How has COVID changed home hunter habits?

At the time of writing this piece, we are approaching one year of the COVID 19 pandemic. This event has massively changed the fabric of society, and multiple lockdown has changed consumer habits enormously. If, like a lot of people, you have had to work from home then you may have noticed the lack of office space within your home – this may have made you reprioritise any extra space within a property. Many also may realise that because of the increase of working from home, being near your office is less important. 

Here are some of the major changes to buying habits, as we continue through lockdown and the vaccination process. These patterns may change in the future, but as you’ll see, they make sense inline with the current UK regulations in place today. 

Rural locations have replaced major towns as the ‘most searched for’ places for home-movers

Cornwall especially has become a hot spot for property searches. The county has overtaken London as the most searched for location on Rightmove (one of the UK’s most used property search websites). With over eight million people living in London, and only five hundred thousand in Cornwall, it’s clear that not everyone will find their dream house in the country. 

According to Rightmove – ‘There were more than five million searches on Rightmove in February 2021 as the number of home buyers looking for a dream home in Cornish towns and villages soared’

We can understand why people would want to move to Cornwall. It has extensive coastline, impressive beaches, and a multitude of green countryside to walk or relax in (with far fewer people than the UK capital). 

However, it’s not only Cornwall, with the county of Dorset (also in the South West) rising from position 20 to position 10 in Rightmove’s most searched for list. Also, Cornwall’s nearest neighbour, Devon, coming in third place after London. These trends show a general increase in those looking to move out of the city and into the country. 


More home buyers are looking to move away from country

Continuing from the previous point, in the last six months of 2020, Rightmove spotted some interesting changing of our habits. As well as people trying to move from the city to the country, the inverse could be happening as well.

One of the trends picked up on was a 69% rise in the number of home sales agreed in rural areas, compared to 49% in urban areas. People are looking to move closer to family, and this could mean moving closer to a city (or closer to a different town or village). Also, as we are all rethinking priorities, having a different lifestyle could draw people towards city living as well as away from it. 


The effect of more of us staying at home has made many of us rethink our living spaces, both inside and outside. The number of people looking for a garden has hit a record high; possibly due to the lockdown restrictions forcing outdoor green space to become more important than ever. 

In addition to the garden, you may want another room in your property for office space (or to work within, instead of going to an office). Homes with an ‘extra’ room, or office space have become much more important, and much more popular.  

Specifically, five-bed detached homes have seen the biggest growth in sales, in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic. Moreover, two-bed homes have become the most sought-after for people renting property, possibly indicating a one bed property, with a make shift office space. 


The renting market is adapting 

The cost of renting has varied dramatically over the last year through different locations. Working from home has meant that renters can be more flexible with where they live, not needing to commute (or commute as often). In some parts of London, for example, asking rents have dropped by more than 10 per cent in a year as less people need to commute to an office. 

However, thanks to the Coronavirus Act 2020, many renters have had a ‘rent holiday’. This is where renters have been given much more flexibility with paying their rent (due to the insecurity of the job market around COVID). This implies that many landlords won’t have been receiving full payments for their properties – something we are sure will adapt as we exit this crisis. 


So this is where the property market is currently sitting in terms of what renters/buyers want from their home – this list is likely to change, and in uncertain times the market may continue to be uncertain. If you are looking for more suggestions on making the most of a property, or guarding your property in times of uncertainty, then have a look at our other blog posts, or have a look at our Nick Fox books. 

Nick Fox started his property investment career 10 years ago and his portfolio has grown to one of the largest in the UK. Nick now mainly focuses on HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and works to help others achieve property success too. Visit here to find out how he can help you.

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