‘Nude factor’ driving shock Aussie home changes
Dramatic changes in the way we live and what we want from our homes have emerged from COVID-19 restrictions.
Home prices are unlikely to crash as a result of the pandemic, due to the myriad of federal and state government housing stimulus schemes.
However the significant increase in the time we have spent at home and in our neighbourhoods has led to shock shifts in our preferred lifestyles.
OWNERS WANT MORE FLEXIBLE HOMES
The rise of working from home - one of the most significant social changes of the pandemic - has altered how we look at our home spaces
We now want more flexible and versatile spaces, ie. not just a study nook or a spot at the kitchen table but a dedicated working space.
Mary Nguyen is searching for a new, home for her daughter Daisy and her husband.
The couple both transitioned to working from home and need more space than their two-bedroom flat in Sydney's eastern suburbs can accommodate.
They are selling up and buying elsewhere but not because of a growing family or for economic reasons.
"The game-changer has been COVID-19," said Ms Nguyen, who owns interior design company Wallpaper Trader.
"We need a third bedroom not because of an expanding family but for another study after the nursery because we are both working from home.
"Being at home more has been a blessing in disguise. We've had more time together as a family but we need more room and we're also craving the ability to go out into the garden."
These changes have also influenced what type of new home Ms Ngyuen is looking to buy.
"We are looking at the configuration of space and rooms with much greater emphasis," she said.
Ms Nguyen's selling agent Sam Hosking said many buyers and sellers were re-imaging their lifestyles
"People are looking differently at what they want in a home," he said.
"Many potential buyers want functionality and versatility in their homes as much as they ever have."
This trend is also being witnessed in demand for house and land packages.
Sebastian Catalfamo, Executive General Manager at Porter Davis, has seen demand for townhouses spike.
"Overall, the major factor of COVID-19 has been the emphasis on the home as a much more relevant space," he said.
"The open space is more important. If we need to stay indoors, we don't want to feel locked in or locked down.
"People don't want pokey spaces they can't open up."
Affordability is an ongoing issue.
"With the increasing cost of land, you can have a three-bedroom townhouse that is more affordable," Mr Catalfamo said.
"Some of these estates have been around for a while, they are mature in their services and attributes. They have town centres, communities and parks which is also what many buyers are looking for."
DESIRE FOR THE VILLAGE LIFESTYLE
These new demands meet the re-emergence of village lifestyle that has become predominant during COVID-19 and will extend beyond the pandemic.
"One big issue COVID-19 has brought about is the rise of the village," said Adam Haddow, urban designer at SJB Architects.
"Modernism said we couldn't have working, living, sleeping and recreation together but the coronavirus pandemic is encouraging that. We're living more locally."
There has been a renewed emphasis on our privacy too.
'It's 'the nude factor'", Mr Haddow said.
"People want to able to walk around in the nude if they feel like it, without worry what the neighbours think.
"It's not all about the floor to ceiling windows anymore."
'PROPERTY PRICES WON'T CRASH'
Property prices have remained relatively stable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and should continue to do so as a result of state and federal government schemes and incentives.
A worst-case scenario would be a fall of around 10 per cent in prices, which would return the values to a year ago - a far cry from the 30 per cent crash some predicted.
According to CoreLogic, housing prices nationally have slipped just 0.7 per cent since the pandemic began to bite in mid-March.
"Record low interest rates, set to be in place for two-three years, means most owner-occupiers won't experience mortgage stress that could lead to a widespread sell off and a slump in prices," First National CEO Ray Ellis said.
The increased interest in regional locations, from seachangers and treechangers is also a positive for the market.
"Over the last few months, some of our regional offices have enjoyed their strongest months ever," Mr Ellis said.
"Not a bad result considering everything else that is going on."
Originally published as 'Nude factor' driving shock Aussie home changes