More flexible working from home arrangements amid the COVID-19 pandemic are sparking huge changes in the preferences of Aussie house hunters, new NAB data reveals.
A lengthy lockdown of Melbourne’s metropolitan areas last year prompted a surge of people wanting to buy regional properties.
NAB executive, home ownership Andy Kerr said the 2020 pandemic had driven massive change in preferences.
“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,” Mr Kerr said.
“As a result, it’s been no surprise to see price growth in regional areas outpacing capital cities.”
The research, which surveyed 330 property professionals – including investors, real estate agents and developers – revealed about nine in 10 saw a study or work area as more important to homebuyers now than it was pre-pandemic.
About 75 per cent of respondents placed great value on good local shopping, restaurants and amenities, while 65 per cent were particular about the size of a property and 63 per cent preferred to buy a house instead of an apartment.
Just more than 50 per cent of people wanted easy access to public transport.
“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.”
REGIONAL VS METRO
A need to buy a property in a metropolitan area has dramatically decreased, with 57 per cent saying this was now less important.
In a similar vein, consideration of a move to regional areas swelled, with 85 per cent listing this as a more important factor when choosing a new home.
Buyers in NSW, home to Australia’s most expensive capital, were seen to be keenest in considering a regional move.
“The idea of a sea change or tree change is exciting to many Australians, and a large number of customers have made the move in recent months as hybrid working models become more common,” Mr Kerr said.
“Our data shows more than one in 10 Australians expect to buy a home this year*, and more and more will be looking further out than we have seen historically.”
Australians are also changing how they are purchasing a home, according to the data.
One-third of home lending appointments are now conducted via video, with more than 15,000 appointments booked online since NAB’s home loan appointment booking tool launched in September.
“We know purchasing a home can be a daunting experience, and the rise of video has enabled face-to-face support with a quicker turnaround and greater convenience,” Mr Kerr said.
“We’re seeing some banks overseas report 80 per cent of their appointments via video, so it’s a trend we expect to endure.”
A push to move regional was more prevalent in NSW than any other state, according to Mr Kerr.
“Given Sydney prices remain the highest in the country, it’s probably little surprise moving further out to secure more space has proven popular,” he said.
“Proximity to the Blue Mountains and Central Coast beaches, in particular, has proven fashionable over the past year.
“And while the home office is a strong trend across all states, the greatest increase in demand is in NSW.”
Victoria’s lengthy lockdown in 2020 dramatically impacted homebuying preferences in the state.
“At the same time, the size of the property, buying a house over an apartment and having a dedicated work area have all increased significantly in importance over the past 12 months,” Mr Kerr said.
In Queensland the “standout result” from the NAB data was also a “growing interest in regional locations”.
“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,” Mr Kerr said.
Out in the west, buyers were “extremely keen” for a dedicated study or work area and not as interested as people in other states in moving to a regional area.
“We put this down to the comparative affordability of Perth as against the eastern capitals,” Mr Kerr said.
“The data in South Australia stands out for several reasons.
“Firstly, it is the state where the importance of good local shopping, restaurants and amenities has risen the most. Access to good public transport has also become much more important.
“In contrast, 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.”