This Inquiry examined disruptive digital technologies, investigating their potential for reshaping housing markets and reconfiguring housing policy.
It provides housing policy makers and practitioners with a nuanced understanding of how technology is already restructuring housing markets and affecting housing assistance programs, as well as insights into likely future developments.
The research identified four main fields of technological advancement likely to disrupt the housing sector in the near term: matching markets; big data; GIS mapping software; and blockchain.
The research also examined the impact of Airbnb, the most prominent case of technological disruption in Australia’s housing market, to-date, in Sydney and Melbourne. The findings suggest that platforms like Airbnb are probably not significantly worsening rental affordability at the metropolitan scale, given that commercial Airbnb listings represent between 1–2 per cent of total rental stock in Sydney and Melbourne. However, these platforms seem to be having an impact on the availability of rental properties in high-demand inner city areas that have significant tourism appeal.
For policy makers, there is a need for more critical and agile policy setting and review processes. This is to ensure that negative impacts are mitigated early and the positive potential of such technologies is realised, both for the housing sector and society at large. In addition, while embracing the opportunities that technology offers is important, it is essential this does not occur to the detriment of adopting critical perspectives. Instead, policy makers need to be equipped to understand the nature and the potential impact of new digital technologies in a way that is both enthusiastic and critical.