note that these organisations provide a contribution to Nightingale Housing for every referral from Nightingale Housing. In the case of Bank Australia, this contribution is 0.40% of the value of the home loan provided by the bank. In the case of UniBank, this contribution is 0.30% of the value of the home loan provided by the bank.

Any contribution Nightingale Housing receives from these banks will be invested or donated to community projects such as Home.One, a micro cafe that provides training and employment opportunities to young people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, located at the base of Nightingale 1.

Who maintains the common areas?

Property maintainance of Nightingale 1 is carried out by values-aligned contractors and is be managed by the Owners Corporation. For example, Miss V, the non-toxic cleaner maintains the common areas, the laundry and takes out the bins. Amy & Tess are qualified horticulturists and are employed as the green caretakers. Smaller details however, like cleaning the BBQ after use, looking after the worm farms, and managing the beehives are all currently handled by Nightingale 1 residents.

However, as each Nightingale project is its own entity and the Owners Corporation will have its own rules, there is no guarantee that similar contractors or arrangements will be in place for each Nightingale project.

 

The Balloting Process

What is the Balloting process?

Due to the high demand for Nightingale homes, Nightingale Housing runs a ballot for each Nightingale project. Two weeks after the final information session, all ballot forms are due back to Nightingale Housing and the ballot officially takes place. This is video recorded and made available to all parties. Each purchaser drawn from the ballot is called and informed of their position in the ballot, and of which apartment they have been allocated. If there is an excess number of people in the ballot, an ordered ‘bench’ is formed. If for any reason somebody withdraws from the ballot, their allocation is offered to the first person on the ‘bench’ and so on. A non-refundable $10,000 commitment fee is due from all confirmed residents within 5 working days of the ballot. This contributes to the purchaser deposit.

What if I am overseas when the ballot is drawn?

You can still enter the ballot as long as you have provided us with the means to contact you let you know the outcome. You will be required to be in Melbourne to sign the Contract of Sale in person unless you have appointed a Power of Attorney to sign on your behalf.

 

Availability

Will you go to other parts of Melbourne? South, East, West? Will you go interstate?

Nightingale Housing are geographically agnostic but there are criteria that we apply that is central to us achieving our mission. To receive a licence a project site must be:

  • An inner suburb infill site that is located within 5-10 minute walking distance to facilities, services and public transport.
  • A site with a minimum size of 500m2 with a market value that will cost $85,000 or less per apartment for the land component.
  • Located in an urban renewal area that can accommodate medium density housing.

A significant issue is the price of land and how this translates into apartment costs. The cost per m2 is relative depending on how much density you can get on a site and any development needs to hit our density sweet spot (around seven stories). The project site also needs to satisfy a few other criteria: can the apartments sell under market value? Would they appeal to first home buyers? Can housing providers afford the 20% allocation? All of these things must be taken into consideration by architects when purchasing sites.

To keep updated on potential Nightingale projects interstate or in other parts of Melbourne please register your interest via the Purchasers page on our website.

Will you go to regional areas?

Nightingale Housing is currently investigating opportunities and demand in Ballarat and Bendigo.

We want the Nightingale model to spread far and wide and we encourage everyone to do their bit to make housing more affordable, sustainable and community-focused. However, at this time there are some constraints on the size of developments and the geographical locations using the Nightingale model. This is because the model works best with medium density housing, typically 20 apartments or more located close to public transport and within walking distance to amenities such as local shops and services.

In many cases medium density sites in most regional and rural areas are not able to meet this criteria. However, we are looking at assisting with alternative models in these areas such as citizen led co-housing as an alternative in the short term.

To keep updated on potential Nightingale projects in regional areas please register your interest via the Purchasers page on our website.

 

Key Worker Priority/Disabled/ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

I’m a priority worker, how do I get preference?

Ballot forms include a section where you indicate if you are a key community contributor, an individual with a disability or you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Those who have indicated these groups will make up the Priority Ballot.

How do you prove your status?

Please refer to the Nightingale Housing Priority Ballot Policy, available soon. This will be used by each project.

How do you incorporate community housing into the developments?

Nightingale Housing encourages all developments to allocate 20% through a community housing provider. For example, in Nightingale Village we are working with each individual project and Housing Choices to manage the 20% allocation for affordable housing.

Priority to those with a disability - what does this mean in practice?

