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Living out of lockdown – How the pandemic has changed what home means.

Life has been changed by the pandemic in many ways. Not the least of these is the shift in perspective on what we see as being the right home. Whether you are a first-time buyer, a mortgage free couple looking to downsize and retire or anything in between, the property market is a different place. It would also seem that our view of what makes a perfect home has changed in many ways. 

 Better kept houses on the market 

Undoubtedly the biggest impact on our home life for many people has been how we use our living spaces. For months at a time, we found ourselves restricted to a series of rooms. Essentially we were permanently living in a place that we normally consider somewhere we would return to. This may have created an enforced over familiarity with these living spaces. Combined with having more time on our hands than usual it seemed to create a to a sort of national wave of DIY and decorating during lockdown. When the housing market opened up again this meant people were viewing houses where many of the little ‘fixer upper’ bits that were normally there had been already ‘fixed up’. This probably took a little hesitation out of some purchaser’s decisions and pushed sales through. Buyers with an approved mortgage were, and still are, being unusually quick to make a purchase. FOMO is seemingly a big factor. In fact, the biggest delay in moving during the pandemic was often the backlog of paperwork caused by the sheer volume of sales in the months following the periods of lockdown.  

 Moving out to the country 

In recent survey by the London Assembly looking at how Covid had changed the residents’ views on their housing situation, four out of 10 respondents said they wanted to move to a new home and 34% of these wanted to move out of the city. This seems to reflect the market in general with the population of most major cities falling. It would be naïve to point to a single reason for this seeming exodus from cities, but the pressure of living with lockdowns has certainly been big a factor. The temptation of green, open spaces, when you are confined to your house is a strong one. The population of our cities is rising again but during the pandemic 100s of thousands of people moved to greener pastures. 

 House prices and stamp duty created a perfect sales storm. 

The stamp duty holiday, the then (and continuing) favourable conditions for first time buyers and the pandemic all combined to create a never before seen market for house sales in 2021. To put some perspective on how big that change was, in Jan 2021 there were around 83,000 residential house sales in the UK. 6 months later in June 2021 that number soared to just under 190,000, more than doubling in less than 6 months. House prices rose an incredible 11% over the year and the stamp duty holiday released properties into the market at an incredible rate. This was always going to slow down, but to the surprise of many, it has not slowed by anywhere near as much as was expected. It would seem that the post-pandemic desire for a new home is still active in the market, and strong enough to maintain itself even with higher prices and the return of stamp duty. 

 The desk shaped elephant in the room. 

With all the talk of stamp duty, the desire to leave cities, and increasing house prices, it is easy to underestimate the impact one Covid related factor continues to have on the housing and mortgage market. In 2020, 37% of us worked from home. The majority of home workers are 30 – 49 year olds and likely to be home owners. The effect of this is that more potential buyers are looking for spaces that will accommodate a pleasant home working environment. Spare rooms, additional spaces, room to build extensions and out houses that are ripe for conversion, have all suddenly been elevated in importance. Hybrid working is now commonplace so working from home is going to continue to influence the buyers for the foreseeable future. 

 In the final analysis, there has clearly been a change in the way we all see our homes over the last few years. Whether consciously or not buyers and sellers have been affected by the pandemic in far reaching ways. As our needs change, the property will inevitably change with then. Mortgage companies are certainly responding to this new environment and there are currently a range of deals available wherever you are in the chain.  

 Call us and let’s discuss how we can help you make the most of the post pandemic housing landscape with a perfect mortgage deal. 

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