We’ve written recently about how pleased we were to report that the UK housing market has reopened for business, albeit with strict social distancing rules still in place.

So as we move towards midsummer, we’re sure we’re going to be busy helping people move house, as they go ahead with renting, buying, selling or letting out their property. Many were browsing and planning during lockdown, and now they can put those plans into action.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has been too massive not to have shifted the world a little on its axis – equally, no one would claim the crisis is anywhere near over just yet.

And while we’re confident most buyers are likely to pick up their moving plans pretty much where they left off pre-corona, priorities may well have changed over the long weeks of lockdown.

After all, people have certainly had more time to think very carefully about they really want from their next home.

Setting sights outside city limits

A significant number could be turning their focus away from city dwelling to enjoying a better quality of life in smaller towns or suburbs, where having a garden becomes a real option and not just a dream.

One online property portal, for example, reports a marked rise in numbers browsing properties away from the city where they currently live.

This increase is most marked in London, where more than half (52%) of property browsers are now house-hunting away from the capital. (This time in 2019, that figure was 42%.) That’s perhaps unsurprising when you think that London, Brighton and Bournemouth are among the UK areas where properties are least likely to have a garden.

Clearly, as we’ve enjoyed some glorious spring and early summer weather and lockdown has forced us all to spend more time at home, the prospect of having a garden has become more enticing than ever.

Equally, those who have been working from home may well now be wondering whether they can continue to do so for a few days a week, allowing them to consider moving to places they may not have previously thought possible.

And with remote working on the rise, having space from which to work has become a more critical consideration.

Size does matter

A new survey conducted by an online estate agency asked prospective buyers if the lockdown had shifted their property priorities, and found that:

  • Nearly three quarters (71%) of under-40s who responded said having outdoor space such as a garden had become a bigger priority
  • More than a third (39%) of under-50s reported that they’d now want to hunt for a larger home
  • Nearly one in five (17%) said they’d widened the area in which they were looking for their next home

Interestingly, other priorities thrown up the same survey included good Wi-Fi access and a separate area for working from home.

Tenants also want gardens

Renters are also keen to spend the longer, lighter evenings outdoors. Tenant searches for gardens are, according to one property portal, the highest they’ve been this year, and they’ve almost doubled since lockdown began.

That’s hardly surprising given the limitations of living in a flat with no access to a garden or balcony when the government-mandated single daily exercise session offered the only chance of getting outdoors. Many in that situation will no doubt be looking for something different from their next move.

Additionally, rental homes in larger cities don’t often have gardens, so it’s understandable that many may be rethinking their location.

Rental searches for homes with gardens are reportedly 16% greater than the January and February averages, while also being more than a quarter (26%) up on this time in 2019.

How we can help

At Oakfield Estate Agents, we’re raring to go as restrictions ease and we move into what is traditionally the busiest time of year for moving house. We’re here to help whatever your property needs, and will make the whole process as quick and hassle-free as physically possible.

Chief executive of Oakfield Neil Newstead said: “We operate across East Sussex, covering Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne, and we have many properties with gardens to buy or rent on our books.

We appreciate that, after the lockdown and period of enforced confinement, many who are looking to move may now be reassessing their priorities. And we’re looking forward to matching up landlords and tenants and buyers and sellers as we get into the summer, and to helping people find their dream home.

Especially if you can work from home some of the time, commuting to London from our part of the world is definitely possible. So talk to us if you’re looking to move out of the capital and improve your quality of life.

Equally, if you have a property with its own garden and are looking to sell or rent it out, you could be in for a speedy and potentially rewarding transaction – we’re anticipating strong demand this summer.”

Talk to us today, or browse the properties on our site. Check out our handy online valuation tool, too. While our offices remain shut, we’re busy working remotely; get in touch by email in the first instance.