Buyers have always had preferences when considering where to call home. However, in the past buyers have often had to compromise in order to secure their dream property. When the global pandemic hit in early 2020 the housing market halted somewhat. Buyers and tenants alike were told they couldn’t move for several weeks. Some may have seen this apparent lack of movement in the market as a negative, however what this actually created was time for buyers to narrow down what it was they wanted, what they could afford and what they could realistically compromise on. This time during lockdown also shifted what buyers considered a priority. In the past this may have been proximity to a tube station and in a safe area, and yes, whilst those things still ring to be true there are other noticeable differences that have crept in. These include good views, a quiet home, outside space, room to work and amenities and crucially co-working or flexible working spaces in or around where they live. In the blog below we look at these changes in more detail. So sit back, take five, grab a coffee and take a look at how the property market is changing for buyers right now.
Beautiful views have always been on the agenda for buyers, however this has been accelerated dramatically during lockdown. After hours spent indoors, buyers are keen to have something beautiful to look at whilst they work from home, and someone else’s balcony just won’t cut anymore.
Whether it’s a London skyline, the vista of the Thames, a local park or landscaped garden, it’s more important than ever to have something aesthetically pleasing to stare at. Granted, this is harder in certain areas, however it’s good to remember that what one person finds attractive another person does not, meaning there should be that perfect view for everyone.
The lure of outside space is always an easy one. From escaping your day to day, to having a morning coffee on your balcony, growing herbs and plants or even having the space for a pet, outside space has a huge draw. During the first half of 2020, many people were stuck inside for 23 hours a day, only going out for their daily quota of exercise or to get the groceries. As the year progressed and the restrictions were lifted, people realised that if anything similar was to happen again, they needed some form of external space.
Before 2020, many Londoners would just accept that outdoor space of any kind was an expensive option when looking for a home. Often new build properties would not be built with balconies, and converted houses would also be exempt, this meant it was often just one of those compromises. However, with more time on their hands than ever, Londoners turned to gardening, growing herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables and more. From lettuce in balcony boxes to indoor plants having an even bigger boom than normal, there was no denying that getting green-fingered was the hobby du jour in early 2020. It’s not going away though, buyers are now looking for homes with balconies, roof gardens, communal gardens, patios and private gardens.
Even if it means paying that little bit extra, buyers are now focused on that little slice of outdoor space that they can craft as an allotment or simply to enjoy their morning coffee al fresco.
Room to Work
Working from home has become the new normal in 2020 with huge blue-chip companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook and big banks all announcing that their employees will be working from home until at least 2021. Central London offices are cutting down the amount of floors they have in skyscrapers, with a recent RICS survey finding that 93% of all respondents envisage scaling back their office footprint to some extent over the next two years.
As such buyers are now thinking about having that second room that they had previously never dreamed of. In certain areas, two-bedroom homes are not a huge jump price wise. This, coupled with the lack of spending during lockdown on things like commuting, mean that buyers are willing to spend that little bit more to ensure they get the space they need to work.
In Nine Elms this is being seen in levels that our Sales Manager Jon Johnson has never seen before. ‘The type of Nine Elms buyer has shifted somewhat during these last four months’ he comments ‘Previously Nine Elms would be home to a high percentage of overseas investors looking to make a second income or grow their property portfolio. Now we are seeing first time buyers with higher disposable income coming to the area for the first time.’
This second room is not only becoming a home working space, it’s also being used a yoga room, library, nursery or even a home cinema, allowing buyers to have flexibility and luxuries in the home that they never had before.
Peace and Quiet
London doesn’t often scream peace and quiet, a bustling city that runs for 24 hours at the weekend it can be hectic and busy.
Now, buyers are actively seeking out and requesting homes that face away from busy high streets and train stations. Our West Hampstead Sales Manager Varun Johal-Sharma comments ‘buyers in West Hampstead never used to worry if their bedroom or lounge faced the high-street whereas now buyers are keen to make sure that if they are working from home they are in a quiet environment away from street noise’.
Equally homes near parks and the river are also in higher demand. This is in part due to people wanting more green space as mentioned above, but also so they are around fewer buildings and the noise that comes with living in a built up area. Having that peace and quiet is invaluable when you are trying to concentrate on that company Zoom call.
A standard feature of new developments are first-class amenities. Even if it is a small development it will most likely feature a concierge and small gym.
These amenities have always had a lure to buyers, with the service charge recoverable on the quality of the gym, pool, sauna, steam room, cinema and spin studios that new developments offer. For example, our Royal Wharf development has facilities that would easily rival city gyms and offers personal training sessions, adult and child swimming lessons and a place to relax at the end of the day.
Interestingly, the newest type of facility on the block is the co-working spaces that are appearing more and more frequently. Developments like Sailmakers in Canary Wharf are proving incredibly popular, largely in part due to the air-conditioned business lounge with super-fast Wi-Fi and 24 hour access. David McCooke, our Canary Wharf Lettings Manager highlights that ‘There has been a surge in interest in properties at Sailmakers, not only does it have fully accessible ground floor apartments for those with disabilities but it has a state-of-the-art business lounge. Teamed with its location in Canary Wharf, Sailmakers offers people working from home more the perfect balance of home and work life.’
Even as people head into the offices later this year, working from home will still very much be in the forefront of people’s minds, and what could be better than not having to leave your development but feeling as though you are working in an office. For the summer months especially, the thought of a quiet, calming, air conditioned space to work from offers relief to most.
Of course it’s not just the co-working spaces that appeal to buyers when looking for new build homes. Being able to wander downstairs and be in the gym in under five minutes is a huge draw, especially in a city where people often commute for the gym.
If you’re a first time buyer or seasoned investor and you want an update on what this means for you and your property goals, then don’t be a stranger, get in touch with us today. We offer free valuations, in-person and virtual meetings.