Despite all the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and Covid 19, last year proved to be a stellar year as far as property transactions and prices were concerned. Boosted by pent up demand following the first lockdown and the announcement of the stamp duty holiday, buyers came out in their droves to upgrade, relocate or improve their homes.
And with all this activity, some ‘mini trends’ for properties emerged and the likelihood is that these are here to stay – certainly for the short to medium term.
So what makes the ideal property for 2021?
1. Connectivity – and by this I don’t mean transport links. These have gone DOWN the desirability stakes as more people are no longer commuting to work. Here I am referring to technological connectivity or WIFi! Anyone that has had to grabble with unreliable broadband whilst trying to work, whilst the kids are upstairs also accessing Google Classroom, Meets, YouTube and various websites for their home schooling whilst the husband / wife is also trying to do an online seminar or zoom workout will relate to the anguish and frustrations that this can cause. If you’re lucky enough to have fibre optic in your neighbourhood (and have also been able to hook up to it) then you’ll appreciate the value of good connectivity and whether your are a home owner or tenant, the speed and reliability of your internet connection has become critical to your quality of life.
2. Open Space – Never has a garden, back yard, rooftop terrace or even a balcony been more desirable than during lockdown. In 2020 as everyone was instructed to ‘stay at home’, the ability to stretch the legs, get some sun on your face, breathe some fresh air and smell the outdoors became vital for general sanity levels and well being. It’s not surprising then that high on the wish list of buyers is some private outdoor space which can provide a change of scene and a place to pursue a hobby or interest and maybe exercise.
3. Outdoor storage – The demand for bikes and watersports equipment went through the roof during 2020 as people turned away from public transport and whilst generally having more leisure time found a renewed appeal in slowing down and cycling and walking rather than dashing around in the car. With shops, entertainment facilities and leisure outlets closed, folks have had to create their own entertainment and so ‘big toys’ have become more popular than ever. But all this kit needs somewhere to live and so the knock on effect is the need for outdoor storage within a home environment. Couple this with what will undoubtedly be another year of the ‘Staycation’ the sale of tents, caravans and motorhomes is also likely to continue at healthy levels so the humble garage may actually be the jewel in the crown of homes that have them.
4. The end of Open Plan – Fashions and styles come and go and it’s fair to say that the open plan living trend has had a good run. But now that we’ve all removed every stud partition wall that we can without the house falling down, it seems that the concept of open plan living may have run its course. Whilst this makes for clean lines and wonderful feng shui, it doesn’t lend itself particularly well to juggling home working with home schooling and generally coping with all the residents in the house wanting to do their own thing at the same time. Personally, I do love the open plan look (I’ve never been good at closing doors anyway) but there are suggestions that this trend may be abating.
5. Flexible accommodation – With everyone spending more time at home all together, the ability of a house to morph from home cinema to classroom, to restaurant and to games room has also become more important. Growing families that may have previously been able to cope with siblings sharing bedrooms may have found that being together 24/7 has created more friction and fights so the requirement for everyone to have a little bit of privacy and a place they can call their own has been a salvation. Properties that have ample storage space, furniture that can multi purpose or be relocated and lighting that can be varied all helps toward a home ‘working’ better.
6. Death of the Dining Room – Yep, the dining room has been pretty redundant hasn’t it? With little opportunity to invite guests over or to entertain, that one room of the house that was generally reserved for calm, sophisticated evenings has barely had the door opened on it for the past year. If yours has, its probably to be turned into a makeshift office or classroom or somewhere to have that enormous lego project that you finally got around to do during lockdown. Seriously though, like the ‘front room’ that my Granny used to reserve only for Christmas, any reception rooms that have so far survived as just a dining room probably have their days numbered. Be it that it is converted into an extra bedroom, home office, play room or kids snug, to have an entire room that is never used seems a ridiculous waste of space.
78. Home Office – If you’ve spend the past year squished into the little space under the stairs for 8 hours a day trying to answer calls with the dog woofing at the front door and the kids watching CBBC a few feet away, you’ll appreciate the value of having a proper home office. And actually as employers are closing offices on a permanent basis and relocating their workforce to their respective homes, those responsible ones will be ensuring that the environment for their staff meets with health and safety requirements – so sufficient space to sit properly, adequate lighting and a reasonable level of comfort. Its difficult to achieve this with a laptop balanced on your legs whilst propped up in bed, so a dedicated space for work may become not only desirable but negotiable.
8. Green Places to go – For those homes where the garden itself is modest, this has been compensated for if there are great green spaces within easy reach. To maintain a healthy mind and body we are encouraged to take time out to spend in wide open spaces so the proximity to woodland, hillsides, beaches or large parkland has understandably become vitally important.
9. Coastal – Coastal properties have always been popular but the realisation that working from home can take place anywhere, many people have made a lifestyle choice to make their homes in the places that have good vibes. Be that treasured memories or just the feel good factor of breathing salty sea air, the desirability of properties near the sea has gone from strength to strength. Couple this with the investment element of having a home that can serve as a short term holiday let whilst British holidays remain all the rage and it’s easy to see why coastal properties have continued to surge in popularity.
10. Commutability – This is a bit of a cheat one because it’s not actually on the Top 10 list of desirables but worthy of mention since it has become less important than every before. Whilst values and attractiveness of homes have always been closely aligned with their proximity to transport links and the commuting time, with fewer people having to make the daily journey to our city centres for work, this factor has become less important.
So there you have it. Buy a property by the sea, with amazing wifi, masses of garden and outbuildings that offers great, flexible accommodation and you’ve nailed it. Just be prepared to fight off the competition!!