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Shannon Molloy 11 Jul 2022

The overwhelming majority of Australian homebuyers want their next property to have environmentally sustainable features – and most are willing to pay a premium for them.

Results from the country’s largest property survey, which probes respondents on more than 350 questions about the home-buying and selling journey, has shown growing demand for green living.

The 2022 Property Seeker report by realestate.com.au found 81% of homebuyers consider sustainable features in a property to be critical or important in their decision-making.

And 87% of would-be buyers are willing to pay extra for a home with green features, from solar panels and battery storage to efficient insultation.

The average premium those buyers are willing to pay is 15%, the report found.

In terms of the items most in demand, 53% of buyers were interested in properties with solar energy or panels, while 49% wanted good insultation.

Among the other most popular sustainable features buyers are searching for are energy efficient appliances (37%), rainwater tanks (36%), double-glazed windows (36%), and greywater systems (21%).

Whether motivated by awareness about climate change or the rising cost of living, a shift towards greener homes has been underway for some time, according to buyer’s agent Lloyd Edge from Aus Property Professionals.

“I’ve seen clients prepared to pay a 5% to 10% premium on properties that have eco-friendly and sustainable features,” said Mr Edge, author of the book Buy Now: The Ultimate Guide to Owning and Investing in Property.

“The push towards sustainable housing isn’t necessarily across the board though, and it’s higher in certain locations, for example Brisbane and regional Queensland. 

“Due to the climate there, having sustainable and eco-friendly features will make your property more appealing to buyers.”

Mirroring the results of the Property Seeker Report, he said solar panels are the most popular feature among buyers.

“And if a building doesn’t come with solar panels already, they’ll request a quote from a builder on how much it would cost to install it – and this often comes before going ahead with a property.”

A report produced in conjunction with the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council found a wide gap between homebuyer demands and what the housing and construction sectors are able to provide.

“Australians talk about finding a home that is comfortable, is a healthy place for their family, and is affordable – all things that a sustainable home can deliver,” the report, titled Growing the Market for Sustainable Homes, said. 

“Meeting these aspirations can lead to demonstrated increases in property value. Research has confirmed, for example, that homes with solar panels and high environmental ratings now attract a price premium.

“Despite the benefits of sustainable homes, consumers are confused by the terminology and by the lack of useful information. 

“The disparity between consumer aspirations and product availability indicates a clear market failure, resulting in higher energy bills, poorer health outcomes and reduced quality of life.”

On the issue of sustainability more broadly, various studies show the majority of Aussies are concerned about climate change and support efforts to limit its impacts.

Described as being the most ambitious poll of its kind, the recent Climate Action Survey by Griffith University found 57% of people believe the country is already feeling the effects.

Three-in-four respondents reported feeling “fairly’ or “very” concerned about the changing climate, which is double the result of a similar survey conducted a decade ago.

“Almost a quarter of respondents believed that climate change was an ‘extremely serious’ problem right now, and 45% believed it would be by 2050,” lead author Associate Professor Sameer Deshpande said.

The results show that just 2% of the survey population were climate change deniers, while 5% were sceptics and 16% were unconvinced about climate change.

The overwhelming majority – 77% – were firm believers in the reality of climate change. 

“In terms of sample size, methodological rigour, multidisciplinary input and breadth of coverage, it was one of the most ambitious climate change surveys yet conducted in Australia,’’ Associate Professor Deshpande said.

Similarly, the Lowy Institute’s 2021 Climate Poll found 60% of Australians view climate change as a “serious and pressing problem”.

Three-quarters of respondents, or 74%, believe the benefits of taking action “will outweigh the costs”, it found. 

 

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