What type of property will be popular post corona virus?

If I had told you this time last year that we’d be in the midst of a global pandemic, with our borders closed, footballers playing in front of empty stadiums and the AFL Grand Final would be played at night in Queensland and Melbourne would be in lockdown for 3 months, there’s not a chance you would have believed me.

Covid 19Yet, here we are.

The world is a crazy place and COVID-19 has changed it immeasurably, and possibly forever.

Like most huge societal and political shifts, these changes will inevitably be reflected in our property markets.

Priorities are likely to change, with some buyers willing to pay a little more for properties with “pandemic appeal”.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I think it’s fair to say that this pandemic has exposed some existing issues in both employment and housing that were easy to ignore in the past.

You only have to look at the shocking situation in aged care facilities around the country to see that many accommodation providers simply aren’t set up to cope with plague-like conditions – and the same goes for some dwelling types.

Remember the hard lockdowns of the public housing towers in Melbourne in early July?

Acting Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly labelled them “vertical cruise ships”, and it’s easy to see why.

With busy lifts, shared hallways and communal facilities like laundries and garbage disposals, high-rise living is the ideal breeding ground for the virus, as we’ve seen both in Australia and overseas.

So, it stands to reason that the buyers of 2021 and beyond might not be so keen to live in an apartment and be breathing the same air and touching the same lift buttons as hundreds of other people.

Instead, they may prefer to purchase standalone dwellings that they can barricade and sanitise to their heart’s content in the event of another wave of the virus.

High Rise Apartment BuildingsHigh-rise buildings were designed to organise as many people as possible in one place.

Health and hygiene were not a consideration.

However, in times of pandemic, it is necessary to reduce contact with everything that is used in multi-storey buildings: elevator, elevator buttons, door handles, surfaces and, above all, neighbours.

After forced self-isolation on different floors above the ground, often without a balcony or terrace, we will all desperately want to have a house, townhouse, villa unit or low rise, low density apartment. It can be small, but with a courtyard and a terrace where you can have coffee in the morning.

Throughout time, the primary function of the house has been safety.

Initially, it served as a hiding place from bad weather and predatory animals. Then, tall stone fortresses were built to prevent the enemy getting in.

Today, people need a house that can effectively provide social isolation.

The Entrance AreaMore than an escape from routine and urban chaos, the house now offers a retreat from viruses and infections.

Urbanisation takes a step back as we relocate to small villages and city suburbs.

While apartments in high rise towers will be out of favour, those more spacious solidly built established apartments that we used to call flats, with their own balconies and no communal facilities located in our inner and middle ring suburbs will still suit many tenants and first home buyers.

We’ll also be saying goodbye to one of the main trends of recent years: open-plan spaces, with the entrance, living room, dining space and kitchen united as occurs in many of those newly built apartment towers.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the entrance area will be separated so that we can leave our shoes, clothing and belongings on the street, rather than carry dirt into the living quarters.

Similarly we’ll be able to separate work and living spaces.

Home TrainingWidespread closures during the lockdown have also brought home how much we rely on our public parks, gyms and kid’s activities to keep us all happy and healthy.

I can only imagine what a nightmare the stay-at-home orders must have been for parents with small children living in apartments without a garden, or for gym junkies forced to substitute cans of baked beans for their usual weights in their at-home workouts.

As such, room for a home gym setup, space for the kids to do their karate or dance classes online and a reasonable outdoor area for the family to get some fresh air and vitamin D are likely going to shift from the “nice to have” category into the “non-negotiables” list for owner occupiers.

Tenants, too, will have similar wish-lists, and savvy property investors will strive to cater to this.

The way we work and live

During quarantine, most of us were forced to work from home.

Of course there was a group of people who, on the first day after the quarantine, raced to meet colleagues and drink that office coffee.

Work At HomeBut there are also those who of us who were not so keen to return to the office.

More attention will be given to the arrangement of the workplace at home.

Adequate home office facilities will be right at the top of many buyers’ property wish lists.

Anyone who has been forced to squeeze their laptop next to the kids’ schoolwork on the kitchen table or host a Zoom meeting in the spare room with the family washing hanging in the background will appreciate the need for a dedicated workspace in their next home.

Whether it’s for one or two kids to learn remotely or for mum and dad to work without leaving the house, a desk in the corner of the lounge room simply isn’t going to cut it in the post-pandemic property market.

Spatial organisation will change, with the place to work at home no longer a desk with a parody of an office chair and a lamp, slotted somewhere in the corner of the living room or under the stairs.

Now it will be a completely separate room

Buyers will instead be seeking a fully equipped, sound-insulated separate home office with large windows, blackout curtains and all the required tech such as plenty of power points a strong NBN connection and an area for a Zoom green screen.

For sellers, this means styling the spare room or office zone appropriately, so people can really envision filing their reports or tallying up their accounts in the space.

Australia Coronavirus

Add some comfortable, ergonomic furniture and highlight the window for natural light, and you’ve created the ideal home office where potential buyers can run their empire while wearing their comfiest trackpants.

Other things buyers could be looking for post-pandemic might include a spare room to house a relative in the event of another lockdown, to avoid splitting up the family.

It’s not just the property itself that will need to meet these newly evolved needs – location will play a big part too.

