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The journey towards homeownership is a significant emotional investment for all those involved. It doesn’t start and end with buying a home – it starts much earlier with a savings journey, and for many people the journey continues for up to 30 years, paying off a mortgage and potentially buying and selling different properties along the way.

To help chart the home ownership journey and explore how Australians feel throughout the experience, we have developed the Great Southern Bank No Place Like Home research report. This multi-part report will examine the confidence of buyers, how happy they are with their saving and homebuying decisions, and what they expect from their next step on the journey.

As part of our research, we also developed the Happily Clever After Sentiment Tracker. It shares valuable insights about how people are feeling when it comes to home ownership: from how happy people are in their existing home, to real concerns about the future.

To kick things off, this first phase will uncover and examine people’s level of happiness with their living situation. This includes how people feel about current and future economic conditions, what home means to them, and what the homeownership journey can look like.

More information about the report

A word from our Chief Customer Officer

Helping Australians own their own home is something we are passionate about at Great Southern Bank and it drives everything we do.

We know the aspiration of home ownership remains alive in Australia.

However, does home ownership actually help people find their "Happily clever after"?

To answer that, I’m pleased to present our first Great Southern Bank No Place Like Home report, the first in a three-part series containing insights from almost 2,000 Australians.

What this report illustrates is the strong link between home ownership and happiness- in fact seven out of 10 Australians say home ownership is important to their overall happiness. Just 5 per cent - or one in 20 - say it is not at all important. And perhaps not surprisingly, happiness with our home increases as we get older, and as we move towards becoming mortgage-free.

Our Home Happiness Sentiment Tracker also shows that homeowners are significantly happier than renters.

Read more from Megan

This tells us our purpose is absolutely right – buying a home doesn’t just contribute to long-term financial security, it contributes to emotional security too.

Of course, we acknowledge that the home ownership journey can be difficult and one of the biggest challenges faced by first homebuyers is saving a deposit. That’s never been more relevant than today, with our report finding three quarters of Australians are concerned about the cost of living and two thirds are worried about housing affordability.

As a customer-owned bank we are helping Australians to get off the rental treadmill with a variety of alternate pathways to home ownership – whether that is through the Australian Government’s Home Guarantee Scheme, our support of shared equity initiatives like National Affordable Housing's BuyAssist program, state-based first homebuyer grants or innovative savings tools like The Vault or The Boost.

We recognise not everyone is on a pathway to home ownership and we want to help them too. That’s why we support initiatives that will reduce the cost of living for community housing tenants, with a commitment of $1 million to Mission Australia for energy and water efficiency upgrades to properties over the next three years.

This report shows that many Australians remain optimistic about home ownership, and sheds light on what ‘home’ really means to Australians. I hope you find the insights relevant and inspiring.

Megan Keleher,
Chief Customer Officer, Great Southern Bank

Happiness with our homes

How people feel about their home differs from person to person and is shaped by a variety of factors. For some, having long-term security in a home is essential for happiness. For others, it’s the style and character of the house or apartment that really brings joy to those who live there.

Our Home Happiness Sentiment Tracker shows homeowners are happier with their current housing situation than renters. On a scale of 0 (completely unhappy) to 10 (completely happy), the tracker shows an average happiness score of 7.1 for homeowners, compared to 6.4 for renters. We also asked people to rate their happiness across individual features of their home, such as location, internal space and housing security.

Read our media release to learn more.

At Great Southern Bank, we pride ourselves on helping all Australians find happiness through owning their own home - no matter what that looks like for them.

Homeowners = 7.1

  • With a home loan = 7.0
  • No loan (own outright) = 7.4

Renters = 6.4

  • Long-term renters (10+ years renting) = 6.1
  • Social & government housing tenants = 6.6
Home Happiness Sentiment Tracker

Financial freedom for homeowners

Cost of living pressures are impacting Australians across all forms of housing, from private rental properties, to those in community and government housing, and homeowners. Our research found long-term renters are much more likely to be feeling burdened by their financial commitments than homeowners, potentially because of high rental costs. Limited availability of suitable rental accommodation and higher living expenses are likely to be contributing to this pressure. Long-term renters are also more concerned about the cost of living (84%) and housing affordability (80%) compared to those who have already purchased their own home (73% and 62%).

At Great Southern Bank, we are looking for ways to support all Australians, whatever their living situation. For those aspiring to break out of the rental cycle and become homeowners, step one is saving for deposit. However, we also recognise not all renters are planning to buy a home, including those in community housing who are similarly facing higher living costs than ever before. That’s why we have partnered with Mission Australia to cut utility bills and reduce emissions by installing water and energy efficiency upgrades to benefit community housing tenants.

Case study: Nicole Shillinglaw, QLD

“I’m no longer constantly worried about lease renewals in the current market.”

Nicole Shillinglaw purchased her 3-bedroom townhouse in Slacks Creek on the southside of Brisbane with the help of Great Southern Bank and the Federal Government’s First Home Guarantee.

Following a stint in Melbourne to kickstart her career, Nicole moved back to Brisbane to be closer to family. An avid book reader, Nicole was determined to find a place that would fit her 450+ collection of books as well as fulfil her renovation dreams.

