lockdown shifts what Britons want from their homes
Speedy Wifi and green space have climbed up the priority list for property buyers, as lockdown has shaken up what Britons want from their homes.
A new survey by Ipsos MORI, the pollster, found that 49pc of people said a fast, reliable internet connection and being near green spaces have become more important to their choice of home since the pandemic started.
The research, which was commissioned by housebuilder St Modwen, also found that 88pc of homeowners had access to a garden over lockdown, compared to 55pc of renters.
Lucy Pendleton of James Pendleton, the estate agents, said that many buyers are now desperate for gardens and terraces and are willing to pay a large premium for them.
“Last year the average London flat with a garden would sell for between £30,000 and £40,000 more than one without. This year the difference has almost doubled to £60,000,” she said. “For people who can’t afford a garden or terrace, the next best thing is living near a park or common.”
The number of prospective buyers searching for homes with a garden on the property website Rightmove is double last year’s level.
It found that on average, homes with south-facing gardens sell for 7pc more than those without, and are snapped up two days faster. The biggest garden premium is in Yorkshire and the Humber, where properties with outdoor space sell for 14pc more.
Rightmove’s Miles Shipside said the price premium would depend on the size and condition of the garden as well as the property’s location.
The top 10 search terms on Zoopla, another property website, included a garage, parking, a garden and even a swimming pool.
Being confined at home during lockdown has increased demand for indoor space as well as outdoor, said Andrew Perratt of Savills, the estate agency. “Family homes are now selling much faster than flats – which is a significant reversal – as people want more room, especially if they are working from home,” he added.
The most popular properties on Rightmove are now three-bedroom houses, whereas last year one-bedroom homes were more sought-after. Flats are no longer in the top five.
The Ipsos-Mori poll found that 50pc of homeowners had a private space to work in their property, compared to 32pc of renters. Ms Pendleton said homes with offices did not yet command a premium but she expected they would soon.
The hunt for larger properties and the move to remote working has led many buyers to expand their property search outside of the traditional commuter belt to areas where their money goes farther. Rightmove found the number of city dwellers contacting estate agents to buy a home in a village jumped by 126pc in June and July compared with the same period last year.
Previously, swapping city life for the rural idyll meant a poorer internet connection, although recently this has been improving.
Jonathan Hopper of Garrington Property Finders, a buying agent, said: “In the space of just a few months, the presence or not of ultra-fast broadband has become deal breaker number one for house hunters. For professional people who need to work from home regularly, fibre broadband is now seen as absolutely essential.”
Many buyers are now checking average internet speeds in prospective relocation spots before committing to a purchase.
Even pre-pandemic, slow broadband could knock a quarter off a home’s value, according to research by property website Strike. It found that house prices on streets with broadband speeds of under 1Mbps were 24pc lower on average than those on neighbouring roads.
Mr Shipside said the death of the daily commute meant highlighting fast internet and spare rooms that could be converted into workspaces was more important than ever.
“If there is a room currently set up as a small bedroom, sellers would do well to acquire some cheap office furniture so they can show people how their home office could look,” he said.