What buyers want in a post-COVID world

COVID-19 has changed what we want from our homes. And the proof is in the most searched for keywords on realestate.com.au and what buyers are telling agents they are looking for. If you’re in the market to sell, it is important to be aware of what your target buyer is looking for so your agent can pitch the property in the right way.

The predominant change, according to online searches and a recent survey of 1,176 Australians aged over 18, is that people are increasingly prioritising a separate study and spacious living areas, including a larger kitchen. With the desire for a separate study, it’s clear more people want their homes to be more flexible and cater for both their personal and professional lives. This certainly makes sense given so many of us were forced to work from home during lockdowns, with many finding the working from home situation so successful, that they have continued the practice post lockdowns.

The survey also revealed that more Australians would prefer to live in a house on a decent sized block over a high-density living arrangement. This begs the question – will there be a resurgence of the post war great Aussie dream of a home on a quarter acre block? And is convenience in terms of location being replaced by the convenience of choice when it comes to how we combine our home and work lives?

When we look at the top 10 searches on realestate.com.au and compare the first half of 2020 to the second half, the results are very interesting. Where in the first half of 2020 the top search terms were: ‘outdoor areas’, ‘broadband connection’ and ‘a gym’, the top search terms in the second half of the year were ‘study’ followed by ‘outdoor area’ with ‘pool’ in 3rd place.

So, a place to work from home has become more than just desirable. It has elevated to a must have on people’s lists. Of course not everyone has the luxury of a separate office space in their home, but this is where property marketing will take advantage of a home’s features to appeal to what buyers want. For example, if you are selling a 4-bedroom home, it could be pitched in a way that shows the home’s versatility to use one of the bedrooms as a separate study. Or a home that has a granny flat could be sold as a home with a separate granny flat that could be used as the ideal home office/studio. Indeed, a key design trend that has come out of the pandemic is how homes can perform multiple functions.

Will this lead to lasting design changes?

This is a question architects, developers and academics are pondering right now. Dr. Sing D’Arcy, senior lecturer at UNSW Built Environment, says, “The lasting changes on home design – if they are lasting – are basically going to be that the house is a place that you might not leave quite as much. People will be wanting the designs to match their lifestyle.”

It will certainly be interesting to look back at the end of 2021 and see whether the current trend continues, especially as the COVID-19 national vaccination rollout ramps up and things start to return to normal.

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