Ballot forms include a section where you indicate if you are an individual with a disability or registered full time carer and the Nightingale project will run a priority ballot before the mainstream group.

We are also working with third party providers, Housing Choices Australia, to help Nightingale projects provide adequate support for people with disabilities and their families to access a Nightingale apartment.

Will full time carers of people with disabilities be able to access apartments?

We would love to help facilitate this. The person with the disability will need to be successfully balloted through the priority ballot first.

 

Apartment Details

Will we have an opportunity to change any aspects of the final design of our apartment (i.e. storage location)

Each architect handles these requests differently. There were lots of changes requested in Nightingale 1 and these were captured and distilled into eight common changes that all residents decided on adopting in their own apartment. It meant that everyone got up to eight tweaks to their apartment but that there was not a situation where there were 20 vastly different apartments. It’s important that we keep it simple for the builder to ensure that we capture the economy of scale of a multi-storey building.

Can I make changes to my apartment after settlement?

Yes – within the rules of the Owners Corporation of the building that you live in.

Will there be any apartments made with courtyards instead of, or in addition to, a balcony?

Every Nightingale project design will be different, so we cannot rule it out.

Are there any opportunities to become more involved in the planning and design?

One of the benefits of the Nightingale Model is that it encourages and supports the active involvement of the community of residents in the development of their future homes. This means you will be invited along on the journey from a project’s inception. You will have the chance to input into the design via a design survey which asks a number of questions about thing such as:

  • Size of apartment
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Shared common spaces
  • Provision of air conditioning, car parking
  • Retail tenancies
  • Family configurations
  • Pets

Whilst these are very high level questions, they help to inform the design of the building and help with the planning permit process. You will be presented with the preliminary apartment designs before you are asked to ballot. Once balloted you can ask for changes to your apartment, in fact most architects to date have engaged with their residents to survey for common requests for changes which have then led to amended designs.

How will I know what is included in the design?

You will be provided with detailed information at the architect’s design information sessions and will have the chance to ask questions and interrogate the design. Before being asked to ballot the Nightingale project will provide you with a link to a secure website with full plans, apartment pricing, FAQs, draft contract including the Nightingale covenant and full details of how the ballot will run.

Is the bike parking allocated to apartments or just shared?

Each Nightingale project is different so we cannot determine this definitively, however bike parks at Nightingale 1 and The Commons are shared.

Can the apartment be reconfigured to include a bath?

You will need to discuss with your Nightingale architect as each project is different. In Nightingale 1 some bathrooms were reconfigured to include a bath. They were located in the same position as the proposed shower, necessitating an over-bath shower. It should also be noted that some of the baths were smaller than usual to accommodate this.

How small are the studios and how much do they cost?

We see well-designed studios as an important entry point for many first home buyers and we are assisting their introduction to the Nightingale Village projects in Brunswick. While prices for these have not been set, our early indications from the project entities for studios from 25m2 - 35m2 could be between $200,000 to $300,000. This is a guide only.

 

Legalities & Owners Corporation

Is there the possibility to add other people onto the title at a later stage?

The person that is balloted must be on the title. Nightingale will not allow further nominations of the contract. It is important to us that the ballot and allocations are transparent and adding other people to the title at a later stage could potentially muddy this process.

What are you expecting the Owners Corporation fees to be? Will these be paid as per the building we are in or a contribution to the entire village?

Each project is different and Nightingale Housing has no control over the Owners Corporation of the projects. For projects in the Nightingale Village it is anticipated that there will also be an annual contribution to the shared facilities in the Village.

What are the terms of resale?

  1. First right of refusal: you must offer your apartment back to the Nightingale Housing to offer to the Nightingale community purchaser list first. If, after a period of one month, your apartment hasn't sold, you are free to offer it through traditional channels.

  2. Resale price: the maximum resale price of your property cannot exceed the price you paid for it (excluding Stamp Duty) plus the percentage increase in median house prices of the suburb where the property is located for the year you bought it to the year you are selling it, as determined by the REIV
    https://www.reiv.com.au/property-data/median-prices

What is the restrictive covenant?

Nightingale aims to provide housing at cost, not apartments for investment. One of the key tenets of Nightingale Housing is affordability. The restrictive covenant ensures that this affordability is passed on to the next purchaser. There are two steps to the restrictive covenant.

  1. First right of refusal: you must offer your apartment back to the Nightingale community list first. If, after a period of one month, your apartment hasn't sold, you are free to offer it through traditional channels. Nightingale will charge a fee of $1000 to facilitate this sale.

