2020 and 2021 undoubtedly saw a large increase in enquiries and moves from urban areas to more rural ones. There were two kinds of people: Those who moved lock stock and barrel and those who bought a place in the country and retained either their home in the city or ever downsized in the city. So far, following the success of the inoculation program, we have not seen a return to the city, with many movers now settled into their new areas and successfully working from their new home office. Locations near transport have been key and as long as there is an excellent road or rail network nearby, there has been little limit to how far from the city they are prepared to go, perhaps restricted by time instead.
For example, at the time of writing we have a couple buying a beautiful mews house within stunning rural converted stables and surrounding lakes and lawns, forming part of a larger manor house, whilst they retain their home in London. They love the idea of being close to their children and grandchildren, only a few miles away, yet they can be at their London home within 45 minutes. Our mailing list has increased exponentially with buyers looking for the perfect family house away from the city and at some point this will slow down, but right now, all the evidence is for this market to continue.
Most of the properties that have been taken up by this migratory force have been the larger family homes. Families with younger children through to late teens. Great schools nearby have been important, although many of the children stayed at their school, as long as they are boarding or commutable. At below £500,000 the market has been pushed along by factors such as the stamp duty holiday but also the pent-up need to move over the last year caused by working from home, births, employment etc. In prices over £1,000,000 it tends to be houses with great gardens and a good home office that have the greatest appeal and as said before, close to transport, yet away from the busy roads.
Buyers remain interested in unmodernised properties that they can renovate to their own specification and design but also, especially properties that are presented fully completed.
Properties in the commuter belt remain hot targets for buyers with a shortage of good stock and buyers waiting to pounce. A great house will sell very well and within a short period of time. Buyers are there waiting. Buyers from the UK and from international hot spots such as Hong Kong are longing to find the perfect house and if it is priced at the market value and presented well though all the mediums available, this really is a great time to sell or let your house. With the new school year fast approaching, buyers have every reason to capture the market today. Not only will they potentially save £15,000 stamp duty, they will enjoy their new gardens throughout this probable staycation summer.
The effects on the property market due to Covid-19 have been clear; with the country on lockdown since the end of March there has certainly been less activity across the UK housing market. However, since the lockdown measures were lifted for estate agents last month, we have seen an increase in lettings activity and it’s clear that people are preparing themselves for life after lockdown – a massive boost for the lettings market and one we certainly all needed!
At UK SIR, we saw lettings enquiries increase by over 130% from April to May, echoing our predictions of pent up demand during the lockdown period which put almost everything property related on hold. This huge increase is partly due to the fall in demand we saw at the end of March, but this is an extremely positive change and a sign that demand for rental properties is growing much more than sales.
Despite this returning demand and rise in enquiries, while rents initially remained fairly steady, new reports suggest that achieved rent levels look likely to come down and we have already seen Landlords accepting lower offers to ensure they have a tenant and eliminate any vacancy period even if this means taking a lower rent. June through to September is typically the busiest period of the year for lettings agents but with travel restrictions still in place, we have seen hardly any corporate relocations since Q1 and the uncertainty for students surrounding their studying means the flurry of international students we normally see at this time of the year is down as well. With that said, people will always need a place to live and with the wider impact of Covid-19 on the sales market, we expect to see more would be buyers filling the void and opting to rent instead with lettings being a more stable option as the long term effects of this pandemic become more clear. For that reason I expect the lettings market to remain buoyant with more activity predicted over the following months.
Those who are looking are planning for every eventuality and the lock-down has put peoples living situations into perspective with many revaluating what they actually need and what’s most important to them. Many of the enquiries we are now seeing have requests for outside space and a home working space which shows the shift in people’s needs as working from home for many is likely to continue for some time. With the fear this could happen again at the back of many people’s minds, they want to know they are prepared for another lock-down and have the most comfortable home environment possible.
This is also evident through the increase in activity from our Country Office. The demand for country rental properties is still strong with many London families looking to either up sticks and relocate to more rural areas with good connections into London or to acquire a second home where they can all live more comfortably without feeling on top of each other in their smaller London residences which might have little to no outside space. With the “staycation” also expected to be more popular this summer with families opting to stay in the UK rather than take the risk of traveling abroad, we expect to see many people taking out short-term holiday lets with houses coming with pools and tennis courts being the most popular.
During the lockdown it was important that we did not become complacent and were there to support our clients throughout this difficult time. While the country was on lockdown we continued to advise and prepare our landlords for when the lockdown is lifted. This was a great opportunity for many of them to get their properties ready whether that be finishing off the renovations, tidying up the garden or as we saw for many – organising virtual reality tours of their homes. We wanted to ensure we were putting our clients in the best possible position to capitalise on the returning activity as soon as social distancing measures were lifted and it was thanks to this effort that meant we were ready come 13th May, with multiple offers already agreed.
Abbey Lodge is a uniquely historical house in a desirable location. The house has a rich history, and dates predominantly from the 15th and 16th centuries. Farthinghoe is a rural south Northamptonshire village close to the border of north Oxfordshire. The village has a primary school, The Fox public house/restaurant, repair garage and parish church. There is good communication with intercity train services from Bicester North to London Marylebone and access to the M40 at either J10 for the south or J11 for the north.
Enjoy your first view of this traditional country house set within 12 acres from the gravelled sweeping driveway, the solid wooden door giving access to the traditional hall with flagstone floors and high ceilings, step into a cosy TV room with comfy armchairs, cushions and colourful throws, the perfect space to lose yourself in a movie. Passing back through the dining hall a larger lounge warmed by the open fire, welcomes you with comfortable seating for all that come to stay. The indoor pool with heated pool and changing rooms is perfect whatever the season with by folding doors that open onto the gardens.
This luxury farmhouse is the perfect place from which to explore the rolling Cotswold countryside whilst still being close to the market towns of Witney, Woodstock and the City of Oxford. The farm has plenty of space with 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 3 reception rooms and a superb Johnny Grey designed kitchen. New Yatt is a small village situated 2 miles from the bustling market town of Witney. Woodstock and Blenheim Palace are 7 miles away and the “city of dreaming spires” Oxford 12 miles.
Presenting this modern two-bedroom, two-bathroom first floor lateral apartment with a large semi-open plan living room complete with a modern bespoke kitchen. The apartment is beautifully presented having been recently redecorated throughout and further benefits from access to a balcony from the living room. Turner House is perfectly located in the heart of Covent Garden and is moments from the Covent Garden Piazza benefiting from the plethora of shops, bars and restaurants the area has to offer.