Has the rising cost of living affected what buyers are looking for in a property in Australia?

Australians love the idea of having a swimming pool in their backyard, and that still seems to be the quintessential Aussie dream, yet the rising cost of living might be steering property seekers towards a different trend. 

An analysis of popular terms that buyers searched for the most on realestate.com.au last year reveals an interesting change in preferences. While the desire for swimming pools remains unmatched, the keywords recording the largest increase in searches over the last year reflects a growing desire for dual living properties. 

More than 3.1 million Australians also live in a house with a swimming pool or spa. This is equivalent to one-in-seven Australians (14%) and up slightly from 13% in 2018

Following swimming pools, the next most sought-after feature is a garage. Its appeal lies in its versatility, having been transformed into home offices, gyms, or entertainment areas during the pandemic. The top ten search terms also include 'air conditioning,' 'ensuite,' and 'study,' indicating a long-term trend partly due to 37% of Australians working from home (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in a report released in December), a significant increase from pre-pandemic times.

The most popular property features buyers looked for in 2023



Swimming Pool 


Air Conditioning 


Outdoor Area 

Built In Robes 






Source: realestate.com.au | Searches over 12 months to December 2023 

The year’s keywords with the most significant growth in interest highlights a surge in the desire for dual living accommodations, with ‘dual living’, ‘granny flat’ and ‘duplex’ leading the search trends. Eleanor Creagh, a senior economist at PropTrack, attributes these trends to the pressures of rising living costs.

The property features that have skyrocketed in popularity




Dual Living


Granny Flat






Ground Floor


Water Views




Ocean View





Source: realestate.com.au | Searches over 12 months to December 2023

Metricon, Australia's leading home builder, reports a 25% growth in its dual occupancy segment over four years, with a recent spike in inquiries. This interest is particularly strong in inner urban areas, where larger lots and outdated homes present redevelopment opportunities.

Metricon's sales manager, Drew Glascott, notes a 230% increase in visits to their dual occupancy webpage, indicating a keen interest in exploring property development on existing land. Many opt to live in one unit while renting or selling the other, leveraging land equity for construction without significant upfront investment.

‘Granny Flat' recorded the second largest increase in searches on realestate.com.au, coinciding with changes in regulations, such as those in Western Australia, Victoria, and South Australia, which have made it easier to build

The WA government announced planning approval will no longer be required to build granny flats up to 70sqm, while in South Australia, reforms announced in November mean granny flats can now be rented to anyone rather than limited to immediate family members only.

In Victoria, a planning permit will no longer be needed to install a 'small second home', as long as it’s built on a property of at least 300 square metres with no flooding or environmental overlays.

Homeowners in NSW can also build a compliant granny flat on their property without the traditional council approval process.