It is now becoming very clear that working from home (WFH) will become much more predominant than it was before COVID-19. Whether it holds at the current level, goes back to being closer to what it was prior, or finds a sweet spot in between, is subject to various arguments. One well-known international business, Atlassian, has recently announced that all their staff can now work from home, or wherever they like, forever. My feeling is that generally WFH will be substantially greater than it was before the current pandemic. Under that assumption, there are implications for property research and lifestyle preferences that can’t be denied.
The first is the issue of where to live. Without the necessity of having to live closer to concentrations of employment opportunities and employer offices, the options for home location are greatly expanded. A portion of the current workforce had already decided that they would prefer to be outside such concentrations and accept the longer travel times. However, most located themselves within easy access to major transport routes and hubs. That is no longer a key consideration, but neither is the need to live in any specific city or region at all.
When the criteria of “where” is noticeably less important when choosing a home, other factors are elevated in importance. Quality of life aspects such as access to beaches or other natural beauty, lack of heavy traffic, community engagement, and healthier environment, can all now be seriously considered. Similarly, for practical aspects such as school catchment zones and results, cost of living, and broadband Internet coverage. Given the broad expanse and diversity of Australia covering some 7.7 million square kilometres, 35,800 kilometres of mainland coastline, and some 2,200 cities and towns, there are many options for choosing a home.
At present, less than 10% of the Australia population live in towns with less than 10,000 people but over 70% live in major cities of over 100,000 people. That concentration in the major cities and sparsity in small towns will change drastically in the light of COVID-19 and WFH. So, what are the implications for property research.
Innovative businesses in the PropTech sector are responding quickly to the abovementioned trends and re-aligning their solution offerings. Property research sites have almost unanimously offered users “where do you want to live” as the starting point. In order to meet the radically changed paradigms, that will now need to be “how do you want to live”. Advanced capability such as geospatial data analytics, artificial intelligence, and sentiment analysis will be enabling users to enter their lifestyle preferences and having the ideal homes and location options presented back to them.
Residz is typical of the new breed of PropTech players responding to these challenges, presenting lifestyle, risk, and other data attributes across every single house in Australia, thereby allowing users to see all their available options. This is the new world of property research.