How the pandemic has changed the house hunt



New NAB data details the factors that have become more important to Australian homebuyers since the pandemic.

The top change is the need for a work or study area, while greater value is also placed on having good local amenities and the size of a property. In contrast, interest in apartments and the desire to be close to the CBD has weakened.

NAB Executive, Home Ownership, Andy Kerr said more flexible working arrangements have driven the change in preferences, with commute times becoming less of a factor.

“For many, the great Australian dream is a spacious home with a nice backyard for entertaining and it’s more affordable in outer suburbs and regional towns than the inner-city,” Mr Kerr said.

“As a result, it’s been no surprise to see price growth in regional areas outpacing capital cities.”

The research, which surveyed 330 property professionals (including investors, real estate agents, & developers), reveals around nine in 10 (86%) see a study or work area as more important now to homebuyers than it was pre-pandemic.

Other factors to hold greater value include good local shopping, restaurants and amenities (75%), the size of the property (65%), buying a house over an apartment (63%) and access to good public transport (51%).

“Lockdowns have reshaped how we live and with many at home for longer periods, the desire for a little more space has grown,” Mr Kerr said.

“This may mean a larger living room for the kids to play, a dedicated study to separate work from home life or a bigger backyard for the new puppy to run around.”

Regional vs metro

The factor that has shown the greatest decline in importance is the need to be in a metro area, with 57 per cent saying this is now less important. Victorians are seen most willing to move away from metro areas on the back of Melbourne’s longer lockdown.

In a similar vein, consideration of a move to regional areas is swelling, with 85 per cent listing this as a more important factor. Buyers in NSW, home to Australia’s most expensive capital, are seen to be keenest to consider a regional move. This shows up in price data as regional NSW outpaces all other regions.

“The idea of a sea change or tree change is exciting to many Australians and a large number of customers have made the move in recent months as hybrid working models become more common,” Mr Kerr said.

“Our data shows more than one in 10 Australians expect to buy a home this year*, and more and more will be looking further out than we have seen historically.”

Digital shifts

Australians are also changing how they are purchasing a home. Now one-third of home lending appointments are done via video, with more than 15,000 appointments booked online since NAB’s home loan appointment booking tool launched in September.

“We know purchasing a home can be a daunting experience and the rise of video has enabled face-to-face support with a quicker turnaround and greater convenience,” Mr Kerr said.

“We’re seeing some banks overseas report 80 per cent of their appointments via video so it’s a trend we expect to endure.”

More charts available here.



New South Wales

“The regional push is more prevalent in NSW than any other state,” Mr Kerr said.

“Given Sydney prices remain the highest in the country, it’s probably little surprise moving further out to secure more space has proven popular. Proximity to the Blue Mountains and Central Coast beaches, in particular, has proven fashionable over the past year.

“And while the home office is a strong trend across all states, the greatest increase in demand is in NSW.”


“The data suggest the longer lockdowns have had an impact on homebuying preferences in Victoria as it is the state where being close to a metro area has declined the most in importance,” Mr Kerr said.

“At the same time, the size of the property, buying a house over an apartment and having a dedicated work area have all increased significantly in importance over the past 12 months.”


“The standout result in the Queensland data is the growing interest in regional locations,” Mr Kerr said.

“Coastal areas are particularly popular, including the Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Cairns, while Ipswich has drawn strong demand for those wanting to stay closer to the state capital.”

Western Australia

“Homebuyers in WA are extremely keen to get a dedicated study or work area, with the change in importance of this factor far outweighing any other through the pandemic,” Mr Kerr said.

“However, the regional push isn’t quite as strong in WA. We put this down to the comparative affordability of Perth as against the eastern capitals.”

South Australia

“The data in South Australia stands out for several reasons,” Mr Kerr said.

“Firstly, it is the state where the importance of good local shopping, restaurants and amenities has risen the most. Access to good public transport has also become much more important.

“In contrast, the regional push and move away from metro areas is least prominent in SA. This may be linked to affordability as Adelaide prices remain comfortably below the eastern state capitals.”

Background information

  • Over the past 12 months, dwelling prices have risen 11.4 per cent in regional areas as against 4.8 per cent in the capital cities, according to CoreLogic data.
  • Over the past 12 months, house prices have risen at double the pace of apartments.
  • Home loan appointments can be booked at:

* Recent NAB research shows 45% of Australians believe now is a good time to buy a home, with 13% planning to buy a home in the next 12 months.



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