Generational shift as Zoomers eye affordable apartment living

6 May 2021

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.”

Generation age brackets

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  Gen Z
Millenial
Gen X
Baby Boomer
Age
14-22 23-38 39-53 54-73
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Generation age brackets

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  Total (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millenials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomer (%)
Freestanding house
60
45
60 66 65
Duplex, townhouse villa or similar 12 7 13 6 13
Apartment 15 28 14 8 11
Don't know 8 16 8 10 7
No preference 4 3 5 10 4
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Which would you most likely choose out of the following?

(NB: Highlights indicate standouts against overall national average)

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  Total (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millenials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomer (%)
A home that was ready to move into
56 53 47 49 65
A home that needs renovating
10 9 14 12 13
A home that needs to be built
15 21 17 20 11
Don't know 8 13 11 8 7
No preference 9 4 10 11 4
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Top 10 factors (by overall responses) that are important when considering a home

(NB: Highlights indicate standouts against overall national average)

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  Total (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millenials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomer (%)
Safe location
57 56 42 58 69
Good air conditioning/ heating
48 56 34 46 56
Good air conditioning/ heating
44 37 29 47 57
Close to key infrastructure
42 41 32 36 55
Roomy inside
41 43 29 43 50
Low cost of living 40 50 30 40 43
Good sized outdoor living space 39 33 30 43 47
Undercover garage/ sufficient parking 38 31 22 36 54
Environmentally friendly home 38 39 29 30 51
Secure 37 55 28 35 39
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Change in importance of finding a home that is 'cheap' due to impacts of COVID-19

(NB: Highlights indicate standouts against overall national average)

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  Total (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millenials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomer (%)
Less important
3 1 3 9 0
No change
56 38 59 45 81
More important
41 61 38 46 19
Swipe

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