Country living

The experience of lockdown and isolation in cities may well be creating opportunities for lettings outside the conurbations, says Frances Burkinshaw.

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I am guessing that by the time The Negotiator is being read, lockdown will have been relaxed for most people and most businesses – if not, goodness knows what the future will hold for us all! Luckily sales and letting agents were able to open their doors for business during June – of course, only if they were able to follow the guidelines for social distancing for viewings etc.

Changing how we live and work

Many city dwellers, mostly young no doubt, moved out of the cities during lockdown; many moved ‘home’ to live with parents who perhaps lived in the countryside or in the outer areas of the cities. Many such people will have had outside space and gardens and will have been able to enjoy fresh air and sunshine particularly during April and May when we had our amazing summer early.

Frances Burkinshaw image
Frances Burkinshaw

Now that those young people are returning to work many will be considering their lives and futures. Rightmove was quoted as saying that it had its busiest day ever early in June, no doubt with people looking to sell and move and also change their rented accommodation.

Journalists are being quoted as saying that the ‘new normal’ will be that many workers will choose to work from home for say two or three days per week. In order for this to work well people may well be looking for slightly larger accommodation, perhaps an extra bedroom that could be turned into a study or a garage that could be converted or a cabin in the outdoor space.

Lockdown with Mum & Dad

Larger accommodation, of course, will be more expensive – but perhaps not if one moves out of the city centres. We all know that you will get far more for your money in the suburbs or countryside.

My daughter is one such person; she has been working from our home for the past three months; she has so appreciated the quiet, the view over local fields – and mother’s cooking of course! She lives in a flat in Birmingham where the service charges are very high. She is now going to sell her flat and look to buy a house away from the city centre. Taking into account her current service charges she will be able to increase her mortgage substantially using that available monthly amount – no brainer, she thinks.

A boom for letting?

If working from home becomes more fashionable, transport bosses will have to think about more flexible ticketing. At present, people buy season tickets – but they are not flexible at all. Perhaps they could invent a ticket which can be ‘punched’ or ‘read’ when used and which could be used say three days a week, but those days could be flexible. Transport for London’s Oyster card is a good model.

The young will always want to return to the city centres for entertainment such as eating out or going to the theatre but perhaps we will be able to appreciate our green spaces more when returning home after a night out.

There will be a greater need to provide good quality rented accommodation out of the city centres. Investors should be ready.

Residential lettings has saved the housing market on numerous occasions. It will probably do so again now. Those people wishing to move may choose to rent for a period to ‘try out’ an area before buying. Or, as we know, there are many who now choose to rent permanently as a lifestyle choice, so there will be a greater need to provide good quality rented accommodation out of the city centres. Then there are those who have no choice but to rent and they, too, should be provided with good quality, safe, rented accommodation.

The demand will be there so landlords and letting agents must be ready for the influx of business which will follow, no doubt during these summer months. Investors should also be ready to purchase sensible property and have it up and running in time to meet demand.

Frances Burkinshaw is an experienced independent trainer available nationally for in-house, group or Zoom-style training. 01892 783961 or 07887 714341 or [email protected].

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