How the COVID pandemic changed what Australians want in a home

author-avatar By 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.

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. If products listed have an LVR <80%, they will be clearly identified in the product name along with the specific LVR. The product and rate must be clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term.

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 which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

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.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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author-avatar
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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