What do house hunters want most?

COVID19 has forced many of us to reassess the way we live and work.  Over recent months, the line between life and work has become increasingly blurry for an increasing number of people.  Working from home may not quite be the new standard for everyone, but it is the new normal for a lot of people and looks set to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  A recent study by finder.com suggests that this may be influencing house hunter’s priorities.

The space race is on

Priorities one and two were if a property had outside space (and the size of that outside space) followed by the size of the property itself.  These were cited by 33% and 28% of people respectively.

It’s hard to see this as being anything other than an understandable reaction to the lockdown.  Families with children, especially young ones, will probably have a very strong wish for safe outdoor space for them.  Even people without children (or pets) may feel reassured to know that they have access to safe outdoor space, especially if there is any prospect of gyms closing again.

Indoor space matters too.  If you are only working from home occasionally, then a decent home office is a “nice-to-have”.  If you’re working from home all the time, then it’s a whole lot more important.  In principle, the need for home office space may be temporary, albeit long-term temporary.  In practice, it is looking increasingly like home working is going to become much more a feature of work long into the future.

Transport still matters

Priorities three and five were parking and good transport links.  These were cited by 24% and 21% of people respectively.  It’s interesting that people are citing parking more than good transport links, albeit only slightly.

This could signal a growing preference for the privacy of cars rather than the potentially germ-infested environment of public transport.  It could also signal that people are prepared to move further away from the main commuter links and drive to them if necessary.  After all, if you’re only going to be in the office one or two days a week instead of five, then you might be perfectly happy to trade a longer commute for more space and/or lower prices.

Quality of life

Four of the top ten features related directly to quality of life.  These were:

#4 The property being in a nice area   22%

#6 Being closer to family/ friends         17%

#7 Being close to amenities     16%

#8 Situated in an area with a low crime rate    14%

It’s interesting that people are currently mentioning the crime rate as being a key factor in their decision-making process, albeit one which is fairly low on the list.  This could be a sign that people are becoming increasingly concerned about what the future may bring and the impact it could have on their personal security and the security of their property.

Maintenance costs and looks don’t matter too much

The cost of running and maintaining the property and how the house looks were cited by 14% and 12% of people respectively.  This put them on ninth and tenth place on the list.  Possibly this reflects the fact that maintenance costs can often be improved.

It is interesting that only 12% of people cite how the house looks.  This does rather fly in the face of conventional sales wisdom.  Real estate professionals regularly tell their clients to make sure that their homes look as good as possible and give them tips on how to do this.  It’s difficult to interpret this point, but one very feasible suggestion is that buyers are prepared to overlook a questionable exterior if the property meets their needs in other ways.

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