New research from gradual homeownership provider, Wayhome has revealed just how much Covid 19 has changed buyers and renters needs and the things they find essential when choosing somewhere to live. Over a quarter (26%) of respondents said that the pandemic had changed their priorities and they now looked for different things when looking at properties.

After a year of working from home and shops and cafes being closed, homes close to amenities have slipped down the list of priorities. Features such as having an easy commute to work, being close to shops and restaurants and living near public transport routes have slipped way down the list of priorities for homeowners and renters whose property requirements have changed significantly during the pandemic.

Wayhome suggest that a new set of desirable features, such as home working space will take precedence once lockdown lifts completely, given the prolonged time that many people have spent at home and the likelihood of hybrid working (partly from home, partly from office) for many workers, going forward.

When asked which property features have become more important since March 2020, more than a quarter of the respondents (26%) said that they needed room for a proper home office – rather than a corner of a room or the kitchen table. This was even higher amongst working parents who have been juggling work with childcare commitments. 30% of parents said they needed a dedicated office space at home, compared to 22% of non-parents.

In addition to home working space, lockdown prompted a desire for more space in general, indoors and out. Almost a third (30%) of all homeowners and renters want more space in total – and a quarter (24%) said that they would like a bigger bedroom.

Having access to a private garden has also become increasingly important. 36% said this had become more important over the past year. Finding a home with a garden was a top priority for older people, especially 55-73 year olds at 52%, falling to 43% of 43-54 year olds and 35% of 24-42 year olds.

Similarly, a fifth (21%) of all respondents felt that living close to a park or open green space was important to them, and the same number prioritised being closer to friends and family – a feature that resonated higher among women (25%) than it did for men (17%).

Talking about the results, the CEO of Wayhome, Nigel Purves told Propertywire:

 “When you’re narrowing down your search for the perfect home to rent or buy, most of us will have a wish-list, usually split into the “essentials” and “nice-to-haves”. Our upcoming report makes it clear just how far these wish-lists have changed as the pandemic rolled on. In most cases, we’ve seen a complete reversal, with potential renters and homeowners prioritising the things that would make living and working in that space the most comfortable and fit for purpose.

“While having the flexibility to pick and choose a desired property based on its amenities and special features doesn’t seem too much to ask – for a lot of people it’s near impossible. Far too often renters are being driven into buying smaller first-homes or properties in locations that aren’t suitable. Despite earning a good income, affording a deposit big enough to secure a suitable home and hitting the affordability criteria set by mortgage lenders is unsurmountable – as evidenced by the fact full-time workers would need to spend at least 7.8 times their annual earnings to be able to afford a home in England*.

“With the end of lockdown in sight, now would be an opportune time for the industry to reassess the actual needs of renters and homeowners post-pandemic and support innovative and alternative routes that get more people onto the property ladder.”

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