Buyers will want to know they’re within the zone to have groceries and other supplies easily and cheaply delivered, and adequate storage for stockpiling (not panic buying!) could also be on their wish lists.

As everything around us evolves and adapts to this new normal, homeowners and investors must do the same, and view properties with a post-pandemic eye.

Looking at the bigger picture is key has always been key to your success as a property investor.

But more than ever, whether you’re hunting for a new place to live, looking to add to your portfolio of rentals, or sprucing up a property ready for sale, it’s absolutely crucial.

Now is the time to take action and set yourself for the opportunities that will present themselves as the market moves on

Project Team Avatars

If you’re wondering what will happen to property in 2020–2021 you are not alone.

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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit Metropole.com.au


'What type of property will be popular post corona virus?' have 6 comments

    Avatar

    September 14, 2020 Ben

    Michael
    It could go the way you describe for a limited time until the next generation forgets Covid 19, as they have forgotten the GFC, and forgotten 1988. Primarily, however, what will remain is a lingering economic recession, meaning as you well know: an affordability issue for millions of Australians. We simply can’t afford to add all the features you describe to the average house. I too have been in this industry for 4-5 decades, but the difference is I deal with the big projects in Regional Australia, not the little expensive ones for the millionaires in Sydney’s million dollar suburbs. We have to “get real” and understand we cannot afford bigger homes, bigger footprints, bigger suburbia, as you describe (and we can’t afford the environmental impacts either). This bigger is better stuff is reactionary thinking rather than integrating thinking. If we adopt an integrated and economically realistic approach to our thinking, there are alternative solutions that do not involve the big is better mindset. For apartments, I suggest the following suite of solutions to the obvious problems you describe: 1. Smaller overall, bigger outdoor areas (roof gardens and banconies), 2. dual aspects to all living spaces to make the smaller interior spaces seem bigger, 3. Multi-function rooms (not extra rooms) to assist working from home, 4. The paperless approach to working (all in the cloud)- I’m doing this now managing a $300M development), 5. “No touch” lift and door solutions, vertical suction AC solutions in lifts and lobbies, 6. 2m (min) wide common passages, 7. Banning shared laundry/toilet facilities. 8. Full fresh air AC systems, 9. Top of the range PPE for all buyers (masks, shoe cleaning, gloves etc). 10. Self sterilizing common vehicles, self drive, with all recreation and conservation park destinations programmed in, voice activated- no touch doors. (Yes, we have a manufacturer in SA) 11. Body temperature sensors in common areas, to id flu/ covid sufferers. 12. Grid connect solar / battery virtual power plant, producing nett zero grid power usage, to pay for items 1-11, cost amortized over 20 years. 13. Maximum prefabrication of interchangeable built form parts of the apartment to reduce build cost. 14. 30% extra plot ratio over medium/ high rise developments for affordable housing to reduce land component cost of each affordable apartment. …..We must tackle this because there are reducing jobs in outer suburbia, and only retirees want to live there….and some retirees want the art and cultural advantages of inner urban living without the maintenance. These key points existed before Covid 19, and will continue to exist post Covid 19. This is the future, because it’s an economic and environmental imperitive.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 14, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Ben, I agree that 2020 will go down in the history books and our grandchildren will learn about it, but it will soon be forgotten by the next generation who will have their own challenges to deal with

      Reply

    Avatar

    August 12, 2020 Kate Harding

    This article is written from a place of fear and regression. Its dangerous and irresponsible to propose urban sprawl, isolated homes, backyards, bigger houses with more specific rooms (hello 1950’s Australian dream?!) as the answer. Its very ideological to suggest that we will move away from cities into more town like arrangements ha, no our cities will just continue to expand and demolish natural environments (outer Sydney). Why don’t you look to the future as an opportunity for new ways of living, not turning back to the old ways designed to segregate and control populations. Instead of adding specific rooms for your office, for entrances, for the kids home work, for a home gym, look to flexible spaces and technologies that allow rooms to have more functions, or to be closed and opened as needed, otherwise you’re creating masses of redundant spaces. Look at ways apartment buildings can be improved, adding more functionality into apartments, providing green spaces with every development that can act as a backyard, opening hallways to create indoor/ outdoor circulation to provide fresh air into shared spaces.

    Also how to you propose we afford these houses? Housing prices are already out of reach for so many people, and that’s looking at small apartments with no balcony, how do you suggest anyone afford a house with all the spaces and a backyard? Its very elitist and suggests the wealthy will be able to buy safety while the middle to lower classes need to suffer in the poorly designed ‘vertical cruise ships’. Do better. Research better. Propose better solutions.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 12, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Thanks for your thoughts Kate.
      We have many challenges ahead, don’t we? Including affordability.

      I wrote this article based on my views and perspective having been involved in property for close to 50 years now. However things still come out of the blue and surprise me.

      Reply

      Avatar

      September 13, 2020 Sarah

      Actually I think there are many people who are looking to do exactly as Michael is suggesting. Sure not everyone however we own a townhouse in the regional area of Branxton which we are currently looking to sell in order to purchase elsewhere and there is now a lot of demand in the area due to people from Sydney choosing to leave and buy further out to be able to afford bigger places with yards.

      Reply


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