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Pandemic drives further exodus trends but London’s resilience is strong

By Laura Leggetter
20 October 2020

By Laura Leggetter, Property

A new survey highlights that the number of house sales agreed across the UK last month (September) was 92% higher than the same month last year.

The key question is how long will the housing market rebound last?

For context, let us return to the figure of 92% revealed by the latest research from Savills just this week. It is a remarkable statistic which shows how far the UK housing market has recovered since reopening in mid-May. The increased number of sales has also similarly been seen in the new-build market too.

The implications of the Covid-19 pandemic has fast-tracked changes in the way homes are bought and sold and also sparked new thinking in the housing sector, kicked off by the emergence of the work from home phenomena and in turn an increased demand for rural properties which offer the space for home working, further stimulated by the Stamp Duty holiday. 

The new build-market is particularly well poised to adapt to this new home-working demand in its range of housing types. For example, over half of the respondents to the same Savills research specified that a separate space to work from home has now become more important to them. 

Talking of priorities it is clear our notion of wellness goes beyond the gym. How do our homes serve to foster mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and how will developers rethink shared spaces?

And so while the drumbeat of noise continues to focus on the much touted escape to the country, I feel sure that this appraisal of urban living is short-lived,  and the panel on this weeks’ Mansion Global Real Estate Forum agreed; people have always returned to cities and in fact the impact on the health of cities has greater staying power than the pandemic itself.

There will always be something irresistible about living in London and other major cities, even if for the moment rural markets are benefitting most from the new work from home demand. London has been resilient throughout the pandemic and the fundamentals of its safe-haven appeal, including health care and education, play a more important role than ever before. 

Flexibility will dictate the continuation of this rebound. Flexibility both in design, allowing spaces in the home to adapt when needed and beyond that, the flexibility of further initiatives and support shown by both Government and the Banks to buoy on the market.

Overall, there is every reason for tempered optimism that the housing market recovery will continue.