The pandemic has changed the housing market – how will developers react?
Covid-19’s impact on the housing market in 2020 was immediate and clear to see as lockdown meant sales centres and show homes closed and going into somebody else’s home became something we weren’t allowed to do. At the time of writing, these restrictions have all been lifted, but that doesn’t mean that the pandemic’s impact on the homes we buy has come to an end.
For one thing, some of the measures that were brought in to allow the buying and selling process to resume safely will remain in place because they offer something that remains valuable even without any restrictions being in place.
Virtual viewings were a necessity when in-person viewings weren’t an option, but they offer ease and convenience, allowing buyers to make an initial judgement on whether they want a full viewing. This saves them time and effort and avoids wasted viewings for all involved.
Homes of the future
Spending so much time in our homes during lockdowns has undoubtedly had an impact on the kind of homes we want to live in – not to mention how we live our lives in general. Our homes shifted from being a base of operations that we left to go to work or for fun and became everything, while restrictions also impacted our ability to travel widely beyond our immediate surroundings.
How comfortable this situation was depended on your living arrangements, and this will inevitably impact the decisions people are making about moving home. For someone who found their apartment too cramped with too little access to green spaces, their next move is likely to be a house with a garden and more room in general.
A recent Zoopla survey found that just over half of UK homeowners are currently in a home that doesn’t meet their needs. Amongst the biggest complaints are:
- Not having enough space
- Not having enough outdoor space
- Not being in the right area
- Not being able to host friends and family
- Not having enough bedrooms
- Not having a dedicated space to work from home
Issues like outdoor space and having somewhere to work remotely will have been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic. People are looking for homes that give them what they’ve lacked when they’ve needed it the most, but they are also wanting better connections with the local community.
A YouGov poll from April 2020 found that two-fifths said there was a stronger sense of community in their area since the outbreak began, and these hyper-local communities may prove to be a lasting positive impact of the pandemic as people take pride in their local areas, spending more time and money there.
This will hopefully continue now that local cafes and restaurants are open again, but with 38% of people telling YouGov that they were cooking from scratch more, it’s no surprise that buyers are looking for bigger and better kitchens to test out their newfound cookery skills.
These are just some of the factors that will be affecting the housing market for years after the pandemic and we’re already seeing some key trends as a result of Covid-19. The real question is how property developers react to these trends and changing requirements to meet the needs of buyers of today.
We can expect to see new build designs to adapt to be more spacious and flexible than before, with bigger kitchens, room for remote working, home gyms, yoga studios and larger outdoor. We may also see an increase in new developments as well as additions and extensions to schemes like Help to Buy and Shared Ownership to encourage new buyers by making home ownership more affordable.
The pandemic has changed much about the way we live our lives and we can expect to see big changes in the housing market in years to come and the developers that will thrive will be the ones ready to adapt to the changing needs and requirements of buyers.