Thinking of buying a house, selling a house or just interested in the property market in general? (Yup, us too!) Covid-19 has had a knock-on effect on every part of our lives and the property market is no exception. But while it put an initial pause on house viewings and sales there is emerging evidence of a boom in certain areas. And there is much talk about the impending exodus out of big cities.
So we asked Muddy property guru Fiona Penny – who founded Fiona Penny Bespoke Home Finders 12 years ago and knows both the property industry and this area of the country inside out – to tell us the top 5 trends in the market right now.
1. Re-assessing priorities
London and other British cities could see a mass exodus of home buyers after lockdown, according to new data from major property websites.
Searches on Rightmove by Londoners for homes outside the capital were up to 51 per cent compared to 42 per cent this time last year.
‘The pandemic has helped a lot of people really drill down to what they want,’ says Fiona Penny. ‘As a result they’re determined to take action on plans they had on the back burner – like finally making that move out of the city or moving grandparents closer to home and so on.’
2. Rural locations and home-working spaces
Properties with space to work and relax will be in greater demand, as will technology in the home-buying process. Recent research by Savills into the predicted impact of Covid-19 on real estate found that lockdown has highlighted the value of being able to work from home and people are wanting to keep this option open. (Shepherd’s hut in the garden as your work space, anyone?)
Fiona Penny says: ‘Employees have seen the advantages of remote working so demand for houses with bigger outdoor space and room for home offices will increase.’
3. Virtual viewings and property finders
During lockdown, potential buyers were unable to physically view properties, which led to an increase in virtual viewings, the Savills research also found.
‘As well as this, attitudes are changing in general,’ continues Fiona Penny. ‘Buyers don’t want to traipse around dozens and dozens of potential houses – especially now there are more safety restrictions on viewings. More than ever, buyers will want a short-list that’s been provided by an expert, with no duds or red-herrings in there.’
‘That’s where a home finder service comes in,’ explains Fiona. ‘Think of us as a property finding concierge service, where experts act solely for the buyer throughout every aspect of the whole buying and renting process. Having a property finding expert working on your behalf, showing you properties before they even hit the market and using all their local contacts is particularly valuable in our corner of England. We help clients moving down from London, moving from abroad or moving within the county.’
4. Community comes first
A survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed 68 per cent don’t want to lose the renewed sense of community that Covid-19 has brought out. And, tied in with the increased interest for rural properties, those houses that are also located in villages – which offer support networks and community-minded local amenities – look set to be in high demand.
‘In Kent and East Sussex we are lucky enough to be spoilt for choice when it comes to characterful villages full of clubs, societies, annual events and a strong sense of community,’ says Fiona Penny.
The closure of schools nationwide has brought a big focus on education – and good schools will be in demand as never before.
Areas with good schools will be popular – whether that’s state, grammar or independent – and Kent has got them all. And there are lots of virtual open days going on.
A good home finder service will be able to help on the school front too – using their local contacts and knowledge of important things, like school catchment areas. Fiona would always advise helping you find the right school before finding you the right home.