It’s official! City dwellers really are escaping to the country

Latest research into Covid's effect on the housing market by TwentyCI reveals the extraordinary changes wrought on buyers' habits this year.


Frothy headlines about buyers yearning for outdoor space and an escape from the city earlier this year were on the money as the most recent state-of-the-nation report on the property market for Q3 shows sales agreed in rural areas are up 47% compared with 19% in urban spots.

TwentyCi’s Property and Homemover report – the pandemic edition – finds asking prices up in every region apart from Inner London, where they’ve fallen by 5%, as lockdown leads many to re-evaluate their work/life balance.

This yearning for more space is also reflected in the largest rise in sales agreed being seen in four-bed properties, up 43%. The average asking price across the UK is now up by more than £31,000 compared to 2019 and stands at £384,000.

This year’s volume of sales agreed has already surpassed the whole of 2019 while the volume of new instructions is 92% of last year’s total.

TwentyCi reports that the residential property market is at levels not seen for a decade, fuelled by a combination of low interest rates, furlough payments, a stamp duty holiday and that shift in a desire for rural locations and more space.

Conveyancing delays

However, exchanges in Q3 are currently 40% down on last year, says chief customer officer Colin Bradshaw (left), who adds: “Whilst more properties are coming to market and being viewed and sold there has not been an overnight increase in the capacity of surveyors, conveyancers, search providers or mortgage underwriters.

“We have not seen the capacity pinch with removers as yet but that must be following close behind.”

The pandemic has also impacted an already changing market where hybrid agents have exceeded the high street’s performance post-lockdown.

“New instruction growth by these online/hybrid agents has been 49% higher than their high street equivalents, with sales agreed 16.6% higher. This evolution has no doubt contributed to 713 branches closing permanently during lockdown, shrinking the number of high street agents by 3.5% to about 19,400.

Read the report in full.
Read more about the escape to the country trend.

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