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John McGrath says social change is shifting the way we use our homes

By Tim Neary
06 November 2017 | 9 minute read
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Affordability, the rising cost of living, our ageing population and increasing multiculturalism are driving a revolution in the way we use our homes, according to John McGrath, founder and executive director of McGrath Estate Agents.

“We are also seeing a strong trend in home owners seeking ways to make money from their homes, with Airbnb enabling a major new trend in principal places of residence being used for short-term letting,” the founder said in the McGrath Report 2018.

“Changes to state planning laws are also allowing more people to build granny flats alongside their homes to accommodate family members or rent out to tenants.”

Mr McGrath also said that multi-generational living is on the rise in Australia, as more extended families look to help each other, both financially and in terms of lifestyle.

The report said that in Sydney, the prevalence of people living in multi-gen homes has increased by 31.8 per cent in just 10 years.

“According to the latest census, 129,885 grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings were living with a core family unit of mum, dad and children, compared with 98,564 in 2006.

“In Melbourne, multi-gen living has increased by 37.7 per cent and in Brisbane by 39 per cent.”

Mr McGrath said that one of the most common scenarios is grandparents living with the core family unit.

He said that this is often due to their need for care or to help raise their grandkids to save on childcare costs.

“Families are also living together simply to pool funds, with a typical mortgage now requiring 39 per cent of household income to service compared with 25 per cent in 2001,” the founder added.

“As our population continues to age, we expect this trend to grow within our marketplace.”

The report also found that multiculturalism is playing a significant role in the rise of multi-gen living.

“Another common multi-gen scenario is 20-somethings remaining in the family home to save money for a place of their own,” Mr McGrath noted.

He said that this trend is being driven by housing affordability, with young people struggling to save the deposit for a first home and often needing “the bank of mum and dad” to make up for the difference.

“Within the property market, multi-gen living has resulted in greater demand for larger homes with teen retreats, self-contained in-law accommodation and granny flats in the backyard.”

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