29 June 2011 – While Australians still want to own their own home and block they will settle for units or townhouses and are more resigned to renting, according to recent studies from research company, Ipsos and  the Grattan Institute.

The Being Australian study by the Ipsos Mackay Report affects  urban planning because it contradicts the assumption that Australians want large houses on individual blocks on new estates

The Ipsos study, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, based on interviews with more than 100 participants in 15 focus groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and Ballarat found people are ”redefining the dream to overcome the housing affordability issue”.

According to Australian Property Monitors and Domain median prices around Australia are currently:

  • Sydney: house, $643,713, units, $448,585.
  • Melbourne:house,$574 850, units, $409 000
  • Adelaide, house $505 000,  units, $399 000
  • Newcastle, house, $510 000, units, $387 000
  • Ballarat, house, $297 000, units $197 000

One respondent in the study is reported as saying: ”The white picket fence thing, I don’t think that’s really important any more. Like, a home in the suburbs with your three kids and a dog.”

The sentiment challenges the political orthodoxy, popularised in the late 1980s by a famous Liberal Party manifesto, Future Directions, that featured on its cover a nuclear family standing in front of a house with a picket fence.

It also fits with an analysis by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year that forecasts single-person households will increase to 3.1 million, or 30 per cent, of all households by 2026.

Others in the survey said skyrocketing house prices had forced them to ”accept that I’m going to be renting all of my life, unless I make a whole lot of money”

See The Sydney Morning Herald report

This study affirms another report by the Grattan Institute which found people were willing to tailor their housing aspirations to their budget.

This study The Housing We’d Choose examined the housing preferences of more than 700 Sydney and Melbourne residents.

Cities Program Director at the institute Jane-Frances Kelly said it was found that once people took into account current housing costs and their income, they chose a far wider range of housing types than the stereotype of all Australians wanting a detached home on a large block would suggest.

“However we’re just not building the variety of housing that Australians say they want”, Ms Kelly said.

She pointed to shortages (compared to what we say we want) of semi-detached homes and apartments in the middle and outer areas of both Melbourne and Sydney.

The report argues that there are barriers to delivering more of the housing people say they want. These include the cost of materials and labour for buildings over four storeys, land assembly and preparation, and the risk and uncertainty of our planning systems.

“Building enough of the right housing is not only vital to meet the range of choices individuals would like to make, but also for the way in which our cities will grow,” she said.

See full report