The 43% increase in London based applicants registering to move out of the Capital, we reported last year, has hardly stemmed.
The pandemic has turned so many lives upside down and, for some, the city which they had loved has suddenly felt dangerous and claustrophobic. It has brought into sharp focus their living arrangements, such as lack of gardens and overcrowding, prompting them to reassess their priorities during Lockdown and now want, or need to live in a different space, or location. Whilst Covid -19 has affected businesses, livelihoods, and family life, there have undoubtedly been moments when taking a break from the usual hectic schedules has been beneficial – spending time recharging the batteries and taking stock of the important things in our lives.
Relocating out of big towns or cities and the long-held notion of ‘moving to the country’ has been given a rather powerful nudge. Leaving behind a frantic, fast-paced lifestyle frees up time to prioritise the things one really cares about. As someone who recently moved out said “walking the dog on the beach at sunrise, now that makes me smile”. There has also been a noticeable increase in people wanting to return to where they grew up, to be nearer to family.
Demand in many areas is still exceeding supply and is split evenly between those looking for a principal home and a bolt hole, although there has been a shift. In the past, those who had a principal home in London and a smaller weekend property in the country, are now wanting the reverse. This demand, originally buoyed by the stamp duty holiday, is across the price range but is more apparent in the middle to higher of the market reflecting the need for larger properties and space.
The popularity of Suffolk is not surprising. Historically wealthy, thanks to its wool trade, it is full of pretty villages with many fine houses and cottages. Its gently rolling landscape, captured by many artists, most notably John Constable, the beautiful coast with smokehouses, fresh fish and oysters available almost everywhere, excellent pubs, artisan bakeries have all helped to attract those looking for a better quality of life. The improvements to the main road routes and the train services serving East Anglia have helped to attract those who were looking elsewhere.
Despite the exodus from London, the demand for London properties has remained strong for Houses and Flats with outside space. The media has focussed on the people who are moving away from the city and not those who are moving to the city, especially the young. This demand has led to prices being higher than at the beginning of the pandemic; driven by low stock levels, the stamp duty holiday and low interest rates. As the international corridors re-open, we expect competition from overseas buyers to heat up especially in the prime central London market. Notwithstanding the uncertainty around Brexit, as well as the pandemic, London has lost little of its lustre and it remains one of the world’s most attractive cities to live and work in.
At our office located in the heart of St James’s, we are in a unique position to harness these potential buyers as their offices and shops open up following lockdown. They can discuss their requirements with our professional qualified staff, who can answer questions about prices, market conditions and schools. We can then search the database for them and give out brochures of suitable properties being marketed by the local offices.