Since the restarting of the housing market two weeks ago DEXTERS, London’s leading independent Chartered Surveyor and estate agent, have seen a 200% jump in new enquiries compared to the same period in 2019, with over 80% of applicants looking for more spacious properties, crucially with outside space and facilities for homework – evidence that COVID-19 and the lockdown have reordered the key features that househunters are looking for when they move home.
DEXTERS report that over the last two weeks the estate agency – which has a network of 70 offices across the capital – has had a business record of over 600 sales and lettings deals agreed, everything from Mayfair mansions and Fulham pied-a-terres, to Chelsea family houses and flats all across the capital. The deals figure is 20% up on the same period last year, an average of almost 45 deals per day, or 6 deals per hour, making DEXTERS arguably the busiest agent in London.
Based on the 600 deals done over the last two weeks, DEXTERS have devised a list of the top-10 features househunters are currently looking for when they are searching for a new home in the capital. Top of the list is an extra room – primarily for use as a study/home work, second is access to outside space in the form of a garden, roofterrace, balcony or private garden square. The third feature is proximity to green open space for relaxation or exercising, whether this is in the form of a park, riverside walkway or cycle lane/park.
The next feature in rank order is the size and floor plan of the property – with all applicants seeking more space than their current home. This is followed by curb appeal (the exterior features of the home), followed by the quality of the kitchen, size of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, amount of storage and final and tenth feature is the level of windows/light in the property.
Jeff Doble, Chairman of DEXTERS said, “COVID-19 and the lockdown is helping to transform the rankings of the key features that London househunters are looking for when they are searching for a new home. In previous years when we have reviewed buyer sentiment features such as kerb appeal, kitchen size and storage have ranked higher than items such as having a study, outside space or proximity to a park.”
Andy Shepherd, Chief Executive of DEXTERS said, “Over the last two weeks we have seen a real scramble from Londoners to move home after the lockdown. Not only have househunters in the capital spent a great deal of time at home for the past couple of months but a lot of people will continue to do so.
“The shifts in the top-10 “must have” features shows that suddenly people are needing more space and not just for working from home. In our transformed COVID-19 world life has become more home-based and this will no doubt become the norm for some while to come, from eating and socialising to gardening and exercising.
“Whilst some househunters plan to move out of London, many are looking to move locally within the capital, or even closer to work. Cycle routes are the new travel lines into town, walking distances to schools and how far it is to the park are now what everyone wants to know.”
Post lockdown DEXTERS have seen large numbers of enquiries from first time buyers and also investors looking for value for money. Andy Shepherd says: “London’s property market is complex and very localised, like a patchwork of urban-villages, hence all DEXTERS offices have local expertise. The internet and video are useful tools for us to communicate with customers but our local knowledge and “feet on the ground” is what our customers really value.”
DEXTERS highlight that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown the London market was anticipated to see a big price jump at Easter because the market was so busy earlier in the year. The company highlights that this price rise has now been put on hold and so buyers are sensing it is now a good time to buy. When making an investment in property buyers are thinking long term and with relatively low levels of house building and a growing population, DEXTERS forecast that demand will continue to push prices higher.
The summer is peak time for the London lettings market and post-lockdown DEXTERS offices have seen large numbers of enquiries from students and corporate tenants, looking to move to over the coming months. Whilst there are worries about Covid-19 and travel restrictions, it seems that there is optimism that London will recover and that overseas visitors feel that the UK capital remains an exciting and essential place to live, work, play and study.