Finance Finance News Home among the gum trees? The changing face of the Australian dream

Home among the gum trees? The changing face of the Australian dream

Australians' idea of the dream home has changed.
The great Australian dream is changing as HSBC data shows home preferences have shifted. Photo: AAP
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Pools, spare rooms and even bathtubs have been dropped from the average Australian’s idea of their “dream home”, as buyers increasingly look for high-tech homes in pet-friendly neighbourhoods.

The Great Australian Dream Home survey, conducted by HSBC, found people’s idea of a dream house have changed in recent years, with some of the traditional features that previous generations held most dear being dropped.

Tubs are no longer seen as necessary features in a bathroom, and pools and spare bedrooms have similarly lost their appeal.

Instead, HSBC found “Scandinavian” style buildings with “high-tech amenities” were the new dream properties. Features such as walk-in wardrobes, marble bathrooms, and modern kitchens were also high on buyers’ dream list.

The Australian dream has changed to a more modern home.
Australians are increasingly looking for modern, high-tech homes.

Certain traditional features remain unchanged, however. Barbecues and Hills Hoist clotheslines are still features sought after by most Australians, as is the idea of living in a single-storey, freestanding building.

One of the more surprising finds was that more Australians valued pet-friendly accommodation (69 per cent) over living in a school catchment zone (31 per cent).

“One-quarter of Australians said the pet they had (or wanted) influenced their choice of housing,” the report said.

Location, location, location

In the past five years, home owners have migrated to outer suburban areas in hope of buying their slice of the Australian dream, Geoff Brailey, lead solution designer with social research company McCrindle, said.

Mr Brailey said this shift is the result of rising house prices and home owners questioning their perception of value.

Ken Premtic, a buyer’s advocate with Melbourne business Secret Agent, said younger buyers value different things from previous generations. For instance, those aged 20 to 30 were more likely to buy smaller properties closer to city centres, rather than moving further out into the suburbs to find a big backyard.

Mr Brailey said this trend was likely to continue in the next five years.

“We are seeing a move away from standalone properties to apartment-style living, where Aussies can maintain their lifestyles, in desirable locations,” he said.

“Australians are looking to move towards transport links, and in high-density areas – backyards to balconies.”

People in this age group also valued the design of a property more highly, and judged a home on its use of space, the materials used to build it, and how sustainable it is.

Price a big issue

Price also plays a big role in buyers’ preferences.

Alice Del Vecchio, HSBC’s head of mortgages, said money was one of the chief barriers to Australians owning their dream home.

Work and family commitments were also cited as holding back home owners.

“In the meantime, they personalise their home with their choice of furnishings, spending on average $582 a year on home decor and $897 on fittings and fixtures,” she said.

Mr Premtic said this also feeds into the nation’s diminishing fascination with pool ownership. Pools typically add 5 to 10 per cent to the value of a property, but also bring additional maintenance costs.

“There’s a saying that people only use their pool three times a year,” he said.

“People don’t really use them that much, which makes the cost of use pretty substantial.”

Garages and spare rooms also put cost pressures on home owners,  the HSBC report said.

Spare bedrooms are used by guests less than once a month in 62 per cent of cases, and while 39 per cent of home owners have two car spots, almost half of those people don’t use both spaces.