Coronavirus has changed everything – now, more than ever people are realising that you don’t have to live where you work. So where are the new property hotspots?
Many of us are working from home at the time of writing, and the way things are going, we may be for some time to come. Experts have been suggesting for years that it makes sense for more people to work at home – the cost of commuting, city congestion and the cost of office space means that it makes less and less sense to centralise workspaces – particularly since computer technology means that work information can now be exchanged easily. Conferencing via Zoom or Skype means that we don’t actually have to share office space with colleagues – perhaps a relief for managers who are trying to work out how they can squeeze their entire staff into an office building while maintaining social distancing.
If it does suit you to work at home – you have the technology, the space and the discipline – the property market suddenly becomes much more open to you. Maybe you no longer have to look for a small, expensive city apartment, you can consider a spacious, green suburban home. So, where are property buyers now likely to look?
Property & Home’s Martin Roberts says “A lot of us are thinking, ‘what are we doing living in the centre of a city when we could be living in the countryside?’”
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“One thing that the whole lockdown scenario has created in the property market is a massive demand for properties which have space around them. Space in a garden, space to have a home office, space to be able to walk the dogs and the kids to be able to play.
“What we are seeing is a huge increase in demand for properties with gardens. They are selling so much quicker and the prices are definitely higher.”
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“One of the things that lockdown has taught us is that there are opportunities to work from home and work remotely more than there have ever been. Suddenly the whole country is fair game. That has got to be brilliant!”
Links and borders
Searches for homes with gardens are up by 42 percent from buyers and 84 percent from renters year-on-year, with over a third of buyers and a
quarter of renters saying that they wanted a better home workspace. When you don’t have to plan for a daily commute, transportation links become less of a consideration – though you don’t want to be stuck completely cut off from civilization, maybe in a rural area with unreliable broadband.
“When it comes to getting more for your money outside big cities and towns, look at places on the periphery of the town you are interested in. For example, if you were thinking of moving to Salcombe but it’s out of your price range, it might be worth taking a look at Thurlestone or Kingsbridge nearby. Bath and Bristol could be a good choice due to the high speed rail links connecting these West Country havens to London in just an hour and a half.”Martin Roberts
Martin Roberts even suggests looking across the border in South Wales and Scotland, where breathtaking views of the Welsh valleys or the Scottish Highlands could surround you as you conduct video meetings from your home office. He says: “Cast your net far and wide, I think these are exciting times for investors and the opportunities are there for you if you can seek them out.”
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It’s true that pent-up demand after lockdown combined with the nine-month Stamp Duty holiday on the first £500,000 of any purchase have played their part in driving UK sales for the two months up to mid-September up by 58 percent on the same period last year.
According to estate agents, most demand has generally been through London’s commuter belt, and in some rural lifestyle relocation markets in the East and South East. Here, in September 2020 agreed sales were up 78 and 73 per cent respectively on the same eight-week period in the
Areas such as Guildford, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Henley-on-Thames and Esher have been the most active, largely driven by a desire to be near good schools, and the attractions of the beautiful countryside of the Surrey hills.
Estate agent Savills says that the typical buyer in this area is from south-west London or Islington, has 2.2 children and is spending £1.2-£1.95 million on a property.
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We may not all fall into that bracket, but there have also been surges of interest in Ipswich, Chichester, East Hertfordshire and East Cambridgeshire – all still within spitting distance of London if the need arises!
So has coronavirus really changed everything? Certainly now, more than ever people are realising that you don’t have to live where you work. So where are the new property hotspots in your area?
READ MORE IN THE WINTER 2020 ISSUE OF PROPERTY & HOME WITH MARTIN ROBERTS HERE.