Is Location Still The Top Priority For Homebuyers?

Are we seeing a customer shift in what homebuyers are looking for post-COVID? Is it still location or are other factors now taking top priority?

A Rightmove survey in June 2020 found that more than one-third of UK buyers (39%) have altered their priorities post-lockdown, making it imperative for industry professionals to pay attention to those changing trends in their future approach. 

While location, location, location used to be the real-estate catchphrase for literal decades, it appears that is no longer the case as the aspirations and priorities of buyers in the digital age are shifting significantly. Here’s a lowdown on some of those remarkable changes occuring right now. 

Bigger is Better

With half a year in lockdown under the belt, it appears that homebuyers have a greater yearning for bigger space and optional room to grow. Searches for homes with gardens are up 42% compared to last year’s searches, with 63% saying they wanted a bigger garden or at least access to one. 

Space seems to be a big concern, with searches for bigger homes in general (43%), greater access to garages and parking space (36%) and bigger workspaces (36%) becoming recurring themes in 2020.

This is significant because for the first time in a long time, searches for all types of flats have dropped out of the top five. Renters who once sought after studio flats are now searching for two-bed houses as top choice, and buyers once content with two or three bed flats are now on the hunt for four and six-bed homes. 

Because lockdown life has accelerated these changing priorities and search histories of consumers, real estate agents need to work doubly hard to not only make sure they are adapting their sales pitch to those changing needs, but are in fact, working proactively to meet those concerns with the data they provide.

Homes that Do it All 

We can see just how much homebuyer behavior is shifting because we know what they are now looking for when it comes to home features, as compared to what they used to look for in the past. 

For example, while kitchen photographs were the most sought after aspect of property adverts, buyers are now asking agents for pictures of gardens, pools and general outdoor spaces. 

In the same way, working from home has catapulted many homebuyers to research many new things over just location, as commuting times and transport accessibility move further down the priority list. A survey discovered that one in five would like to work from home permanently, which explains why searches for quality internet access and spare rooms are on the rise as well. 

Not only that, but over half of the people surveyed (57%) indicated that they now feel a stronger sense of community in their local area - perhaps the result from pressing civil and human rights issues that have been highlighted in the midst of a global pandemic. 

More homebuyers are seeking larger kitchens equipped to accommodate whole families and more; formal dining rooms are out, kid and pet-friendly spaces to eat, do homework, and entertain as a family are in. About a fifth of all respondents also now rank family rooms as a priority, and another survey by the National Association of Home Builders in the States revealed that dedicated laundry rooms are now the no. 1 and no. 2 preferred feature for move-up buyers and first-time buyers, respectively. 

What do these shifting trends really indicate? 

This quick glimpse at shifting home-buying trends in 2020 isn’t just about people now wanting more space to live their life. Real estate agents need to realize that these searches - convenient home offices, more garden space, faster Wifi, family-friendly features - are all indicative of overall changing priorities. 

People who once bought homes based on proximity to offices and not much else, are now doing the exact opposite, and searching for homes that will make them feel more fulfilled in their everyday life, even adjusting office regimen accordingly to make that happen. Best-performing agents will be the ones who harness their online platforms and systems to extract valuable data that is both relevant and timely when it comes to the needs of their clients. By arming their new listings with content and imagery that speaks to these new priorities for buyers, agents can actively drive more interest and potentially higher sale prices for their sellers. Ultimately, consumer priorities will inevitably drive consumer behavior and purchasing habits. Therefore, to thrive in this new era, real estate agents must adjust their business approach, reexamining once overlooked features and locations in ways that truly place these new consumer aspirations firmly at the centre.

For more on the shift to working from home, how does that affect the high street real estate office? Read our blog post “Will proptech and the pandemic kill the the real estate office?”