How has COVID-19 impacted what homebuyers are looking for?

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the priorities of many UK homebuyers. Recent research shows the impact remote working and lockdowns have had on what people want from their homes.

As the pandemic has dramatically changed people’s day-to-day lives, it’s naturally impacted the UK housing market and what homebuyers are prioritising in their homes as well.

To provide insight on this, Market Financial Solutions commissioned an independent survey of 1,282 UK-based homebuyers and home owners. The survey was undertaken between 23 and 27 April 2021. Everyone surveyed either own a residential property in the UK or were in the process of buying one.

In the survey, 34% said COVID-19 has changed their perspective on what they want and need from their main residence. Additionally, 42% stated their views on where they wanted to live changed. And 46% were keen on a flat or house with more space.

Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, comments: “It is clearly a fascinating time for the property market. As MFS’s data shows, the wish list of UK property buyers and evolved considerably since 2019, with the pandemic playing a fundamental role in reshaping people’s priorities.

“We must now watch to see which trends continue and which are reversed as the Covid-inspired restrictions are peeled away.

What are the top homebuyer priorities in 2021?

A property’s garden or outdoor space is the top priority for homebuyers in 2021. This was previously the second most important priority in 2019. Square footage of the property is currently the second most important, which is down from the top spot.

Broadband and mobile connectivity is now the third most important factor when looking for a home. This is up five spots from 2019. In terms of location preferences, proximity to public spaces and parks is now more important than distance to the nearest city or down.

Garden or outdoor space

A property’s garden or outdoor space is the single most important factor for UK homebuyers. The survey by Market Financial Solutions revealed 92% said this was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when buying a property. This is a 3% increase from 2019. This is likely a result of the periods of lockdown restrictions since March 2020. Having outdoor space became increasingly valuable during this time.

Recently, a study by Conservatory Land revealed the average garden size in the UK is 130 square metres. The city with the smallest average garden space is Brighton with 23 square metres, while Poole is home to the largest with a whopping 490 square metres.

It’s likely not surprising that London ranked the second worst location for garden space, providing only 35 square metres on average. The London exodus has been taking place in recent years, but the pandemic has caused more people to move further away from the capital to purchase larger properties with more outdoor space.

Broadband and mobile connectivity

A property’s broadband and mobile connectivity is the third most important factor for buyers. In the homebuyer survey, 88% said it was ‘important’ or ‘very important’. This is up from 82% and jumped five spots since 2019.

As remote working became the norm for many professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, a good broadband connection has become even more important. And with remote and more flexible working arrangements on the cards for many professionals even after the pandemic, this will likely remain a top priority.

“Most notably, we can see how homebuyers’ priorities have changed as a result of the pandemic,” Paresh Rajasays.

“Outdoor space and broadband connectivity have become even more important to buyers, which makes perfect sense given people have been more confined to their homes, including for work. The trade-off has meant that transport links and proximity to urban areas have become far less important.”

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