How the COVID pandemic changed what Australians want in a home

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on April 16, 2021
How the COVID pandemic changed what Australians want in a home

The COVID pandemic and lengthy lockdowns have had a major impact on house hunting behaviours.

A dedicated work or study area, a bigger property, and good local amenities are topping the wish-lists of buyers, while interest in high-density apartment living has fallen off a cliff, new NAB data shows. 

According to NAB Executive, Home Ownership Andy Kerr, more flexible working arrangements are behind the change in preferences, with commute times becoming less of a factor. 

"For many, the great Australian dream is a spacious home with a nice backyard for entertaining and it’s more affordable in outer suburbs and regional towns than the inner-city," he said. 

“As a result, it’s been no surprise to see price growth in regional areas outpacing capital cities.”

Related: Regional house affordability falls as boom moves nationwide


Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market for owner-occupiers.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate* Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval

VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
ZERO APPLICATION FEESFEE FREE OFFSET

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
  • No upfront or ongoing fees
ZERO APPLICATION FEESFEE FREE OFFSET

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
  • No upfront or ongoing fees
FixedMore details
USE A MARKET LEADING APP TO HELP YOU PAY OFF YOUR LOAN SOONER

Fixed Home Loan 1 year (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 80%)

  • Make up to $20,000 additional repayments per fixed term
  • Redraw available – lets you access any extra loan repayments you’ve made
  • Choose to rate lock for 90 days (fee applies)
USE A MARKET LEADING APP TO HELP YOU PAY OFF YOUR LOAN SOONER

Fixed Home Loan 1 year (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 80%)

  • Make up to $20,000 additional repayments per fixed term
  • Redraw available – lets you access any extra loan repayments you’ve made
  • Choose to rate lock for 90 days (fee applies)
VariableMore details
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • No application or ongoing fees.
  • 100% free offset sub account.
  • Fast online application, approval in minutes not weeks.
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card, Apple and Google Pay
  • Refinance loans and variable rates only.
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • No application or ongoing fees.
  • 100% free offset sub account.
  • Fast online application, approval in minutes not weeks.
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card, Apple and Google Pay
  • Refinance loans and variable rates only.

Rates correct as of January 21, 2022. View disclaimer.

NAB's research, which surveyed 330 property professionals (including investors, real estate agents and developers) found nine in 10 (86%) believe having a dedicated study or home office is more important to homebuyers now than it was before COVID.

About 75% of those surveyed said having access to good local shopping, restaurants and amenities has become more important, as has the need for a bigger house (65%), buying a house over an apartment (63%), and access to good local public transport (51%). 

See also: How COVID is changing Australian home ownership goals

“Lockdowns have reshaped how we live and with many at home for longer periods, the desire for a little more space has grown,” Mr Kerr said.

“This may mean a larger living room for the kids to play, a dedicated study to separate work from home life or a bigger backyard for the new puppy to run around.”

factors2

Source: NAB

Australians keen to get away from the inner cities

The factor that has shown the biggest decline in house hunting priorities is the need to be in a metro area, with over half (57%) of those surveyed saying this is now less important than it was pre-COVID.

Unsurprisingly, Victorians are the most keen to get away from the city after enduring the harshest lockdowns in the country that saw many Melburnians stuck inside shoebox apartments.

A massive 85% of respondents said moving to regional areas is becoming bigger priority for buyers, particularly for those in Sydney where house prices recently surged 3.7% in a single month.

“The regional push is more prevalent in NSW than any other state,” Mr Kerr said.

“Given Sydney prices remain the highest in the country, it’s probably little surprise moving further out to secure more space has proven popular.

"Proximity to the Blue Mountains and Central Coast beaches, in particular, has proven fashionable over the past year."

Interstate buyers are also flocking to parts of Queensland.

“Coastal areas are particularly popular, including the Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Cairns, while Ipswich has drawn strong demand for those wanting to stay closer to the state capital.”

In Western Australia, buyers are more concerned about finding a home office, and it's a similar story in South Australia.

"The regional push isn’t quite as strong in WA. We put this down to the comparative affordability of Perth as against the eastern capitals," Mr Kerr said.

"The regional push and move away from metro areas is least prominent in SA. This may be linked to affordability as Adelaide prices remain comfortably below the eastern state capitals.”

See also: The rise of regional property in COVID


Photo by Hossein Anv on Unsplash

Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered. Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site. Savings.com.au, yourmortgage.com.au, yourinvestmentpropertymag.com.au, and Performance Drive are part of the Savings Media group. In the interests of full disclosure, the Savings Media Group are associated with the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings Media Group manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please visit the web site links at the bottom of this page.

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William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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