The changing face of the Australian dream home

Buyers want a pool, a study and a courtyard above all else when searching for a home, but an increasing number are also turning toward more affordable housing options such as a duplex, amid surging house prices, search data from Domain shows.

Across all capitals, homebuyers are looking for bigger spaces and lifestyle fixtures, a trend that is likely to stay and shape the face of the Australian dream home, experts say.

“The way we use our home has altered since the pandemic and perhaps forever made a mark on our purchasing decisions and property wish list,” Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell said.

“We have seen the need for greater space and lifestyle additions a focus in 2021 compared to 2020, with search terms such as ‘pool’, ‘study’, ‘garage’ and ‘outdoor space’ rising in popularity among buyers.”

A dedicated workspace has become a priority among buyers, with “study” coming in second after “pool” as the most searched terms on Domain this year compared to a year ago.

This mirrored a survey conducted by NAB which found that almost one in five Australians rated having a study or work area as important when buying a home.

Sydney-based buyer’s agent Michelle May said COVID-19 had highlighted what functionality the home buyers really needed.

“It has taught us that home is our safe haven and is associated with family and comfort now more than ever,” she said.

“This means that buyers are wanting more from their property. Features such as a home office and a space for the kids to learn at home have become essential. The option to have an older generation stay long term is now a real consideration for buyers too.

“For many families these ‘nice to haves’ are now firmly on the ‘must haves’ and are non-negotiable aspects of their purchase.”

Affordability is also becoming a key factor for many home buyers, with keywords such as “duplex”, “dual” and “unit” posting the biggest lift in use, according to Domain.

“This suggests the rapidly rising house prices are constraining buyer budgets,” Dr Powell said.

“It illustrates the missing middle of affordable housing has become front of mind. Those priced out of purchasing a house are now looking for an alternative, such as a split block.”

Demand for regional homes continued to rise with searches such as “rural”, “beach”, “acreage” and “farm” becoming more common this year compared to pre-pandemic levels, the Domain data shows.

Demographer Mark McCrindle said the pandemic had changed buyers’ view on the practicality, affordability and liveability of a home.

“People have recognised that they need bigger living spaces or extra rooms because most Australians believe working from home is here to stay and young people need a space to study,” he said.

“As a part of that practicality, people have recognised the benefit of outdoor spaces and access to greenery of gardens, so that’s really given the detached home quite a boost as they offer these features.”

But affordability is becoming a big factor in where people can buy their home, Mr McCrindle said.

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