As homeowners take stock of 2020 and where they live, many will seek to future-proof their properties, focusing on better broadband, separate home working space and more outdoor working space in the post-pandemic market.
Newly released data from research by housebuilder, Redrow, polled 2,000 UK adults to understand their views on their homes post-pandemic and their desires as they enter 2021.
James Holmear, Redrow’s group sales director, said: “There has been resolute demand for homes with more space to live and work as customers reflect on their lockdown experiences. With more people expected to work from home regularly, even after the worst of the pandemic is over, space to work from home has rocketed up the list of priorities for buyers.
“We are also now more reliant than ever on broadband and along with water, gas and electricity, strong internet connection is now seen as the fourth utility. For many this year, a robust connection has been the only way to maintain both their professional careers and social entertainment and poor access can be frustrating, impact quality of life and even lead to isolation and loneliness. Today, broadband connectivity is one of the first things potential buyers want to discuss with us when they come to visit one of our new developments.
“With more time spent at home, gardens are becoming increasingly important and are now the top priority for many buyers when searching for their next home. In the colder months, we’re seeing high demand among residents for gardens that offer the potential to provide snug entertainment spaces that can be quickly equipped with fire pits and outdoor kitchens.”
The survey also found that less than 10% of respondents are looking to live closer to their place of work in the future and half of the respondents (49%) are happy to move further away.
Holmear explains: “This year, city dwellers have seen the benefits of living away from traffic pollution and crowds, and are now in search of a healthier lifestyle – even if this means looking further afield where they can find attractive price differentials that will enable them to afford the extra room they crave. There is now less need to live near a place of work, encouraging a general movement away from cities, and a willingness to commute further and less frequently. Our research found that a quarter (23%) would be happy to spend an extra 30-minutes travelling to their place of work and we’re anticipating a big rise in the ’90 minute commute’ which in future is only done a few days a week.”
The final area of the poll looked at technology in the home buying process.
Holmear said: “Housebuilding has traditionally been stuck in the dark ages when it comes to technology, but buyer demand is pushing the industry further into the ‘digital’ space and we can expect to see further advancements over the next year. Last year Redrow launched its online reservation service, which is accessed via our online member's area, My Redrow.
"It allows buyers the opportunity to legally complete the reservation of their new home online and means that Covid-19 aside, our customers no longer need to visit our sales centres for a long reservation meeting. We couldn’t have predicted that the ability to look around plots and reserve homes virtually would be as important as it is today, but our investment in technology has meant that we have been well placed to support our customers who have still wanted to progress with their move during lockdown.”
In conclusion, Matthew Pratt, Redrow's CEO, said: "Following an incredibly busy re-start when the stamp duty holiday was first introduced it’s inevitable that this urgency will regularise, however, we expect the demand to remain high. We are currently selling well beyond both the stamp duty holiday ending and Help to Buy changes, as buyers progress purchases following a re-evaluation of their needs.
“Sustainable homes that offer residents a more environmentally friendly way of living are at the top of our agenda in 2021 as we support the government in aims to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. We’ve already made real strides in this area in recent years but will be doing more in 2021 as we seek to further minimise our impact and encourage greater household savings for our buyers. This includes a move to electric boilers, the roll-out of more electric car-charging points to meet the rising demand for electric vehicles and internally we are heavily focused on reducing construction waste and are also testing a variety of low carbon technologies to enable more sustainable solutions.”