The property sector is undergoing change as thousands of people start their fifth month of home-working and more firms commit to making long-term arrangements for working from home.
The lockdown has resulted in abrupt changes to people’s working lives. Although some are beginning to return to work, more than a quarter of workers have been furloughed. As a consequence, around half the workforce have worked from home to some extent, and a reported 34pc intend to do so indefinitely.
This shift in working conditions has meant that people have spent considerably more time at home. Additionally, many employers from SMEs to large organisations have announced they are willing to extend home-working for the foreseeable future. Some have even offered the option without a time limit.
How the coronavirus could affect the housing market
The change in work routines, which could have profound implications for the housing market, has already created new trends. Many agents report a rise in consumers seeking homes with room for an office and some outdoor space.
As many workers’ commuting needs have become redundant, their preferences as regards location are evolving. Home buyers may now be willing to be more flexible as long as the property fits the bill. Although living near good transport links and amenities is still important to many home owners and tenants.
A home office is a priority for 21pc of people, according to the survey carried out by the Guild of Property Professionals. The research also revealed that buyers are now willing to live at a distance of 56 miles from their office, which represents a considerable increase from 23 miles pre-lockdown.
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, said that not having to commute so far or so often means that buyers have a wider choice of where to live and can explore areas that are further afield but offer greater value for money.
Manchester could become the premier city
The research appears to confirm the growing belief that London is losing its importance as the capital city. Although 41pc of respondents believe that the capital will always feature at the centre of UK business, other cities are gaining in importance.
The report states that Londoners are the most likely to be told that they can work totally from home. Just over half (56pc) of those working in the capital said they are already home-working full-time. Obviously, this removes the need to live in or very near the city and presents a host of alternatives further afield.
The increase in home-working will lead to a rise in the numbers of people leaving the capital and buying homes that are cheaper and offer better value for money.
Landlords and tenants
The latest trends affect all types of tenure, not only home owners who wish to buy. The requirements of tenants in the private rented sector will also continue to change. A wide choice of different types of accommodation will be as important, if not more so, to renters.
Landlords who can provide what tenants want will have no problem finding people looking for a property to suit their lifestyle. Naturally, good broadband availability is a must. And access to any kind of outdoor space, whether a patio or balcony, will be a bonus.
The new working arrangements will boost the popularity of the build-to-rent sector. Many of these properties provide dedicated areas for working and are likely to become increasingly popular with renters. This type of housing offers residents a way of working from home free from the distractions of the typical household.