The “space race” is over! More and more house hunters are eschewing country life for the city

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  • House hunters return to the city in favor of better services and amenities
  • The pandemic ‘space race’ has seen buyers flock to rural and coastal areas
  • The number of Londoners leaving the capital to move elsewhere fell in 2023

A large proportion of house hunters are fleeing the countryside and returning to the city for better services and amenities.

Property experts said there had been a “return” to city living after the so-called “space race” during the pandemic, when they avoided urban areas in favor of rural areas and coastal areas after several confinements.

Jonathan Rolande, of House Buy Fast, said: “We have definitely noticed a return to city living which has diminished during the pandemic.

“Between 2020 and 2022, many people were looking to move to more rural and remote homes as employers were very relaxed about working from home.

House hunters are returning to urban areas after the pandemic, real estate experts say

House hunters are returning to urban areas after the pandemic, real estate experts say

He adds: “Now, with the return to the office, urban properties are making a comeback. The challenge of course is being able to afford it. But one consequence of this is that we could see housing prices outside urban areas fall.

He suggested the move back to the city marked a shift in buyer attitudes, who were seeking better services and amenities, such as improved high-speed internet access and transport links.

The study follows findings published by estate agents Hamptons late last year that the number of Londoners leaving the capital to move elsewhere in Britain has fallen significantly in 2023.

At the time, it claimed Londoners would have to spend a total of £28.7 billion on housing outside the capital in 2023.

This is a drop of 41% – or £20.1 billion – compared to the £48.8 billion recorded in 2021, when emigration peaked.

Some real estate experts also said there has been a shift among buyers, who are being reminded of the value of city living.

Guy Meacock, of buying agent Prime Purchase, said: “Being stuck in a city apartment with no garden during Covid was particularly difficult, when there’s no point having all the amenities of city life to your door if you can’t. to access.

“Those who did it as a somewhat impulsive reaction now think that the country can feel lonely, especially with cities returning to normal and everything reopening.

“It’s an age-old dilemma: If you’re wealthy enough, the ideal is to have a foot in both camps: urban excitement and the peace and quiet of the countryside. But most don’t have the luxury of having two holes.

“The importance and value of being with people cannot be overstated. If that means less space and a smaller garden, then there’s still something to be said.

Guy Meacock, of buyers agent Prime Purchase, explained that if you're wealthy enough, it's ideal to have a foot in both property camps: urban excitement and peace and quiet in the countryside .

Guy Meacock, of buyers agent Prime Purchase, explained that if you’re wealthy enough, it’s ideal to have a foot in both property camps: urban excitement and peace and quiet in the countryside .

The Hamptons has revealed the number, share and total value of homes bought outside the capital by a Londoner

The Hamptons has revealed the number, share and total value of homes bought outside the capital by a Londoner

Meanwhile, north London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: “Many companies welcome full-time office working, although there is a reluctance from some workers who have tasted to life away from the office during the pandemic to committing to coming back. the office fully.

“The need to return to the office more has led to an increase in demand for urban properties, which has inevitably had a knock-on effect on values, but not yet as abruptly.

“Those who rented their properties rather than burning their bridges and selling during Covid have done well because they have managed to maintain their values.

“Meanwhile, those who have sold and are trying to get back are struggling to do so, especially those who took advantage of rock-bottom mortgage rates a few years ago when they hit rock bottom.

“Now they face significantly higher mortgage costs, higher property prices and a higher cost of living.”

Reasons to come back to town?

Real estate expert Jonathan Rolande, founder of House Buy Fast, outlines some of the reasons buyers are returning to cities post-pandemic.

These include connectivity issues, nearby amenities

Connectivity

For many, super-fast and reliable broadband is as important as gas and electricity supplies.

Nowhere seems perfect, but many rural areas have less reliable connection and can be more severely affected by adverse weather conditions.

Nearby amenities

High streets and pubs in rural areas have suffered post-Covid and many feel the place is just not the same.

The departure of banks and post offices will not worry many city workers happy to do business online, but the charm of many villages is undoubtedly diminished in some areas.

Energetic efficiency

Rural areas tend to be colder and hit harder by rising prices, especially if they don’t use town gas.

Older country houses can be cold, draughty and expensive to insulate, especially without spoiling their character.

And there may be an increased risk of flooding from rivers and hills in the countryside.

Transportation

Access to quality, efficient and reliable rail service will always help to insulate the value of your home.

So will increasing access to a good local bus or tram service. Properties that cannot offer either of these things and require the owner to need a car and parking space will be less attractive to many people looking to buy. And that could impact the price.

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