toddler garden
Buyers are more interested in larger houses and gardens. Image – Canva.
  • Need for a work or study area more important to 75% of respondents
  • Being near good local shops and amenities important to almost two-thirds
  • Size of property important to 65% of respondents

It is no surprise the pandemic has had a major impact on the way consumers think. This is most notable in retail where patterns and behaviours have changed.

However, changes in consumer behaviour have not just been witnessed in retail but in what for the average Australian will be, by far, the biggest single purchase they will make: property.

National Australia Bank has released its latest ‘Residential Property Insights Report’ which has revealed changes in house hunting patterns since the pandemic began.

The need for a work or study area, being near local amenities and the size of the property itself are the three factors that recorded the greatest increase in the level of importance to a buyer.

Since the pandemic hit, fewer buyers are interested in apartments, as living near the CBD is comparatively less appealing along with the relatively small size of apartment properties.

Andy Kerr, NAB Executive for Home Ownership, said that buyers preferences have been influenced by more flexible working arrangements with commute times less important.

“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.”

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

Andy Kerr, NAB Executive Home Ownership

Specifically, almost nine in ten of the 330 property professionals surveyed said that a study or work area is much more important to homebuyers than it was pre-pandemic.

Being near local good shopping, restaurants and amenities was more important to 75% of respondents as was the size of the property with 65%.

Access to good public transport was the only important factor to 51% of respondents – this is no surprise given Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data recently released that showed only 1 in 7 Australians now use public transport regularly.

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

“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.”

study office
A house with a study or office area is the factor that has increased the most according to the survey. Image – Canva.

Trading for rural life and video calls

The need to live in a metro area is the factor that declined the most, with 57% of respondents remarking this is less important compared to pre-pandemic times. Of the states and territories, Victorians are the most willing to move out of Melbourne.

As reported last week in The Property Tribune, houses in metropolitan Melbourne, for the first time, have hit a median above $1 million.

85% of respondents said the consideration of a move out to a regional area is now more likely, thanks to the pandemic. Buyers in NSW – home to the most expensive capital city in the nation – are the most willing to consider a 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.” 

“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.”

The survey also reveals the way buyers are purchasing a home has also changed. Nowadays one-third of home lending appointments are conducted via video. Since NAB launched an online home loan appointment booking tool in September 2020, 15,000 video appointments have been booked. Mr Kerr said he expects the demand for this service to increase.

“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.”

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