property market

What will the property market look like post lockdown?

While the property industry slowly restarts as the lockdown measures have been eased, there is a keen interest in how the Coronavirus outbreak and the #StayAtHome lockdown period has changed home buyers and sellers behaviour, and whether it’s just a phase or for the long term.

It is too early to tell with any certainty, but there are already some hints at a shift in buyers’ priorities, an obvious one being outdoor space and gardens becoming more important. We have scrutinised some of the latest research taken from leading property blogs and come up with our top picks for how we think the market will change post COVID-19.

Great outdoors

There has been a common acknowledgment that COVID-19 is indiscriminate, universally affecting everyone across the UK, including the restrictions on our lives to help combat the outbreak.

However, it’s fair to say that lockdown and the #StayAtHome experience is somewhat different for those with no outdoor space compared to those who have a garden or somewhere they can get some fresh air.

So, it is no surprise that one of the first indications that buyers priorities are changing was an announcement by Rightmove that searches for gardens had hit an all-time high for the year in April, only a few weeks into lockdown. This surge also represented a 26 per cent increase on the same week the previous year.

Further research from Rightmove showed that searches for balconies, gardens, terraces, sea views and swimming pools had all shot up during lockdown, time will tell whether this trend continues into something tangible, or if it was more a cathartic exercise from a claustrophobic general public.

Urban exodus

Even before the Coronavirus outbreak there was a growing trend of movers leaving London for quieter parts of the UK, some moving out to the countryside where they can still commute in for work, but also many moving away for good, with 13 per cent of Londoners leaving for northern England in 2019.

But new research from Rightmove indicates that similar trends are now appearing across some of the UK’s other major cities, including Edinburgh where 60 per cent of movers based in the city are now looking at properties outside the city, up from 53 per cent last year. A similar shift is happening in Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Bristol, signalling a potential urban migration.

The draw to smaller towns and the countryside prior to lockdown were mixed, with some movers indicating a healthier lifestyle as the main factor, others to get more for their money and for some concerns about crime could be a factor.

In a survey by Savills, 86 per cent of respondents expect to be working from home more after lockdown than they were before. Could this be another reason why there has been a jump in home movers considering living outside the city? Perhaps if going into the office isn’t a daily occurrence anymore, a longer commute on the odd occasion is more tolerable.

This could also see an expansion in the traditional ‘commuter zones’ encircling metropolitan areas according to this insight from Zoopla insight from Zoopla, with demand potentially rising in parts of the country not normally considered for people who work in the nearest city.

If you only have to commute once or twice a week, would you consider bumping up your commute to an hour and a half? This could make a big difference in your options for somewhere to live.

Let’s take a look at Leeds as an example.  

1. 45 minutes commute from Leeds city centre

This map shows everywhere within 45mins commute by public transport to Leeds city centre.

Leeds short commute

2. 90 minutes commute from Leeds city centre

Increasing this to a 90mins commute brings in options as far north as Darlington and all the way out to the Humber Estuary in the east.

Leeds long commute

Maps generated by traveltime.com

Home working

Only 1.7 million people mainly worked from home prior to lockdown the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported in March. That is only 5 per cent of the national work force compared to nearly reaching 50 per cent of the work force during April 2020, representing a huge increase.

The switch to working from home caught some unprepared, with home office equipment being one of the early retail surges at the start of lockdown, and as the UK workforce quickly adjusted, it became clear that not all of us are setup to work remotely.

Moving forward, this could be in the back of buyer’s minds when it comes to requirements for their new home. Properties with an office, spare bedroom or outbuilding could be sought after.

Broadband availability could also become a deciding factor, especially if there’s multiple household members regularly working from home. Although 96 per centof the UK now has access to fast broadband up to 30mbps, there are still some black spots, highlighted here in this Which? article.

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