"I’ve always loved watching renovation shows so I wanted to make sure I bought something that I could put my personal stamp on," said Nicole, a business continuity coordinator.

"It is very hard to save for a 20 per cent deposit on your own. The Guarantee meant that I could get into my own home on my own two feet without asking my parents for assistance. It also means I am no longer constantly worried about lease renewals in the current market."

Nicole said owning a home gives her peace of mind that her future financial security is safe.

"Don’t wait for the perfect time and don’t wait for the perfect property. As long as you can afford the mortgage and have some spare money for improvements, you’ll never regret taking the leap," she said.

Economic conditions and home buying aspirations

We know everyone’s homeownership journey and personal experience is different.

Despite the cost-of-living crunch, our research showed there is still plenty of optimism among Australians wanting to buy a home. Almost one in two Australians are planning to buy a home to live in within the next three years with:

  • 6% planning to buy within 6 months;
  • 9% planning to buy in the next 6-12 months; and
  • 31% planning to buy in 1-3 years.

While the economic climate and financial concerns can make the housing market challenging to navigate, 29% of renters and 18% of long-term renters remain confident they can achieve their home ownership goals. In fact, one in two renters (53%) are hopeful of buying a home to live in within the next three years.

Younger Australians are the most optimistic, with 61% of Gen Z* planning to buy a home to live in within three years. Gen Z were also less concerned about the cost of living, housing affordability and interest rates than their Millennial and Gen-X* peers.

A small proportion - one in 10 - who had planned to buy are now holding off due to concerns over rising property prices (60%), the cost of living (60%) or rising interest rates (45%).

Great Southern Bank offers a range of different support to help buyers purchase their ideal home, whether you are still on the saving journey or ready to look for a home loan.

* Generation Z were born 1995-2009; Millennials were born 1980-1994; Generation X were born 1965-1979; Baby Boomers were born 1946-1964.

The home ownership journey

This research confirms that the aspiration to own a home remains alive for Australians. It’s important to remember it is not just first homebuyers who are looking to purchase a home in the coming three years - 42% of existing homeowners are also thinking about their next home, whether that is upsizing, downsizing or just making a lifestyle change.

Wherever they are on the journey, there are some steps all buyers must take to purchase their home, such as saving for a deposit. And for the 53% of renters who want to take those first steps on the home ownership journey, the path can bring twists and turns. It’s important that we equip prospective homeowners with the knowledge to make informed decisions about buying their future home.

We have a range of articles with tips and advice to help our customers understand all things homeownership - from the homebuying process to understanding the difference between fixed and variable rates.

Case study: Andrew & Zac Cornell, VIC

“Home ownership means independence and freedom.”

Twin brothers Andrew and Zac Cornell were amongst the first homebuyers to take advantage of expanded eligibility criteria under the Australian Government’s Home Guarantee Scheme to realise their aspirations of home ownership. The 22-year-old pair, who both work in logistics, obtained a loan through Great Southern Bank to purchase a three-bedroom townhouse in Wollert in Melbourne’s north.

Previously only available to couples or single applicants, access to the First Home Guarantee and the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee was extended to include siblings, friends, and family members to make joint applications from 1 July 2023.

"When we turned 20, we opened a joint savings account and had a strict savings plan. We were saving seriously for three years to make this happen," Andrew said.

"It was all about discipline. Once we started putting away a set amount each month, it’s surprising how easy it was to save."

As twins often do, Andrew and Zac share similar thoughts on what homeownership means to them - that’s independence and freedom.

"Owning our own home means stepping into the next part of our life and taking on more responsibilities," Zac said.

What home really means

For many people, home is where the heart is. A house - or a home - is about much more than bricks and mortar so through our research, we explored what home really means to Australians. Most people in our research consider home their happy place (81%), while others think of home as wherever their family or loved ones are (72%). Some simply consider today’s home as a stepping stone to better things in the future (63%). And for others it is about having a place to celebrate their culture or traditions (54%).

We understand that buying a home or securing a stable, affordable place to live can be an emotional journey. As a customer-owned bank, we understand the financial and non-financial investment of these life-changing decisions and are here to support customers, wherever they are on their housing journey.

Home ownership and happiness

While it may seem like an uphill climb, the result of buying your own home to live in does appear to be worth it for most people, based on the findings of our report. Homeowners who have paid off their mortgage and own their property outright are the happiest group when it comes to their living situation (57% very happy). Almost half (45%) of those homeowners with a mortgage are very happy. Long-term renters are the least happy with their current living situation (29%).

Happiness with our housing also improves with age, as people move through their housing journey to find the right home:

  • 40% of Gen Z and millennials are very happy with their living situation;
  • This increases to 42% for Gen X;
  • And reaches 57% for Baby Boomers.

For more information

Read our media release.

For inquiries, interview requests or for permission to cite the research, please contact:

Laurel Lee Blain
Senior Manager, External Communications
Michael O’Toole
Manager, Corporate Communications
Important Information

The Great Southern Bank No Place Like Home Report is a 3-part series, with online surveys to be conducted in three waves across the year. The research was conducted by The Clever Stuff , in partnership with Pure Profile , surveying 1,991 Australians aged 18-65 who are nationally representative of the Australian population by age, gender and location. The survey was conducted from 28 July to 2 August 2023.