How has the idea of a ‘dream home’ changed since lockdown?

The covid-19 lockdown has changed the country in many ways, not least in how people now value their surroundings at home. After months of staying at home, it seems as if priorities are changing and people are placing more importance on their living space.

Some of this may be as a result of extra time spent indoors, but there’s also now more requirements on the home than there may have been before. Alongside being somewhere to eat, sleep and relax, it may have also become a social venue, an office, a classroom – the need for ‘more space’ may well be replaced by the need for the ‘right space’.

With that in mind, we wanted to know whether people still considered what they sought in their home to be ideal or whether the appetite for moving or extending had grown. And that’s exactly what we sought to find out in June when we conducted research into people’s attitudes to moving house and what they were looking for from their ‘dream home’.

A desire to move home

Of the 2,000 people who responded, 39% said that they had been looking to move/were thinking about moving prior to lockdown. The majority of those, 63%, said that is something they’re still thinking about now. Some reasons people gave as to why they are no longer looking to move related to factors such of change in financial situation, loss of job and pay cuts which may have prevented people from being able to move rather than changing their minds.

The top reasons people gave for still wanting to move included:

  • 30% wanted different things from their home
  • 28% said their current home isn’t big enough for them now
  • 23% said they have more saved up now
  • 21% were hoping for a drop in house prices
  • 21% said they didn’t like the neighbourhood they currently lived in

Interestingly, it was the younger generation – 18-34 year olds – who maintained their desire to move the most after lockdown.

Changing priorities

One of the trickier things to get to grips with when you’re a first-time buyer or when you haven’t owned for very long, is exactly what you want and need from your home. Twists and turns in life such as additions to the family or evolving work situations can make your requirements change anyway, but it seems to have been accelerated because of lockdown.

So much so that our polls show that since lockdown started, 26% of people agree that they have changed their mind on what they want from their dream home. Location, for instance. We saw a drop in the number of people wanting to live in the city (16% before lockdown and 12% after) and a rise in people wanting to live in the countryside (45% to 52%). In a way, this comes as no surprise – being stuck indoors for so long may have caused people to appreciate outside space more. It could also have something to do with the pandemic and not wanting to live in such close quarters to neighbours.

But different surroundings aren’t the only thing on the post-covid wishlist. More light, more outside space and more storage solutions are also high on the agenda. The top 10 wants and needs that have been added to the dream home spec according to our poll are:

  • a garden or a bigger garden (45%)
  • a spare bedroom (38%)
  • an ensuite (37%)
  • more natural light (35%)
  • a bigger kitchen (33%)
  • a garage (31%)
  • to be within walking distance of local food shops (30%)
  • a patio or decking area for BBQs (30%)
  • a state-of-the-art kitchen (29%)
  • a place in the countryside/further from the city (28%)

While not in the top ten, 28% of people also said they wanted space for a home office. This list perhaps just goes to show that people could be planning to keep some of the lockdown habits and do more work and socialising from home from now on.

Our head of mortgages, Alex Beavis told us: “Who knows what habits and lifestyle changes we’ve picked up during lockdown that might stay with us long after social distancing measures are relaxed. But what will be interesting is watching if this filters right through the housing market – we could start seeing new build properties with bigger gardens or home office areas designed in direct response to many of us getting used to working from and spending more time at home.”

It’s not all about moving

However, 28% of people confirmed that they could make changes to their current home to make it closer to their dream home.

Redoing the kitchen, building an extension, renovating the bathroom, returfing the garden and installing new windows were all mentioned as possibilities, with people saying they would consider spending an average of around £19,000 to make any changes. And to raise those funds, 17% said they would consider remortgaging their current property.

Plans on hold

Whatever plans people have for improving their surroundings, there’s a chance that lockdown has set them back a bit. Almost 4% out of the of 2000 people who took part in our survey said they had pulled out of a purchase or selling their home during lockdown/social distancing, due to various reasons including issues relating to the pandemic itself or an uncertainty about the economic situation.

We know it's not easy to make a decision at the moment, but when you are ready, we are here to help with your plans.

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