Confidence had returned to the Australian residential market heading into 2020 spurred on by rising wealth, low interest rates and a limited number of new properties being built. These drivers are encouraging market recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent lockdowns, as well as state and international border closures.

Lockdown has certainly allowed buyers to reflect on what they want in the future. At this time, Knight Frank Research surveyed our global clients to understand how the pandemic was having an impact on residential buyers’ attitudes.

A quarter are more likely to relocate over the next 12 months as a result of the pandemic with 40% buying a property in the same location. One third will be to a different country – Australia was fourth most desirable – attracted to the quality of life, stable currency and world class education. A quarter will be
elsewhere, but in the same country.

Upgrading the family’s residence will be the top reason for purchasing a new home in the future, followed by improved access to quality healthcare. Other reasons listed were a new holiday home in the sun, business or employment reasons and downsizing.

Almost half of the respondents said they’re more likely to buy a detached family home than they were prior to the pandemic – favouring waterfront and rural homes.

Interestingly, demand for apartments has remained largely static with 52% of respondents stating their attitude to apartment living has remained the same.

Michelle Ciesielski
Partner & Head of Residential Research
Knight Frank Australia

Amidst the challenges facing our industry, as we gradually move to more stability and emerging pipeline of building and construction projects, we cannot lose sight of the longer term objectives of social and economic reform. The construction industry employs 1.2 million people, accounts for 9% ($380 billion) of Australia’s GDP and key to the road to recovery and employment growth.

Implicit in this, is leading and embracing sustainability in all aspects from conception, site selection, design, building and eventual occupancy and lifecycle of all buildings. In the author’s view, we need to consider the size and purpose of all buildings considering permanent changes in working, living, and learning patterns because of CV-19. What will this look like?

Shorter office and apartment buildings, regional hubs, larger homes, fewer shops, regulated sustainability and energy saving, will see the end of the Skyscraper and high density city living. This is possible in Australia due to large tracts of land available for urban spread around capital cities. 2030 will Australia’s population reach close to 30 million and these folk should not be accommodated in crowded cities for social, economic and environmental reasons.

As reported, Victorian government announced a $797 million energy efficiency affordability package. This sets minimum energy standards with five stars for rental properties and seven stars for new builds and is also significant policy that can advance sustainability in retrofits and transform infrastructure.

This comes as part and parcel of Victorian and SW Governments’ significant investments in harnessing the power of energy efficiency and social housing to create jobs and drive economic recovery.

“Rurbanisation”, as coined by the author, needs to part of the solution. This is the development or rural communities such as Goulbourn in NSW and Seymour in Victoria to house around 250,000 to 500,000 people, each with access to a VFT, 45-60 minutes from outer Sydney and Melbourne.

Commercial building is no exception and we, as industry leading building professionals, can develop solutions and guide developers as to areas in which to build, what to build and hence, advise architects as to the ways in which buildings are to be built. Embracing technology, energy saving solutions for the betterment of occupants and the broader community will be an imperative over this coming decade.

Geoff Dart
Executive Director
Australian Institute of Building

A recent SHAWOOD consumer survey found that 24% of Australians would buy a more sustainable or environmentally friendly home if they had the chance. This growing awareness will mean a greater focus on sustainable technology, features, and approach in 2021.

At Sekisui House Australia, we take a holistic approach to sustainability to create long term and resilient housing in Australia. Housing should be economically sustainable, utilising materials and passive design principles to reduce ongoing running costs; and environmentally sustainable, optimising innovative building technologies and construction practices that result in long term efficiencies. It should also be socially sustainable, where homes are built within a
thoughtfully planned community designed to promote health and wellbeing.

SHAWOOD is a sophisticated pre-engineered post and beam system that delivers a home that is inherently strong and precise, with substantial improvements in quality and reliability, significantly reducing workload, build times and waste. This highly advanced wooden frame construction system was created by Sekisui House in 1995, following the Kobe earthquake in Japan. The SHAWOOD system exhibits the necessary resilience and durability to cope with the country’s frequent natural disasters.

In Australia, we fuse this technology with key design and construction principles that factor in health and wellbeing, thermal comfort, acoustic comfort, passive design, and energy efficiency, to ensure an optimal living experience. This kind of timeless design is allowing Australians to live and love their homes for longer as trends, needs, and abilities change.

Craig D’Costa
General Manager
The Hermitage and SHAWOOD
Sekisui House Australia