More than a quarter of the UK’s renters and homeowners (26%) have found their property needs have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to research from Wayhome.
After more than a year of remote working and months of non-essential shops and eateries being closed to the public, previously “high-valued” property amenities have fallen down the priority list.
Indeed, among the renters and homeowners whose property requirements changed amid the pandemic, the least important features are now having an easy commute to work (17%), being close to shops and restaurants (17%) and living near public transport (14%).
The gradual homeownership providers research indicates a new set of property amenities will take precedence once lockdown lifts, given the prolonged time spent at home and likelihood of hybrid working for office-workers going forward.
When asked which property features had become more important since March 2020, more than a quarter (26%) said having space for a proper home office was increasingly critical.
And, given the fact so many working parents have had to juggle work and childcare commitments, the need for decent office space rose to 30% for parents, compared to 22% of non-parents.
As well as specific space for a home office, lockdown has caused a general desire for more space, be it for work or leisure. Almost a third (30%) of all homeowners and renters wanted more space in general, and a quarter (24%) said having a bigger bedroom was necessary.
And as more of us have spent time indoors, having access to a private garden has become increasingly important. 36% said this had become more important over the past year – a more popular desire among older people, especially 55-73-year-olds at 52%, falling to 43% of 43-54-year-olds and 35% of 24-42-year-olds.
Similarly, a fifth (21%) of all respondents felt living near a public garden or green space was important to them, and the same number prioritised being near friends and family – a feature that resonated higher among women (25%) than it did for men (17%).
Nigel Purves, CEO of Wayhome said: “When you’re narrowing down your search for the perfect home to rent or buy, most of us will have a wish-list, usually split into the “essentials” and “nice-to-haves.
“Our upcoming report makes it clear just how far these wish-lists have changed as the pandemic rolled on. In most cases, we’ve seen a complete reversal, with potential renters and homeowners prioritising the things that would make living and working in that space the most comfortable and fit for purpose.
“While having the flexibility to pick and choose a desired property based on its amenities and special features doesn’t seem too much to ask – for a lot of people it’s near impossible.
“Far too often renters are being driven into buying smaller first-homes or properties in locations that aren’t suitable. Despite earning a good income, affording a deposit big enough to secure a suitable home and hitting the affordability criteria set by mortgage lenders is unsurmountable – as evidenced by the fact full-time workers would need to spend at least 7.8 times their annual earnings to be able to afford a home in England.
“With the end of lockdown in sight, now would be an opportune time for the industry to reassess the actual needs of renters and homeowners post-pandemic and support innovative and alternative routes that get more people onto the property ladder.”