How property search behaviour has changed during coronavirus crisis


Demand for home offices, studios and granny flats have soared amid the coronavirus pandemic, as cooped-up house hunters seek out more space.


Separate areas in which to work and unwind became increasingly front of mind for renters and buyers in recent months, new Domain data shows, with searches for home offices more than doubling across several states.


House hunters were also increasingly on the lookout for balconies, gardens and courtyards and retreats, according to the keyword search data.


“That’s a result of being cooped up,” said Melbourne buyer’s advocate Cate Bakos. “We’ve had an enormous uptake of people wanting an extra room for a study or even having two studies, because if you’ve got two people working from home professionally and they’re both in a lot of video meetings it can be hard to work in the one space.”


Property hunters in Victoria, which has had the strictest social distancing measures, had the biggest change, with searches for properties with home offices over April and May up 830 per cent on the previous two months. Searches for granny flats and retreats increased by 287 per cent and 159 per cent respectively, with searches for balconies and studios also increasing by more than 50 per cent.


Ms Bakos said the months spent in lockdown had reminded buyers of the value of a balcony and backyard, even a small one, and made buyers less willing to compromise on internal space. “They are also really keen to have kids and adults segregated, whether that’s two living areas or the kids’ bedrooms being further away from the parents’ where they might have to be working on a laptop,” she said, adding good internet connectivity had increasingly become a top priority.


In addition to tougher restrictions, Ms Bakos attributed Victoria’s significant spike in home office demand to the high concentration of white-collar workers in Melbourne. “People did feel the need to be well set-up at home and I think for a lot of people it’s become aspirational as well. They realise they can do it and like the lifestyle,” she said.


After Victoria, the ACT had the biggest change, with interest in studios up 414 per cent, followed by a 100 per cent increase in home office searches. Demand for home workspaces was also up significantly in NSW, increasing 146 per cent, as was demand for balconies and courtyards and gardens – up 84 per cent and 74 per cent respectively.


Buyer’s agent Peter Kelaher, of PK Property, said more people were looking to move to lifestyle locations such as Sydney’s upper northern beaches, as they expected to have more flexibility to work from home in the long term as a result of the pandemic.


“A  lot [of these buyers] are looking for a home office, but also looking for a separate area to Airbnb. During the week they work from the office and on the weekend they rent it out,” he said.


While a study was once considered by many as a nice-to-have feature, Mr Kelaher said, it was becoming a necessity for a growing cohort of professionals. He added buyers were also on the lookout for granny flats for adult children who had returned home in recent months, or delayed moving out in the first place.


On the flipside,  home office demand in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania – where professionals services are less concentrated – declined in April and May. However at the same time, searchers in all three states caused a spike in searches for retreats, up 122 per cent, 91 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively.

Tim Davis of Ray White Sherwood in Brisbane has seen strong interest in two recent listings with granny flats, one of which had five offers after the first open home.

“Buyers are specifically coming to look at the granny flats,” he said. “I haven’t had too many people looking at them from an investment point of view, more for older children or parents moving in, it’s more about consolidating the family into one property.”


Meanwhile, WA saw strong increases in both home office and retreat searches, up 103 and 77 per cent respectively, while searches in the Northern Territory were up 40 per cent for home offices but down for everything else.


Article by Kate Burke. Originally published on