A new Bankwest national survey reveals a generational shift in the preferences of Australian house hunters, with Generation Z, the next generation of new homebuyers, more focused on apartment living as an affordable option.
The survey of more than 1600 Australians showed that, while a freestanding home remained the preference, 28 per cent of Gen Z would opt for an apartment if they were to buy right now – almost double the national average (15%).
Most of Gen Z – aged between 14 and 22 – still reported their top preference as a freestanding house, but only 45 per cent were in favour of the option, far below the national average of 60 per cent.
Gen Z’s financial position appears to be a driving force behind the change, with more young Australians than any other generation listing as important a “low cost of living” (50% v 40% average) and “cheap” (38% v 22%).
The economic impacts of COVID-19 also appear to have impacted respondents’ homebuying attitudes, with 61 per cent of Gen Z saying the pandemic had made a place that was cheap “more important” (41% average).
Millennials were also influenced by affordability, with 14 per cent looking for “a home that needs renovating”, compared to an average of 10 per cent, and the least number of all generations wanting a ready-made home (47%).
The 23 to 38-year-old Millennial cohort also proved the least fussy of all homebuyers, reporting significantly lower than the national average on all Top 10 factors of what is important when considering a home.
The findings potentially pointed to the realities of the housing market’s most active homebuyers, with Millennials less inclined to focus on the factors appealing to other generations, and instead focusing on what they can afford.
Bankwest General Manager Homebuying Peter Bouhlas said: “Owning your own home is the Great Australian Dream, and it makes sense for that dream to be unique and shaped by the Australia each generation grows up in.
“Gen Z is growing up in an Australia where housing affordability is a much greater issue than for previous generations, so the concept of apartment living might come more naturally to them than older homebuyers.
“We believe this preference is driven by two key factors, with the first being a shift in lifestyle and a desire to find a home in, or close to, urban city centres, but then there’s also the practical need to find a home that’s affordable.
“So, these findings might be pointing towards permanent changes in preferences, but it’s also possible Gen Z’s priorities will shift as their circumstances change, even though many were already considering the future.
“It’s interesting to contrast the attitudes of Gen Z – the next generation of buyers – with Millennials – the market’s current buyers – because, while house-type preferences differ, they share a mutual priority on affordability.
“It’s clear from the findings, though, that the dream of owning your own home is alive and well for most Australians – it’s just what that home and dream looks like that differs between the generations.”