What does your house say about you?
What does your house say about you? File

Did you buy a home or a statement?

WHAT DOES the house you buy say about you?

A Southern Cross University PhD candidate, Melanie Thomas, wants to know.

She has a theory that the breakdown of traditional society has led to a new breed of house hunter, which will have big implications for real estate agents and how they promote the properties on their books.

Ms Thomas, who is also a lecturer in the School of Business at SCU, has set up an online survey and is looking for people to help her by taking part in her research.

It's an interesting survey, causing participants to consider how they see themselves and would like to see themselves, and how they think others see them and how they would like others to see them.

This is in the interests of determining how the house they might choose to buy shapes their identity in their own and others' views.

"When we look at an advert or walk into a property, we can instantly write it off as not being what we want, despite holding all of our desired functional features," Ms Thomas said.

"This is because of the psychological or symbolic attributes we desire - those that allow us to tell the world 'This is where I live and who I am'."

Ms Thomas believes that changing consumer patterns have made housing choice more important, and not so dependent on major life events such as marriage, children and retirement, though such events still have an impact.

"I want to discover if we are making a major investment decision like buying a house for different reasons these days from the things that motivated people in the past," she said.

"Who we think we are, and whom we want others to think we are, are major motivators in our general shopping behaviour.

"Is it the same for housing? And do we always understand why we are making the choices we make?"

While studying for her honours degree (she gained first class) Ms Thomas studied Generation Y's expectations about housing, looking at whether their famed desire to receive instant gratification was borne out in how they might make a long-term decision about buying property.

It didn't.

Well, not entirely. Generation Y seemed to be considering the long term when it came to buying a house, but wanted first to enjoy the income, travel and other benefits of a rewarding career as well as living in a place that reflected their identity.

Property purchase, it seemed, was something for the future, when it might serve as a family home and not just a functional structure.

If you're in the market for a property and can help with Ms Thomas's research, go online to: surveymonkey.com/s/propertychoice

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