Edwina Bartholomew meets the founders of Small Is The New Big on the set of Game Changers. Ian Ugarte and his wife Christine developed a property investment system which teaches others how to turn a healthy profit by investing in one of the most overlooked segments of the market – affordable housing.
With ever-increasing homelessness in Australia and the housing affordability crisis Ian Ugarte and his wife Christine have become passionate about bringing about personal and social change in the sector, and their company, Small is the New Big is the platform for that change. Their aim is to create elegant smaller homes which can be used more efficiently while allowing investors to get a start in the housing market, benefitting both the community and the individual.
Ian explains with the average home having 3-4 bedrooms with only 2.5 occupants, there are currently 12 million empty bedrooms in Australia. This, combined with a need for one-million extra self-contained homes in this country over the next ten years lead Ian and Christine to recognise the need to create more diversity in housing. “The biggest mismatch in our market place right now is that 60-80% of the people looking for accommodation are singles and couples, and 60% of our market place is made three and four-bedroom homes” Ian continues “Small Is The New Big is about taking those large houses and creating smaller components inside them, and the outcome from that is amazing”.
The system allows investors to make money while bringing back a community focus around smaller spaces that allow different ages/demographics to live closer to one another, and pay a reduce rental price. But with this dual purpose in mind, the company motto is ‘It needs to make sense before it makes dollars’, this refers to the need for each project to affect the community in a positive way, but it also needs to have a financial outcome. “If it doesn’t have both we don’t do the project” Ian tells Edwina.
Sounds like a win-win situation to us.