Homebuyers move with their hearts not their heads

Amanda Jarvis

October 18, 2004

87% choose lifestyle over economic reasons for moving home

Despite reports of a slow down in the housing market, the findings show that the majority of British homebuyers don’t make their moving decisions based on purely on economic considerations. Only 5% of people are likely to move if they read that house prices will fall, while only 6% of people claim that a drop in interest rates – leading to a more affordable mortgage – would encourage them to move. Only 1% of those questioned claimed they would move house if they read that the housing market was stabilising.

The research shows that personal factors lead the way in dictating buyers’ moves. More than one in five (21%) plan to stay put unless they find their dream home. Similarly, 16% will move to provide more space for their families, and a further 12% are seeking domestic bliss in a more rural location.

Paul Cooper, Head of Mortgages at Alliance & Leicester, said: “These findings show that despite rising interest rates and regular commentary on how the housing market is faring, people still look to personal factors – from needing more space to finding their dream house – to dictate whether they move house or stay put.

“There has been much speculation about the fate of the property market, and while it is good to see that homeowners are prepared to keep to their own agenda amid uncertainty, there are several economic factors that should be considered. While the Bank of England’s announcements may seem miles away from our own personal housing plans, changes in interest rates can have a real effect on our mortgage payments and what we can afford. It is advisable for homeowners to monitor such changes as they will play a large role in dictating their budget.”

Why people choose to move?

Lifestyle factors

* The top reason that makes people most likely to move (21%) is if they find their dream property. This is a more significant reason for women, with 25% prepared to wait for their dream home before making their next move (compared with 19% men).
* Concerned they have enough room for their families, 16% of people will look to move house to provide more space for their families. Those in their 30’s are the most concerned with space, one in four (25%) making space the crucial factor, more than double those in their 40s (10%).
* Clearly ambitious, more than one in ten (13%) homeowners are looking onwards and upwards and will look to move house as their career progresses or their salary increases. British men are far more likely to use a promotion as a catalyst to move than women – 17% compared with 8%.
* While the fast pace of city living may appeal to many people, 12% of people would be persuaded to move home if it meant relocating to a rural location. Living in the countryside appeals more to men than women – 13% compared with 10%.
* Not wanting to ’rattle around’ in an empty house, 9% of people will down size when their families fly the nest. Just 8% of those in their 40s would be tempted to move for this reason, compared with as many as 44% in their 60s.
* No longer disillusioned by house prices, first time buyers are now seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Just 6% will be most likely to move to simply get a foot on the property ladder, no longer feeling ‘it’s now or never’.

Economic indicators

* Just 6% of people would move if lower interest rates made their mortgage payments more affordable. Men will be the most likely to take advantage of the more affordable mortgages, with 8% prepared to move home to cash-in (compared to 3% of women). The most cautious group are those in their 50s, only 3% of whom will decide to move under these circumstances.
* Unmoved by Chinese whispers, just 5% will be likely to move if they read that house prices are falling – 5% of men compared with 6% of women.
* Just 1% of people will be most inclined to move if they read the market has stabilised.

Around the regions

* The Scots and people in East Anglia are the most likely to hang-on for their dream homes, with more than one in three (31%) most likely to move if they find their dream house. In contrast, the Welsh seemingly won’t hold out to find their ideal home – just 16% are likely to move if they do.
* Space for the family is the clinching factor for 27% of Welsh residents, who will be motivated to move to a bigger house to provide more room. Seemingly content with what they have, residents in the East and West Midlands are less concerned with moving to provide a greater amount of space – 9% and 11% respectively.
* Perhaps surprisingly given the limited greenery within the nation’s capital, just 10% of London residents are likely to be motivated to move to a more rural location. Whereas, 17% of residents in the East Midlands yearn for open countryside (the group most likely to move to a rural area).
* 14% of people living in the South West will be most likely to move house this year as lower interest rates will provide them with a more affordable mortgage. Just 2% of those in Wales and 3% of those in Yorkshire and the North West will move to cash-in on the lower rates.

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