Setting aside external factors like interest rates, supply and demand, it is families that drive residential property markets. Families constantly change over time and this drives demand for buying and selling and the shape of the rental market.

Todays the modern family takes on many different descriptions, there’s no single ‘neat’ way to describe modern families and this gives rise to a broad range of rapidly evolving demographics.

These trends then influence the market far more than other external factors. It’s a productive and informative subject to consider the modern family and how the emerging trends shape the today’s and future markets.

The ‘Typical’ Australian

Having highlighted the fluid nature of our topic the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has, taking the results from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, published characteristics that characterised the ‘typical’ Australian in 2016, so we’ll consider first what that reveals.

The first reality is that there’s nothing typical about Australians at all!However, the census did reveal the typical Australian as 38-year old female born in Australia, of English ancestry. She is married and lives in a couple-based family with two children and has completed Year 12. She lives in a house with three bedrooms and two motor vehicles.

The typical Australian male is 37-years old, a year younger than the typical female.In 2016, the typical Australian home was owned with a mortgage, but this differs across the country.

However, it is worth noting that in 2006, the typical Australian home was owned outright which is, no longer so,

In NSW, Victoria, and WA typically at least one parent was born overseas, and the typical migrant was born in England and is 44 years old. There are however some differences between the states – the typical migrant in QLD was born in New Zealand, while in Victoria it was India, and in NSW it’s China.

Trends Beyond ‘Typical’

Setting aside ‘typical’ I wanted to look deeper into some of the emerging trends associated with the make-up of modern families and how the changes will impact aspects of the housing market, including apartments.

There are a number of powerful forces driving the changes such as technology, urbanisation and economics which, is characterised by household size and composition.

Driven by these forces we see several major trends including the rise in single person households. This demographic is expected to be the fastest growing group driven by singles who are swapping relationships for career and education and the lure of cheap travel. The numbers of elderly singles are also expected to grow.

Singles also face an obvious economic challenge as they lack the combined earning capacity of a couple which, is an important factor in expensive cities.

Urban expansion is another big factor that will influence modern families alongside a boom in apartment developments in almost every major city. The trend will be further driven by a need for more affordable housing, shrinking urban land supply, pressure on infrastructure and an explosion in digital technology.

Further impact on the housing market as a result of more single person households means fewer children alongside an ageing population. However, a greater concentration of singles also means more demand for entertainment and population density helps to encourage mixed-use projects.

There’s also another trend and that is when singles share their living accommodation. These arrangements can include adult children living with parents, or an older parent or parents living with their adult children or an un-related group of adults using co-ownership to buy or rent.

The modern family is being impacted by technology at an unprecedented pace. This results in access to a wide range of on-line services like social media, banking, e-health and e-education altering interpersonal relationships and employment and household structures and size.

Taking all of these influences the numbers of families living in rented households is expected to overtake those with a mortgage while, couples with children are expected to remain the dominant household type.

Apartment living will have a range of impacts on the modern family including the ups and downs associated with higher density living, access to services, the physical size of apartments and the reality of the smart-home becoming a more mainstream trend over the next 15 years.

With apartments becoming far more common and with space at a premium smaller and smarter, technology linked appliances will be a big factor. The environment and the use of recycled materials will also have wider appeal as consumers look for developments that us sustainable and energy-wise design.

As we look to the future modern family households will exhibit large numbers of singles, big mortgages and a large rental market, continued urbanisation and big lifestyle shifts powered by digital technology.

Mixed in with all of the influences millennials will soon start to dominate the housing market. Millennials are aged roughly between 20-29 and 30-39 and they will soon represent the largest part of the housing market and creating the core of modern families.

Millennials are tending marry later, having children later if at all. Over the next 15 years this group will dominate the housing market.

They will have a tendency to smaller homes and be happy to embrace shared ownership and living options as they seek to live in the most popular and vibrant urban areas.

Key goals of the modern family will be convenience, affordability, mobility, technology driven and environmentally engaged.