Over the past two years Covid restrictions and laws have governed how people have lived their lives. Calls to work from home have had a huge impact on the property market with many people moving further out in search of homes with larger gardens and space for a home office. While many restrictions are now a thing of the past, it seems that some of driving forces behind market trends will likely continue.
A return to work?
Member of The Guild of Property Professionals, Mike Storer, from Cooke & Co in Tyne and Wear, says: “The end of the restrictions will I am sure be welcomed up and down the country and the notion of being able to return to the workplace will undoubtedly be beneficial to many, although there are those who may have found such working practice to be preferable and potentially some businesses may well have benefited from a change in their structure. Of course, every industry and within those the very individuals who work in them will be affected in different ways.”
Fellow Guild Member, Andrew Davies, Director at Newquay Property Centre, agrees saying: “My thoughts are that we are seeing a change in companies’ attitude, whereby if they can successfully have their employees adopt a home/work balance and proves productive, then the overheads I guess vastly reduce in having commercial office space. Having done a round of viewings this week, 70% of enquiries were out of county and of the 12 individuals that I did view with, 8 were in fact being deployed to work wherever they chose in the UK. Cornwall is high on the list of places it would seem.”
Holidays are happening
Malcolm Prescott from Webbers in Devon adds: “With restrictions lifted, I believe that in general people, buyers and sellers will feel ‘lighter’ and perhaps dare I say have more energy to make a move as their sentiment changes to a more positive mind-set – at last people will have a holiday to look forward to and all of those important things we all have in our lives to make it all worthwhile! So yes, I believe that property market will benefit from the lifting of restrictions as we will all feel that much better! In general terms those staple, firm reasons to buy will still be at the fore of buyers minds though. Location will still be number one for many buyers, fast broadband will be essential with more people working from home and alongside the tech of course more space both inside and out will be at the top of the list – but really this is not a huge shift from where we were pre-pandemic, perhaps a few more people working from home and a greater awareness of tech support but other than that location still wins the day.”
The race for space
Regardless of whether restrictions are in place or not, it seems that legacy of the pandemic will continue to be the trend of people looking for homes that provide lifestyle offering as well as more space. Jim Stillwell, Branch Director of Keats in Haslemere, says: “Houses with good outside space and those with outbuildings in the gardens are in high demand. Despite the pandemic, the market in Haslemere has been strong with clients looking to get away from big cities. Haslemere’s attraction is a long term one regardless of restrictions because of the availability of our main line railway link to London Waterloo in under an hour. This is very attractive for those having to return to the office but can still take advantage of working from home when and if required.”
Davies says that in Cornwall they have experienced a huge influx of people wanting to vacate cities. “Again, this is due to the ability for people to work remotely, needing only high-speed broadband to go about their work. This has allowed many to be more flexible with where they choose to live,” he adds. John Newhouse from Roseberry Newhouse in North Yorkshire and Teesside, says that they have seen a seen a big increase in buyers moving from around the country to be near family and more importantly get better value for money with both inside and garden space.
According to Prescott, the pandemic had allowed many homeowners the time to really think hard about what is important to them – more space, bigger garden, a sea view, closer to facilities and the like, these considerations were really brought into focus more than ever before, as we were all forming new habits in the new ‘lock-down world’ we have been living in!
Storer adds that while there are lots of new housing group properties up in the Tyneside area, there is still a massive demand for family orientated properties with extra internal space and gardens, as well as those with either direct sea views or ease of access to the seafront. Apart from lifestyle offering and space, proximity to excellent schools and green spaces are elements that are driving buying decisions. According to Colin Darbyshire from John Bray in Hastings, while rental properties would be weighed towards commuting and train stations, buyers are placing more emphasis on the schools and green spaces that are located in the area.
While the introduction of restrictions and lockdowns may have been a catalyst change over the past two years, it seems that certain influences and lifestyle changes will continue to impact buying patterns as we head into a new era.