Pandemic triggers shift in West Aussie housing preferences

1 March 2023

Bankwest’s Home Truths Report has revealed the global pandemic has resulted in a significant shift in WA homebuying preferences that support the removal of barriers to women’s participation in the workplace.

Bankwest’s Home Truths survey collected responses from more than 1700 Australians, with a focus on WA, to better understand the needs, preferences, and attitudes of the homebuyers of today and tomorrow.

The data revealed the pandemic management phase marked a paradigm shift in housing preferences, with almost half (44%) of WA respondents saying working from home had changed what they desired in an ideal property.

That number was higher for WA’s Millennials and Gen Zs – the current and next generation of homebuyers – with 50 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively, saying the impacts of the pandemic had changed their preferences.

A quarter (25%) of Western Australians surveyed said they worked from home at least once a week, with half (50%) confirming the pandemic led to an increase in performing their role remotely.

The shift in the accepted social norms of flexible working triggered by the pandemic, in turn, changed what Western Australians consider as important home features, with nine-in-10 (91%) looking for more space/rooms.

A dedicated study/home office was the feature that has become most desirable as a result of the pandemic, with 53 per cent of respondents labelling it important, while 34 per cent said it was the most important consideration.

The data also revealed significant differences in the impact of COVID on the housing preferences and working patterns of Australian men and women, with more of the latter working from home and desiring more space.

More than a quarter (27%) of WA’s women reported working from home at least once a week, with more than half (54%) saying that increased due to COVID, compared to 22 per cent and 47 per cent of men, respectively.

The largest difference was in what feature was more important, with women nationally calling out a dedicated study/home office as important at a significantly higher rate than men – 47 per cent compared to 30 per cent.

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre-Workplace Gender Equality Agency (BCEC-WGEA) annual Gender Equity Insights report repeatedly highlights the significance of flexible working to women’s participation in the workplace.

The Home Truths data confirmed the COVID-triggered shift in flexible working culture had resulted in more women working from home, potentially enabling more women to remain in or enter the workplace and progress careers.

Bankwest General Manager Homebuying Peter Bouhlas said: “Western Australians have shown incredible resilience throughout the global pandemic, consistently adapting to manage constantly changing conditions.

“These Home Truths insights suggest those changes have also extended to people’s housing preferences in response to a broader acceptance of flexible working arrangements due to pandemic health measures.

“Increased requirements to work from home likely exposed the inadequacies of many houses to function as a fulltime office, simply because our properties weren’t designed to be offices.

“Flexible working has become more broadly accepted due to COVID and this data shows more people are working flexibly, so it makes sense that more of us are considering and prioritising features that better enable us to do that.

“We also know how important a positive flexible working culture is to enabling women to participate in the workplace, and these figures show that more women have adopted flexible working following the pandemic.”

Generation age brackets
 

  Gen Z Millennial Gen X Baby boomer
Age 14-25 26-41 42-57 58-76
 
Gen Z
Millennial
Gen X
Baby boomer
Age
14-25
26-41
42-57
58-76

On average, how often do you work from home as part of your occupation/s?

  WA (%) Men (%) Women (%) Gen Z (%) Millennials (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%)
Never 55 49 60 65 50 54 70
Once a month or less 13 17 9 8 16 13 4
Once every few weeks 5 10 2 9 7 4 3
Once a fortnight 1 1 1 2 0 2 0
Net: at least once a week 25 22 27 16 26 27 23
 
WA (%)
Men (%)
Women (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millennials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomers (%)
Never
55
49
60
65
50
54
70
Once a month or less
13
17
9
8
16
13
4
Once every few weeks
5
10
2
9
7
4
3
Once a fortnight
1
1
1
2
0
2
0
Net: at least once a week
25
22
27
16
26
27
23

How does this compare to how often you worked from home before the Covid-19 pandemic?

(NB: asked of the 45% who ever WFH as part of their occupation)
  WA (%) Men (%) Women (%) Gen Z (%) Millennials (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%)
Same amount as before
32 30 33 29 26 35 53
Net: less than before
18 23 13 30 27 11 0
Net: more than before
50 47 54 42 48 54 47
 
WA (%)
Men (%)
Women (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millennials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomers (%)
Same amount as before
32
30
33
29
26
35
53
Net: less than before
18
23
13
30
27
11
0
Net: more than before
50
47
54
42
48
54
47

Has working from home because of Covid-19 changed what you desire in an ideal home?

(NB: asked of the 82% that WFH the same amount or more than before covid-19 pandemic)
  WA (%) Men (%) Women (%) Gen Z (%) Millennials (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%)
Yes
44 44 44 76 50 41 10
No
47 47 46 24 42 49 47
Not sure
9 8 10 0 8 10 9
 
WA (%)
Men (%)
Women (%)
Gen Z (%)
Millennials (%)
Gen X (%)
Baby Boomers (%)
Yes
44
44
44
76
50
41
10
No
47
47
46
24
42
49
47
Not sure
9
8
10
0
8
10
9

What has become more desirable?
(top 3 - asked of the 44% for whom Covid-19 has changed what they desire in a home)

NB: gender data in this table is national to ensure integrity of sample size
  WA (%) Men (%) Women (%)
Net: more space/rooms
91 80 89
Dedicated study/home office
53 30 47
Larger home (general)
35 34 29
Open-plan living 20 24 24
 
WA (%)
Men (%)
Women (%)
Net: more space/rooms
91
80
89
Dedicated study/home office
53
30
47
Larger home (general)
35
34
29
Open-plan living
20
24
24

What is the number one feature that is now most desirable in your ideal home?

(top 3 - asked of the 44% for whom Covid-19 has changed what they desire in a home)
  WA (%) 
Net: more space/rooms 69
Dedicated study/home office 34
Larger home (general) 20
Privacy 8
 
WA (%) 
Net: more space/rooms
69
Dedicated study/home office
34
Larger home (general)
20
Privacy
8

About Bankwest
Bankwest’s vision is to be a simple, easy bank for the Australian homeowner of today and tomorrow, and our purpose is to build a brighter future for all. Bankwest provides personal and everyday banking solutions for customers across Australia. We support customers in doing their banking in the ways that suit them, with innovative digital solutions, an Australia-based 24/7 Contact Centre, a passionate broker community, and our WA branch network. Bankwest is a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit license 234945.

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