Elite AgentOPINION

Matt Lahood: Three trends to watch in 2022

It’s safe to say that 2021 has been a big year in real estate.

We’ve seen record demand for properties, soaring prices and those almighty market falls that some predicted what seems like a lifetime ago, at the start of the pandemic in March and April 2020, just haven’t eventuated.

Along with this, some definitive trends have arisen over the past two years, and you might be wondering if they’re going to continue into 2022 and beyond.

While I’m no psychic, there are three main trends that we’ve seen in 2021 that we will continue to see next year. And while some will stay the same, others will morph into a slightly different variation. 

So, without further ado, these are the real estate trends we have seen in 2021 that will continue in 2022.

1. The rise of the home office

With the advent of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions and lockdowns, homeowners and renters suddenly realised they needed a space to work from.

Not only that, it dawned on them that they needed space for their children to do their home learning from.

This year, a big trend was houses turning over because people needed more designated work areas.

While a home office used to be a ‘nice to have’ feature on people’s property wishlists, in 2021 it soared to the top spot.

It was not only essential, it was ‘the’ reason for selling, buying and moving.

This is a trend that I foresee continuing long into 2022 and beyond.

As a result, the need for a home office will remain in buyers’ Top 3 must-have features when they’re house-hunting.

But rather than buyers simply wanting a home office, I predict we will see more buyers searching for homes with a home office and separate living spaces that can be closed off from the rest of the home.

People have realised that while open plan living is great for family life, it’s not conducive to Mum doing a Zoom meeting while Dad prepares a work report and little Johnny and Penny take their maths lesson.

We’re already seeing some buyers looking for second living areas, and I expect we will see a lot of people searching for homes with attic space that can be converted to a study or meeting area, or even features such as detached granny flats or trendy office pods in the backyard.

2. The great regional migration

Right across the country, we’ve seen people pack up their homes in the cities and head to regional areas over the past two years.

The pandemic forced us to work from home, and with lockdowns and restrictions keeping people there, many decided they wanted to make a tree or sea change.

This is a trend I foresee continuing well into next year and beyond, but it won’t be at the same high rate as we’ve seen this year.

People are still keen to keep their flexible working from home arrangements, but many will couple this with some time in the office, and it’s for this reason, we’ll see regional migration rates drop a little.

However, while in the past buyers who needed to work in the CBD of major cities wanted to live within a one-hour commute of the office, we’re starting to see the rise of lifestyle suburbs such as Bowral and towns such as Maitland, in the Hunter Valley, becoming more popular.

I foresee this trend growing in 2022, with buyers searching for a lifestyle property within a two-hour commute of the CBD.

Couple this with the extra designated work/study spaces from Trend 1, and it’s a pretty idyllic lifestyle.

3. International investors

This one fits more into the ‘returning trend’ category, seeing as international investment in the Australian real estate market over the past 18 months fell right away due to the pandemic.

But we’re already seeing interest from international investors returning, with the news of Australia’s international borders reopening.

Australian property has always been popular with investors from Asia, and over the next two years, I believe we will see a lot of Indian investors buy property here.

The other trend that will be one to keep a close eye on is the expat market.

Roughly 70 per cent of expats returning from overseas buy property when they return, and some rent initially and buy later.

With tens of thousands of Australians due to return home in the coming months, this will underpin the market going forward.

But along with returning expats, investor expats who haven’t returned to Australia will look to buy real estate here in 2022 and beyond.

There are a lot of Australians living in London, Dubai and Hong Kong that are affluent and want to buy property in their home country.

These investor expats usually plan to live in the property eventually, but for the time being, it’s an investment option for them. 

Moving into 2022, these are the main trends that will flow over from this year, albeit in slightly morphed fashions.

We will also continue to see price growth next year but not at the high rates of 2021.

Price growth of between 4 and 6 per cent is my tip. 

One thing is for sure, the real estate market in Australia is never dull, so watch this space!

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Matt Lahood

Matt Lahood is the CEO of Real Estate at The Agency Australia. Visit theagency.com.au