Lifestyle looms large when it comes to buyers’ choices — it’s influencing price, location and the design of new communities.

16 February 2023

In recent years, the housing market has taken an abrupt and dramatic shift towards prioritising the pursuit of lifestyle above all else.

This trend is not just about what buyers are looking for and what they are willing to pay for their property, but the entire approach taken by developers towards creating residential communities.

“We certainly know that lifestyle has become a more important priority than ever,” explains Eleanor Creagh, senior economist at realestate.com.au.

With that, we've seen a real ongoing reassessment of housing wants and needs.”

The pursuit of happiness

Prioritising lifestyle is quite simply about putting first what you want from your life each and every day. That could be the style of your home and its location, your daily routine, how you work and play, your health and wellbeing activities, your approach to travel, or how you spend time with family and friends.

This lifestyle equation is a unique calculation for everyone, explains Emily Wood, General Manager Brand and Customer, Frasers Property Australia.

“We've never had more change than in the last two years in terms of how people are choosing to live their life,” Wood says.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on how people thought about their lifestyles and what they would change to achieve their dream, explains Susan Stancombe, CEO, Stancombe Research and Planning.

“I think that's the real benefit of Covid's period of reflection, where people really think about, what do I want, how do I want to live my life?” Stancombe says. “It is manifest in terms of lifestyle choices. So, people are making changes, exercising choices in a way they may not have done before.”

Right location, right home

This desire for the perfect lifestyle has shown up in a drive towards outer suburban and regional properties where space, size and value can work in buyers’ favour.

This trend was underway before Covid-19, but Creagh explains the pandemic amplified it. As a result, regional house prices have shown a greater resilience than metropolitan areas in the past couple of years.

“Home prices fell 0.16% across the combined capital cities in November and are now below levels seen a year ago,” Creagh says.

“In contrast, regional areas continue to exhibit a lesser pace of price fall. In November, price falls stabilised in regional areas. Prices have increased 3.9% in the past year in regional areas, compared with a 3.1% decline in the capitals.”

Wood says this continued pursuit of lifestyle is seeing people think carefully about what sort of location and property is going to help them fulfil their dreams.

“Our homes now are performing so many more functions – we're learning, teaching, working,” Wood says. “So, I think we're looking for those adaptable, flexible spaces in our home that can really grow with us and flex with our lifestyle.”

The community factor

Completing the perfect lifestyle beyond location and house style is the ideal local community, environment and amenities.

Melina Cruickshank, Chief Product and Audience Officer at REA Group, says there’s been a huge shift towards people placing importance on the shared interests of the people living around them.

“This sense of community of where you buy has been incredibly important,” Cruickshank says.

In response to all of these changes, developers such as Frasers Property are creating communities that deliver what buyers want.

Factors offered could be different property sizes such as family homes or townhomes, having ample green spaces for health and wellbeing, or ensuring close access to schools, shops, medical facilities, transport and more.

Wood says these ever-evolving lifestyle preferences keep Frasers Property searching for what’s next.

“That's something we have to keep focused on and keep growing with people, because, just when you think you've got it right, it's going to change again,” she says. “It's a constant evolution.”

Originally published as Why Australia’s housing market will never be the same again

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