Backyards, beaches & balconies: Westpac reveals how COVID-19 is changing Australian home ownership goals
From seeking more green space to dreaming of the sanctuary of a home office, new research from Westpac has revealed how COVID-19 restrictions have had a significant impact on what Australians want most in their next home.
With Australians juggling work, school and family commitments under a shared roof, the research found spacious living is now top of the agenda; a third (34%) want to live somewhere less populated, one in three (31%) want to be closer to either parks or shops, and one in five (20%) are seeking suburbs with larger properties.
Outdoor features like a backyard (27%) and entertainment area (18%) are also now considered more important because of COVID-19. When it comes to being indoors, having a separate study area (20%) and large kitchen (15%) topped the list.
Anthony Hughes, Westpac’s Managing Director of Mortgages said Australians have spent this time reflecting on their living space and how it will meet their future needs.
“For many of us, staying home for an extended period has changed how we use the space we live in, whether that’s home schooling from the kitchen table or setting up a makeshift office in the lounge room,” he said.
“Our research suggests that this has started a behavioural shift in what Australians want in a home, with people now seeking more space outdoors, proximity to parks and beaches, and even larger properties.
“We are also seeing people wanting their homes to cater for both their professional and personal lives, with one in five Australians wanting a separate study as more businesses adapt to working remotely.
“With the Government’s recently announced HomeBuilder grants, we expect more Australians will be considering a major renovation to upgrade their home to better meet their needs, or even starting a new home build to cater for their changing lifestyle.”
Australian homeowners are less likely to prefer higher density living in a post-pandemic world, with more than three quarters (77%) saying they would now prefer to live in a house because of COVID-19. This is compared to 22 per cent who sought a home in an inner-city or urban area back in 20191.
In response to the pandemic, Westpac has introduced a number of support measures to help its home loan customers who have been affected by COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many Australians, and we have helped more than 120,000 customers defer their mortgage repayments to assist with providing some breathing space during this time,” Mr Hughes said.
“Customers who have lost income or a job can apply to defer their mortgage repayments for up to three months, with a further three months available upon review. We are already contacting customers before their three month-deferral term is due to end to see how they are going and if further support is required.
“We’ve also made changes to give customers more flexibility with home loan repayments. This means eligible customers with interest only home loan repayments can apply to extend their term for up to 12 months, while those with principal and interest repayments can switch to interest only repayments for the same period,” added Hughes.