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The pandemic has changed what buyers want, and developers are following suit

The pandemic has changed how and where people want to live, and what features they are now looking for in a house.

COVID-19 broke down supply chains, and delayed 60 per cent of building projects across 22 nations, according to a survey of 160 global developers, conducted by Knight Frank.

Of those delayed projects, over 40 per cent are now making changes to designs that were considered complete in a pre-COVID landscape.

Knight Frank’s Head of Residential Research Australia, Michelle Ciesielski said: “While it is still too early to confirm the lasting impact of the pandemic on the development landscape, it is clear that it has accelerated emerging trends and prompted new ideas for current and future developments”.

“While developers will likely temper their urge to radically reshape development designs initially, what cuts through the findings of the research is the importance of not overreacting to the immediate fallout
from the crisis.

“There is little evidence pointing to the need to design for future lockdowns or specified meterage for social distancing.”

Knight Frank’s survey shows consideration by developers of the following COVID-19 inspired changes:

Space for home offices: Three-quarters of developers are more likely to consider advanced telecommunications and space for home offices to allow for continued flexible home working.

Healthier and greener living: 38 per cent of developers are more likely to consider facilities for bicycles, compared to only 17 per cent that are more likely to consider parking space availability.

Urban appeal: Whilst 41 per cent of respondents said they would be looking to develop in a mix of locations, cities, second-home and rural areas, 45 per cent said they were more likely to solely focus on cities.

Mixed-use schemes: A third of developers are considering adjusting the mix of residential and commercial elements in schemes, from rentable desk space and individual pods to business suites.

Closer to home: Following a period of unprecedented restrictions on movement, two in five developers said they would be more likely to be sensitive to the requirements of the domestic market.

Virtual viewings: Almost two-thirds of respondents see sales geared towards virtual offerings from now on. This enables a more inclusive sales process with buyers able to have the architect or designers speak directly to them, via webinars for example, enabling more interaction with the developer and a better experience.

While these changes are vast, the constrained supply change and decreased funding means this new desired way of living will take a while to reveal itself.

“Considering 57 per cent of our global developers have delayed their projects, we could see fewer than forecast being completed and see an overall drop,” Knight Frank National Head of Residential, Shayne Harris said.

“In Sydney, completion of high-density schemes this year is forecast to be almost 60 per cent lower than delivery in 2019, which itself was six per cent below the 2018 level.

“Given supply continues to be constrained, this is likely to underpin pricing and potentially soften the headwinds on the horizon.”

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