Covid-19 has reshaped the UK housing market in a multitude of ways, from the unexpected hikes in house prices to the huge changes to the practical aspects of home ownership such as arranging viewings and getting a mortgage.
But the pandemic has done even more than that – it has managed to transform many prospective buyers' desires and expectations around their property searches. We've all heard about the shift towards larger homes and more rural locations – but what have potential home owners really been looking for this past year?
Analysing Google Search Data from the past year, experts at regulated property buyers, Good Move (opens in new tab) can reveal what potential buyers were searching for this year, and how this compares to 2019.
One of the most interesting findings is that it's apartments with balconies that have been searched for the most, not large homes in the country. It turns out that far from embracing rural life, UK home owners have been looking for increased amenities: balconies have gone up in popular by 149 per cent, apartments with hot tubs – 139 per cent, and houses with tennis courts and swimming pools – 127 and 109 per cent respectively.
These features may seem luxurious, but given that many people had no holiday in 2020 and were barely able to leave their homes, prospective home owners' desires come to seem fairly modest. The exaggerated portrayal of the post-Covid house mover looking for acres and a home cinema is just that, an exaggeration.
It's also intriguing that despite what we know about more expensive properties selling exceptionally well in 2020, this doesn't necessarily translate into the desire for a bigger property. When it comes to the type of houses for sale, the most popular searches with the biggest year on year growth were two-bed houses. Searches for ‘2-bedroom house for sale’ were up 64 per cent compared to this time last year, with ‘2-bed house for sale’ also racking up a 47 per cent increase in searches compared to 2019.
True to this year's many reports about the resurgence of regional property markets, the top five cities with the highest year on year search for ‘houses for sale in…’ compared to 2019 are all located in the north. They are Bradford (one of the most affordable property locations in the UK), Liverpool, Sunderland, Preston, and Newcastle.
However, where it comes to rural life, those who are serious about living it do still tend to look the South East. Apart from West Yorkshire, which has had a massive, 69-per-cent increase in interest, the top five counties where people have been looking for homes in are Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, and Surrey – no surprises here. Commenting on the research, Nima Ghasri, Director at Good Move says:
'Against all odds, this year has positively impacted the UK housing market and completely transformed the way buyers and sellers look at properties. More and more people are moving away from flats and apartments and into homes with outdoor space, and we’ve also seen many people looking to move away from cities into more rural areas.
'As we approach the New Year, we wanted to look back on the year in property search and reveal what potential buyers were actually looking for this year. It’s interesting to see that they have been searching for more luxurious features such as a swimming pool and tennis court, no doubt due to the increase of time spent at home and leisure facilities closing due to the pandemic. It’s also fascinating to see the areas where people are searching for properties the most, with South-East and Northern England the two hotspots.
'As we move into 2021, we look forward to seeing how the property market adapts to buyer’s needs.'