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City living will not go out of fashion – Young

by: Bob Young, chief executive of Fleet Mortgages
  • 26/02/2021
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City living will not go out of fashion – Young
There is currently a lot of debate about how the pandemic might have altered the UK housing market for good.


There seems little doubt that, as with owner-occupation, the private rental sector will be changed by what has happened.

One of the interesting considerations is around city living and how sustainable that might now be.

There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest a growing number of people are looking for properties outside cities, but arguments that city living will become a thing of the past still seem wide of the mark.

Rather than potentially dismissing city living in the future as being somehow on its last legs, this situation gives us the chance to reimagine what is going to be in demand right across the board. Whether it is for owner-occupiers or landlords looking to purchase property.

Consider potentially old retail stores like Debenhams reimagined with apartments, cafes and restaurants, and smaller retail units – private equity is already looking into how it might deliver this type of development.

My fundamental belief is that city living will not go out of fashion. All the benefits of living in a city will remain, but where landlords and the private rental sector might be ahead of the game is that we’ll see the evolving trends in what tenants might now want from their rental properties far sooner than in the owner-occupier space.

That should give us a greater opportunity to respond and, it might hopefully, put pressure on housebuilders and developers to reshape their city development plans to incorporate what is going to be required.

Whether that is a refocus away from high-rise buildings with no outside space to designing more green spaces, or communal living, or including office-type space in properties.

For most people, it will be out of the question from both a personal and work situation to move out of the city.

All of that may well help landlords in what properties they can offer to tenants because regardless of whether a minority move out of city dwellings into the country, the supply available to do that is limited.

As we know, large numbers of key workers in cities cannot work from home, many people will still need to live within a commutable distance.

Demographics like students will still want and need to live in cities where their universities are.

As a housing industry we must respond and evolve.

I tend to look for the positives and this situation does give us a chance to relook at the types of properties we have in cities and whether they are now what we require.

If we can do that, then city living will continue to not only to be required but actively sought.


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