Latest thought

Trend reversal.

June 2020

How the decades long desire to be close to others vanished overnight.

For the last 30 years, as the population aged, the quest for an isolated home devoid of shops and transport, became less and less. The urge to buy in cities and towns was overwhelming. No need for a car or even a garden where elderly residents could rely on public transport and a park. Not anymore.

The last two months has shaken the priorities of us all. How we live and where we live. Most will not have the spare funds to buy a second home as a rural retreat, and if we did, there may be local resentment to contend with. Many potential sellers had put off the idea of moving “out to the country” for several years but the last ten weeks has been an unprecedented time and an apparent tipping point. Estate agents report widely that Londoners are heading for the exit in order to find a new life and that all important “home office.”

What does this mean for those living in London who wish to remain and those who decide to take the plunge and move out? The London market has been in decline since 2014 and you can expect that trend to continue as supply increases. Greater choice for buyers while prices drop marginally in the short term. Good time to buy while the gap between London and the rest of the country continues to close. However, don’t expect that unmodernised house to be a bargain. They rarely are and will sell quickly regardless of market conditions.

For those moving out, there is a sharper learning curve. First, there is little point looking until you have sold (exchanged) where London property may no longer fly off the shelf. There are various inter-related factors affecting the country market which are rarely thought of when buying in London. Seasonal variations, topography, new transport routes and housing developments nearby are a few examples. Welcome to “NIMBYism”. One aspect, when buying in the country, which does not attract the attention it deserves is the plot. The plot size and shape can be just as important as the house itself and many Londoners fail to grasp this crucial distinction. Unless you control (aka own) the land immediately around your property you are likely to end up at countless parish council meetings complaining of what your neighbours wish to do on their land. If you have the opportunity to buy extra land to insulate yourself from hidden eyesores and ugly development, do so. The pressure to build on green fields will not go away so best to be prepared for it.

Hanslips helps buyers get it right first time. Moving is expensive and no one wants to move twice having discovered, all too late, those hidden pitfalls.