With an insured value of almost $1 trillion, covering 2.6 million lots and directly employing 9000 people nationwide, the strata sector is an important part of the Australian economy.

That’s according to the first comprehensive national report of its kind into the strata sector, co-authored by University of NSW associate professor Hazel Easthope.

“These figures really show just how big the sector is,” she said. “The vast majority of private apartments in Australia, as well as many other attached properties, such as townhouses and commercial properties, are owned under strata title, and this is the first time we have had figures about the scale and value of the sector.”

Associate Professor Easthope said one of the fascinating aspects of the strata sector was that it was mostly volunteer run.

The people who sit on the owners corporation and the strata committee – the people who’re elected to represent all of the owners in these buildings – do so on a volunteer basis,” she said.

“Those people are making decisions about, as it turns out, almost $1 trillion worth of assets in the Australian economy.”

It’s not just the value of strata-titled properties that contributes to the economy. Associate Professor Easthope said call-out jobs and professional services had an impact too.

In 2017 alone, it was estimated the sector was serviced by more than 3 million call-out trade jobs worth a total of more than $5.7 million, and about 440,000 services, worth $9 million, from professionals such as lawyers and engineers.

The total insured value of Australia’s strata schemes is an estimated $995 billion.

Despite the size of the sector, Associate Professor Easthope said the researchers found there was a low number of strata managers.

“I had expected that, given the very large number of lots and schemes, that we might see more people employed as strata managers,” she said.

What that suggests to me is either there’s a lot of schemes that don’t hire a manager, or there are a lot of managers who have incredibly high workloads. So I think it would be good to see those numbers increase and see more professionals assisting in this sector.”

Associate Professor Easthope said the research, undertaken by UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre and funded by the Strata Community Association, combined data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ census and various state and territory land title agencies.

Strata Community Association chief executive Erik Adriaanse said the national data would have a huge impact on strata regulation and governance in the future.

“The report will be a huge opportunity to assess what the sector does, how big it is, how the economy benefits from the goods and services it supplies, and the extent these services contribute to national income,” Mr Adriaanse said in a statement.

“It will have a profound effect on the way regulators and government will establish and build their policy framework to ensure that owners, strata professionals and suppliers will derive maximum economic benefit, and that the highest professional standards are achieved in the sector.”

For Associate Professor Easthope, the report will help support future research into the sector.

“We have done, and are hoping to do, a large number of projects in this space,” she said.

“It will be fantastic, and it’s exciting to me, to finally have national figures.”