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The Experts

Changing the way we use our homes

John McGrath
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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Affordability, the rising cost of living, our ageing population and increasing multiculturalism is driving a revolution in the way we use our homes.

As revealed in our latest McGrath Report 2018, multi-generational living – where more than one generation of related adults live together, is on the rise as more extended families look to help each other both financially and in terms of lifestyle, particularly in our major capital cities.

We are also seeing a strong trend in home owners seeking ways to make money from their homes, with Airbnb enabling principal places of residence to be used for short term letting.

Changes to state planning laws are also allowing more people to build granny flats alongside their homes to accommodate family members or rent out to tenants.

In Sydney, the prevalence of people living in multi-gen homes has increased by 31.8% in just 10 years.

According to the latest Census, 129,885 grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings were living with a core family unit of mum, dad and children compared with 98,564 in 2006. In Melbourne, multi-gen living has increased by 37.7% and in Brisbane by 39%.

Among the most common scenarios is grandparents living with the core family unit due to their need for care or to help raise their grandkids to save on child care costs.

Families are also living together simply to pool funds, with a typical mortgage now requiring 39% of household income to service compared with 25% in 2001, according to CoreLogic’s 2017 Perceptions of Housing Affordability Report.

As our population continues to age, we expect this trend to grow within our marketplace.

Multiculturalism is also playing a significant role in the rise of multi-gen living, especially given increasing immigration from Asia where it is common for several generations to share a home.

Another common multi-gen scenario is 20-somethings remaining in the family home to save money for a place of their own. In 2016, 18% of Sydneysiders aged 25-34 were still living with their parents. In Melbourne, it was 16.5% and in Brisbane it was 12.5%, according to Census data.

This trend is being driven by housing affordability, with young people struggling to save the deposit for a first home and often needing the bank of mum and dad to make up the difference.

According to CoreLogic, 62% of young Australians living with their parents said they could not afford to move out.

Within the property market, multi-gen living has resulted in greater demand for larger homes with teen retreats, self-contained in-law accommodation and granny flats in the backyard.

With the cost of living increasing, more Australians are also looking for ways to make money from their homes.

Airbnb has provided a substantial platform, with many owners leasing their homes while they are away on holidays. Almost 200 countries have Airbnb listings and Australia is among the top 10 destinations and top 10 sources of outbound guests, according to its website.

We expect these trends to continue, primarily in major capital cities where the cost of living and property prices are high and there are large populations and multicultural communities.

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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