28th April 2020
Being in lock down has caused many of us to turn our homes into gyms, offices, mindfulness retreats and the like. When the lockdown is finally lifted, will there will be a return to life as we knew it, or will some of the changes currently imposed stay with us and be engrained into our new everyday lives? If so, what impact might these have on the residential housing market?
Two of the most fundamental behavioural shifts seen over recent weeks include:
Firstly, for the 9.9 million people who are members of health and fitness clubs in the UK, our homes are now our sports venues as we transform living space to accommodate P.E, dance, yoga and fitness classes. Fitness coach Joe Wicks has been on a mission to keep families active through free online P.E. classes. A record-breaking 955,185 households tuned in to P.E with Joe on the 24th March - a Guinness record. Additionally, almost 300,000 of us streamed the first rehearsal of Gareth Malone’s Great British Chorus and there were over 70,000 views of the Trolls kids dance class. According to BUPA, many of us have also been turning our living rooms into personal retreats, with mindfulness now the top wellness therapy in the UK.
Secondly, a considerable number of UK households have been forced to turn part of their homes into office and work space. For some, this was just business as usual, however for most of us it represented a whole new experience as evidenced by the fact that in 2019, just 5% of the UK workforce mainly worked from home and less than 30% had even tried it. Following the introduction of lock down measures, computer monitor purchases increased 172% in March, office chairs were up 104% and office desks up 89%. In March, Zoom hosted 200 million meetings a day compared to just 10 million in December 2019.
So, will the increased propensity to undertake fitness, leisure and work activity from home have an impact on the longer term residential housing market? In our view, the answer is most likely 'yes', with buyers becoming more focussed on:
- Work from home space – if working from home is going to be a longer-term option, then the kitchen counter is probably not the solution. Additional bedrooms, studies, converted attics could all provide the space necessary to set up a more permanent home office.
- Broadband speed will become an even more important factor to buyers. There is no point logging into your zoom meeting or trying to download your daily workout if your internet speed won’t allow you to function effectively (please see our area guides for data on broadband speeds in the local area).
- Larger cities could see a fall in demand for property as people are increasingly willing to work from home and make a lifestyle choice by moving to more rural locations or the coast. In contrast, areas such as Worthing and Goring by Sea could well benefit.
- While ‘virtual viewings’ have become important during lockdown, we do not feel that the use of virtual tools will structurally change the market. When people are making a choice of where to live, they will always want to walk through the door and take a closer look. But we can expect virtual tours to continue to play an increasingly important role in the marketing of a property and generating initial interest.
Want to know more?
Will the work at home trend continue after COVID-19?
What transaction volume can we expect for residential property post COVID-19? Read here: