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Young Australians look to swap housemates for home ownership

21 November 2020

New research from Westpac shows that COVID-19 is continuing to shape Australian home ownership goals, with the number of first home buyers looking to enter the property market in the next five years doubling from 7 per cent before the pandemic to 16 per cent1.

No longer wanting to pay rent (54%) is the major driver for purchasing a first home, followed by seeking more stability (39%) and financial security (37%) after the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. 

Nearly half (48%) of first home buyers said they were more optimistic about entering the housing market than they were 12 months ago, due to factors like house prices (38%), low interest rates (24%) and the opportunity to live in a new area (24%).

Beyond financial reasons, the findings suggest time spent with others during restrictions has also been a motivating factor, with seven in ten (69%) of those currently sharing a roof with housemates, parents or in-laws now determined to get a foot on the ladder. A third (32%) of prospective buyers are also seeking a sense of independence through home ownership.

Westpac’s Managing Director of Mortgages, Anthony Hughes, said the research shows young Australians are increasingly seeking the sense of independence and stability that home ownership provides.

“It’s encouraging that so many Australians are thinking about home ownership despite some of the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“It’s also interesting to see this is now largely being driven by Gen Z, who after being cooped up at home during restrictions are now ready to leave their housemates or parents behind for a place of their own – many of whom might not have considered this a possibility prior to COVID-19.

“Even though younger generations have been some of the most financially impacted this year, it’s positive that many have really used this time to take stock of their finances and get serious about their long-term goals.”

The research also found that almost half (48%) of Australians believe that COVID-19 has made them re-consider the type of suburb or area they would like to live in. This number increased to 59 per cent for younger age groups2.

The top locations first home buyers identified they would like to buy in are:

  • Sydney – western suburbs located within 10km from the city centre, like Ashbury and Marrickville.
  • Melbourne – eastern suburbs located 20-40km from the CBD, like Mitcham and Croydon.
  • Brisbane – Brisbane CBD and inner-city suburbs up to 20km out, like Chermside and Zillmere.
  • Adelaide – southern suburbs located about 10-20km from the CBD, like Bedford Park and Bellevue Heights.
  • Perth – northern suburbs located within 10km from the city centre, like Dianella and Nollamara.

“While we’re seeing an increasing interest in properties that offer more space, there’s still a strong desire from first home buyers to live somewhere that’s still only about 20-30 minutes away from the CBD,” Mr Hughes said.

“With a younger generation of buyers emerging, many are also weighing up areas that would enable them to maintain a certain lifestyle, like Sydney’s Inner West which is in close proximity to social hubs and nightlife, while also catering to changing needs like the ability to work from home more.”

Where first home buyers want to live in 2020:

Planning to buy in Sydney

Up to 10km from the city centre

1. Western suburbs

2. Sydney CBD & inner-city suburbs

3. Northern suburbs

Planning to buy in Melbourne

About 20-40km from the city centre

1. Eastern suburbs

2. Northern suburbs

3. Melbourne CBD & inner-city suburbs

Planning to buy in Brisbane

About 10-20km from the city centre

1. Brisbane CBD & inner-city suburbs

2. Northern suburbs

3. Southern suburbs

Planning to buy in Adelaide

About 10-20km from the city centre

1. Southern suburbs

2. Northern suburbs

3. Western suburbs

Planning to buy in Perth

Up to 10km from the city centre

1. Northern suburbs

2. Perth CBD & inner-city suburbs

3. Eastern suburbs


For further information:

Emalie McPherson

0409 454 858

1 In 2020, 16% of Australians were planning to buy a first home in the next five years, increasing from 7% in 2019.
2 59% of Gen Z said COVID-19 has made them reconsider where they’d like to live, compared to 48% nationally.