The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on just about everyone in the UK, and the national lockdowns have undoubtedly changed the way we live during the past year, and possibly forever.
Homes Are Now Doubling Up As Workplaces
Arguably the single biggest change that has occurred almost overnight, is the number of office-based workers who now work from home full-time.
For a lot of smaller start-ups, especially in the tech industry, this has been the norm for some time already. However, prior to the pandemic, many large companies had started to take tentative steps towards remote working, with staff working perhaps one or two days a week from home.
This trend has now become a full blown shift to permanent remote working for a lot of people, with major companies in various industries, including banking, travel and technology all announcing that employees can work 100% remotely, even after the pandemic is over.
With homes now doubling up as workplaces, this has naturally had a big knock-on effect on the property market as buyers and renters seek out more space.
Properties With Gardens And Offices Have Seen A Huge Spike In Demand
The biggest effect of lockdowns on the property market has been a shift in what buyers and renters want from a property now and in future.
As more people are working remotely, houses and flats with office space have seen a big increase in demand, while property listings website Zoopla confirmed that the most-searched term on their website in 2020 was ‘garden’.
This strongly suggests that the lockdowns have increased people’s desire for some outdoor space, having been cooped up indoors for months. Add to that, the long-term closure of bars, pubs and restaurants over the past months, and homes have increasingly become dining and entertainment spaces for many people too.
The other big change in buyer’s behaviour is the increased interest in houses instead of flats. Again, the potential extra space for a desk or a garden has clearly played a part in the minds of buyers and renters, as they spend more time at home and seek out larger living spaces.
Rural Areas Are The New Property Hotspots
The desire for more space, coupled with the shift to full-time remote working has opened up new property hotspots around the UK, with people no longer needing to be so close to their workplace.
For example, some areas of Wales and North West England have seen property prices climb around 15% in the past 12 months, whereas London has seen a far more modest rise of around 2%, with some parts of the capital even seeing a fall in prices.
The most likely reason for this shift is the change to remote working for many people, and also the fact you’ll generally get more for your money if you move further away from London.
Socialising Has Changed Dramatically
With bars, restaurants and nightclubs being closed, there has been a significant cultural change when it comes to entertaining, with increasing numbers of people choosing to host events at home.
This has contributed towards the growing trend of buyers looking for extra space from their property, particularly outdoors.
As restrictions ease it will be interesting to see if this new way of socialising continues, or if there’s a flood of people heading back to bars and nightclubs en masse. One thing’s almost certain though, and that is the number of workers who’ll be spending five days a week in the office is very likely to drop significantly, meaning city centres are likely to be less busy than before.
Build To Rent Is a Fast Growing Trend
Another trend that has taken hold since lockdown is the rise of the ‘Build To Rent’ (BTR) sector of the property market.
While home ownership is still an important goal for many people, the UK’s rental sector has doubled in size in the past 20 years, with BTR seeing a big increase since lockdown started.
There are BTR projects around the UK, and some of these have been boosted by the sad decline of the retail sector as developers swoop in on vacant out-of-town shops for their latest all-in-one residential developments.
One of the things that is making build to rent developments so popular is the ability to have everything in one place, meaning renters are getting the benefits of city living, without having to be in a city centre.
For example, many developments come with co-working spaces, cinema rooms, on-site salons and bars, so tenants have everything on their doorstep without the need to commute.