Events of 2020 have changed people’s outlook on lots of things and our priorities for choosing a home and where to live are no exception. Space to work from home, a private garden and a sense of community are suddenly much more important. Here’s why.
Life after lockdown
Research by Redrow revealed that private outdoor space, bigger kitchens, and excellent energy efficiency are now the most sought-after amenities for those considering their next home.
And when it comes to where that next home will be, proximity to green open space is now the most important community feature, followed by smaller shops, and a doctor’s surgery.
James Holmear, group sales director at Redrow, said: “Lockdown has changed our lives dramatically. More time spent in the home has made us reconsider how we use the space that we have, and how our homes can adapt to more permanent change in the future. Even as more offices re-open, many people will opt to work at home, and people are planning to replace public transport with greener modes of travel when they do commute.
“This change has translated to huge shifts in buyer preferences on the ground. Now, we are experiencing more customers adapt their search to homes with extra space to work, and more people are looking for proximity to green space and local shops, over good schools, and cafes and restaurants.”
Similar feedback was received in a survey by estate agent Savills, which found that gardens and outdoor space are now more important, especially among the under 40s. The next big priorities were wireless internet and a separate space to work from home.
And the property portal Rightmove reports that more people are looking to move out of the city in search of a better quality of life with more outdoor space.
A home office each
Due to move into a four-bedroom detached Oxford at Cranberry Gardens, in Congleton, Cheshire, next month, Laura and Peter Harrison chose their brand new Redrow home, just before lockdown struck - but say they are even more glad now about both their property choice and the location.
Laura explains: “The biggest positive about the Oxford is its size inside; four bedrooms means we will each have a home office, which has turned out to be essential for Pete this year — it looks like he’s going to be working from home until next year too!
“The proximity to Congleton town is perfect too, it’s walking distance, and it means we can help support local businesses - we’ve been popping up at weekends to nosey at the house, and then walked into town to buy lunch and snacks, etc.
“Having a garden is definitely a massive plus point, especially since holidays are more difficult at the moment! I’d hate to have no garden in the event of another lockdown.”
5 things on what to consider when buying a house
· How much can I afford?
If you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage you’ll probably have a good idea of your budget. Alternatively you can use an online calculator to see how much you could borrow based on your deposit amount and your monthly income and outgoings.
· Where do I want to live?
Work out what’s most important to you, eg. urban or rural, close to your workplace, near to a train station, etc and use that to dictate your search criteria.
· What’s in the neighbourhood?
Once you have identified potential areas you should look more closely at each neighbourhood to help you narrow down to a shortlist. Decide what’s a deal-breaker and what would be nice, but not essential. Property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove have search tools that can identify local schools, shops, parks and amenities.
· New or second-hand?
If money is tight, it might be tempting to choose a ‘doer upper’ but do take time to consider whether a brand new home might actually be more cost effective in the long-run. Redrow has calculated that it can cost as much as £50,000 to bring an old four-bedroom house up to the same standard as a brand new home. This takes into account items including a new roof, doors, windows, boiler and central heating system, as well as decorating throughout. And don’t forget to factor in the time, energy and stress involved in a major renovation.
· What do I want from my home?
a note of everything that you consider important in the home you plan to buy,
from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, to high-speed broadband and whether
it has a private garden and off-street parking. Then go back through your list
and identify those areas where you are willing to compromise and those which