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This is what Aussies want from a house post-COVID

To go with a feature story Australia-property by Madeleine Coorey Eastern suburbs real estate agent Daryl Rosen puts a 'sold' sticker over the advertising signage after another successful multi-million dollar house auction in Sydney on May 8, 2010. In Australia's largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the growth in property prices has been enough to ensure many prospective home owners are priced out of the market before they make their first tentative bid.  AFP PHOTO / Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)
Here's how COVID-19 has changed what Aussies are looking for when buying a home. (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

A home office, close proximity to shops and restaurants, and houses in regional areas have risen to the top of the priority list for Australians on the hunt for a new home, new data has revealed.

NAB research released today reflects shifting trends in factors that have become more important to Aussie property buyers, who are working from home regularly and less tied to CBD offices.

Most Aussies now demand their new home comes equipped with a study or work area, with this rated by 86 per cent of Aussies as moderately or much more important compared to pre-pandemic times, while three in four prize their home being near good local amenities, the research showed.

Homes in regional areas were also now more sought after, with 54 per cent of Aussies rating this as “moderately more important” in their property hunt, and a further 31 per cent rating this as “much more important”.

(Source: NAB)
(Source: NAB)

The ‘mass exodus’ of city-dwellers to regional areas was observed not long after the pandemic hit, as typically-bustling CBDs were nearly empty and people were forced to work from home for months on end.

The uptake of remote work, dubbed as the ‘biggest work from home experiment’, is here to stay; a massive global PwC survey of more than 32,500 workers conducted recently showed that 90 per cent of Australians want to keep working from home in some capacity.

And new research from Qualtrics found that remote work had become a ‘make or break’ decision for Aussie workers, with 51 per cent saying they would stay longer with their employer if work-from-home arrangements introduced during COVID became permanent.

The regional drift has been declared by one property expert as a “stampede” and the biggest property trend of the 21st century, and this has been reflected in house prices in regional areas which have outperformed capital cities

Aussies are also preferencing homes over apartments, with 63 per cent saying homes are moderately or much more important to them than apartments.

Recent CoreLogic data showed that there were 2.9 house sales for every unit that was sold in the year to January 2021.

Commentators have also observed a ‘two-speed’ property market that have seen house prices shoot up while apartment prices have sunk, particularly in inner-city suburbs amid declining interest in living near the CBD.

“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,” said NAB home ownership executive Andy Kerr.

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

And with people now spending more time at home, demand for more space has risen, he added.

“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.”

Concerns over Australia’s boiling property market amid ‘boom’

Australia’s property prices have risen over several consecutive months, thanks to record-low interest rate, ease of accessing loans, government incentives such as HomeBuilder and a surge of first home buyers flooding the market.

However, there are “some issues ahead which cast doubt on the sustainability of these price gains,” independent economist Stephen Koukoulas said.

“Most of the issues supporting house price growth are unlikely to still be in place at the end of 2021 and into 2022.”

In order to get a foot on the property ladder, first home buyers have been forced to develop creative measures, such as buying interstate or buying run-down homes with a view to renovate.

However, managing director Terry Ryder believes there are 15 factors that are contributing to the synchronised property upswing, with prices to rise over 2021 and into the following year.

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