Thankfully with lockdown restrictions now slowly being lifted most people are now able to get out of their homes and immediate surroundings. For many it won't have come soon enough having endured months of being cooped up, often in properties that have perhaps not proved ideal for such a long period of confinement.
The lockdown has indeed been a testing time for most and it is not surprising that people have been re-evaluating whether their existing home suits the way they want to live and what future lifestyle patterns are likely to dictate. In many cases existing homes have proved wanting.
Even before the virus hit many people had sought to move away from the hustle and bustle of larger towns and cities to more rural areas offering more space and a quieter way of life. Lockdown would appear to have increased this trend. Recent analysis by Rightmove, the UK's biggest property portal, has also seen a change in the most commonly used property search keywords with features like a garage, garden / land and an annex strengthening their positions at the top of the list, whilst the list of 'wants' that have seen a decline includes terms like cottage and period & character, terms relating more to the style of the property rather than the more practical aspects.
Rightmove's analysis also suggests a shift away from flats to houses, no doubt reflecting the greater difficulties flat owners have faced during lockdown particularly those without access to some outside space. It also reflects a desire for more space with searches for larger properties increasing at the expense of smaller ones. Certainly outdoor space, size & location appear to have more importance now.
Working from home features
Many of us have also got used to home working and have realised that it can work and contribute to a better work / life balance. So even though workplaces are beginning to open up again now, it is clear that working from home is going to be a feature of our new working 'normality' with benefits to both employees and employers. As a result, features like a home office space and also crucially good broadband speeds may now figure more highly in buyer's minds than for example, commuting distance.
What does this mean for sellers?
Previously features such as the kitchen often figured highly in terms of what buyers looked for first, however in the light of these changing times it is important to make sure that the outdoor space is not overlooked. As much care should therefore be given to ensuring the garden or yard is looking at its best. Sellers might also want to consider creating an office space where possible, for example putting a desk in a rarely used spare bedroom or perhaps in an alcove somewhere.
Lockdown has undoubtedly had a huge effect on many features of our lives, and will continue to do so, particularly what is likely to shape the property market of the future. Interesting times indeed.
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