New reports into the Australian housing market suggest that today’s homeowners need more housing diversity to meet with current and future needs. However, it seems that it’s harder to give today’s homeowners the range of choices that they’re looking for, particularly when it comes to smaller homes. Parties with vested interests throughout the country are now coming together to address the problem.
According to today’s think-tanks, housing in Australia simply hasn’t kept up with the changing needs of the community. Since the 1980s, cities have been responding to the environmental, social, and economic consequences of population growth with more compact urban cities. However, the new housing in Australia has often been dominated by freestanding apartment buildings and homes. Efforts to introduce a more diverse range of housing options have often been met with resistance from homeowners, and cities in Australia now have some of the lowest density levels and largest houses in the world.
However, now that lifestyles are changing, with greater workforce participation from both genders, and a wider range of commute times to consider, homeowners are beginning to need smaller, low-maintenance homes in middle and inner suburbs, complete with access to good public transportation systems.
Challenging Housing Diversity
Today’s real estate experts believe that housing stock that goes beyond multi-story apartments and large suburban homes will be able to give people the smaller, more affordable households that they need. Well-designed and compact houses in smaller environments are becoming 25% cheaper than detached homes in the same space or neighbourhood, for instance.
While the demand for this kind of housing is rising, there are challenges involved in providing what today’s homeowners need. For instance, existing owners in middle-level suburbs are worried that their neighbourhoods will lose their class and character. This makes it hard for councils to overcome the stiff opposition they face from existing homeowners when they attempt to develop new market stock. This kind of opposition could undermine even the growing requirement for high-rise apartments.
There are currently no powerful groups interested in advocating for a wider range of housing diversity. That’s because this market is largely dispersed across individual homeowners.
In the meantime, Oregon has emerged as the first state in the US to stop local governments from imposing residential single-family zoning on a space. This requires the governments to open up all neighborhoods to low-density housing options. The change in Oregon shows that it is possible to push housing diversity in any location.