OPINION


4 Ways Flexible Working is Changing How We Buy Property

23rd August, 2021

One of the most significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the change in how we live and work. The ability to work remotely has been proven, and flexible work arrangements look to be a long-term outcome from 2020. This, in turn, is affecting how Australians buy property.

Features that were once high up the priority ladder, such as nearness to workplaces or dedicated spaces like home theatre rooms have moved down, making way for flexible and functional living.

Although we’re still in the early days of flexible working, there are some definite trends emerging as to what Australians are looking for – or not looking for – in their new homes.

 

We no longer need to be close to cities

With working weeks increasingly split between time in the office and time at home, Australians are no longer commuting to their workplace five days a week. A longer trip to the office is much more tolerable if you’re only going in for one or two days, and this has given buyers an unprecedented freedom in where they choose to live, as they are no longer tied to their workplace’s location.

Buyers are now much more likely to consider moving to rural areas or the suburban fringes. Not only does it offer them more space, but it’s more affordable. Master-planned communities such as Merrifield in Mickleham, Austin in Lara or Westwood in Fraser Rise are highly desirable as they offer a wealth of amenity within easy reach of their residents.

And for those dreaming of that sea or country change, it doesn’t necessarily have to wait until retirement.

 

We need more space to work at home

After last year’s lockdowns, no one wants to spend any more time working from kitchen benches or the dining table. Studies and home office spaces are the new essential when looking for a home. Data from realestate.com.au showed that the search keyword ‘study’ had grown the most in popularity on their platform last year.

Along with study spaces for the parents, dedicated homework spaces for kids are also a consideration, in case remote learning returns.

REA Insights – Keyword Popularity

 

We want spaces that are functional and flexible.

Dedicated spaces like home theatre rooms are no longer as desirable as they once were. Buyers much prefer spaces that are flexible, such as open spaces that can be partitioned with furniture, or small alcoves and nooks that can fit a desk. A room that can transition from a working space during the week to a play space on the weekend is much more useful to the current home buyer than spaces with a fixed purpose.

There are also families who may have adult children living with them once again, if they became unemployed during the pandemic or are saving for a house deposit in today’s rapidly growing market. Therefore, for some couples, having the ability to host their adult children in their home will be a consideration when looking for new property.

 

We’re spending more time in our own backyards.

Since the pandemic, there has been a greater focus on time spent locally. Not just local in the sense of the immediate streets and parks that surround our homes, but even the time spent in our own backyards. Buyers are looking for homes that don’t just offer functionality, but a feeling of retreat or sanctuary. Bigger backyards and other outdoor areas such as courtyards, balconies and terraces are a great selling point for homes as they provide a higher quality of living.

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