  2. Resale price: the maximum resale price of your property cannot exceed the price you paid for it plus the percentage increase in median house prices of the suburb where the property is located for the year you bought it to the year you are selling it, as determined by the REIV
    https://www.reiv.com.au/property-data/median-prices

In the covenant, it states that the increase in property value will be referenced back to the year the property is purchased. Is this the year that the contract of sale is sign or the year of settlement?

The year the Contract of Sale is signed.

In the event of selling our apartment the covenant stipulates offering it first to someone on the Nightingale Housing waiting list? How does that apply before settlement?

Yes, this is correct. Importantly, resales are not permitted prior to settlement unless there are unfortunate circumstances that are beyond your control (i.e. significant illness or relationship breakdown) in which case we will do everything we can to find another purchaser.

Sorry, we are unable to recommend a Legal Practitioner or Conveyancer as this may cause a conflict of interest.

How much is stamp duty?

Nightingale Housing recommends that purchasers seek independent financial advice, as stamp duty varies depending on your personal situation.

What incentives currently exist for First Home Buyers?

Please refer to the State Revenue Office of Victoria website for detailed information on first home buyer incentives. See First home buyer duty exemption or concession to find out what incentives currently exist for first home buyers

 

Shared Equity

Do any of the Nightingale projects take part in shared equity schemes?

There are many shared equity schemes across Australia, and Nightingale Housing is happy to assist Nightingale projects in working with shared equity schemes. However, there are limitations to some schemes that may preclude the Nightingale Housing model. For example, the Victorian Government’s HomesVic scheme will only consider the construction of homes for which completion is planned to occur within three months of entering into a contract of sale, which precludes most Nightingale projects.

 

Sustainability

What is the Green Travel Plan? Does every Nightingale project participate?

The Green Travel Plan sometimes forms part of the Planning Permit requirements and outlines the various steps the project is required to take to ensure the occupants use sustainable modes of transport instead of private car ownership. This includes a $500 (per bedroom) payment towards your choice of sustainable transport such as GoGet share cars, myki cards, Uber accounts or bike servicing/repairs. The Green Travel Plan is contained in the Contract of Sale and is administered by the Owners Corporation.

For example if you own a two bedroom apartment in Nightingale 1, and if you chose MYKI as your preferred green travel method you would pay $1000 to the Owners Corporation and the Owners Corporation would provide you with two $500 Myki cards. The Owners Corporation will then report back to the City of Moreland annually on what the car ownership is within the building and what alternate modes of transport the residents use.

The sustainable transport levy is charged in addition to Owners Corporation Fees. It is paid yearly, and must be used for sustainable transport measures, as agreed by the Owners Corporation.

Because each Nightingale project is different to and independent from others, with its own planning process, there is no guarantee that a project will participate in the Green Travel Plan initiative.

With the NatHers rating - is 7.5 uncommon statistically in the inner north?

Yes. The Building Code for apartments requires a minimum rating of 5 stars for an apartment with an average of 6 stars across all apartments within a single building. This is the current requirement to obtain a building permit, so the majority of buildings meet minimum requirements only and do no not seek better outcomes.

Nightingale 1 has a NatHers average of 8.2 stars, Nightingale 2 has 8.6 stars. This does not necessarily mean that any Nightingale project in the future will have such a rating.

What are the sustainability measures?

The Nightingale Housing model mandates some simple sustainability measures such as:

  • Located in well-located urban areas in terms of accessibility to public transport, cyclist facilities and other local amenities.
  • Ensuring a high thermal insulation, which enables the buildings to have no air-conditioning.
  • Long-term environmental sustainability, requiring a minimum 7.5 star NatHERS rating.
  • 100% fossil fuel free and carbon neutral in operations (including solar PV array)
  • Passive ventilation and the incorporation of low embodied energy materials.
  • Low VOC finishes.
  • Rainwater harvesting.
  • Productive Gardens.
  • Solar arrays feeding back into the building.

Beyond environmental and financial measures, a fundamental component of Nightingale buildings is the social sustainability of each community created. By foremost recognising that each apartment project is creating a new community, rather than a disassociated body of neighbours, design decisions become more considered and specific for future residents.

Deliberative design asks future occupants questions about how they want to live; licensed Nightingale Housing architects then use this feedback to design homes that truly work for the person who is going to live there.