Mortgage Solutions asked brokers if they had noticed a rise in house hunters looking for homes with gardens compared to before the pandemic. Some 72 per cent of brokers said they had seen a ‘noticeable rise’ in buyers wanting gardens while 28 per cent reported no increase.
This reflects what surveyors are seeing too. The most recent Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) residential market report suggested that 81 per cent of respondents found more buyers were looking for homes with gardens and balconies.
Home is the sanctuary
A desire to have a variety of needs catered to at home appears to be driving the increased demand for residential outdoor space.
Richard Hayes, CEO and co-founder of Mojo Mortgages, said having to work from home had caused a shift in priorities of buyers and renters in the last three months.
“Before the coronavirus lockdown, serious kerb appeal and a kitchen island were key factors in how quickly a home would sell.
“Now, as potential buyers return to the reopened property market, the new must-have feature is more space – whether inside, outdoors or both, and this is definitely something that we’ve seen more of at Mojo Mortgages when we’ve been speaking to our customers,” he said.
Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at Trussle, agreed. He said the brokerage had expected to see house hunters prioritise both indoor and outdoor space following a recent survey conducted by the firm which highlighted a shift in buyer demands.
Others highlighted that the requirement for a home with a garden or balcony went further than just a superficial want for personal outdoor space.
Christopher Hall, mortgage adviser at 1st Call 4 Mortgages, said it came down to the UK’s wealth divide and the pandemic shining a light on the disparity of some people’s experiences with the lockdown.
He added: “Covid-19 has highlighted that some people are having a better time of it than others.
“Those with nice big gardens are having a much better quality of life compared to some people in inner cities who own a property which might be a high rise flat with no garden.”
However, the pandemic has left many insecure and uncertain regarding their finances so moving to a home with more outdoor space may not be option.
“With 1.8 million households on a mortgage holiday, many homeowners could struggle to move to a larger, more spacious home at this time,” Robinson said.
He said there was a significant rise in homeowners looking to improve their existing space and make do with what they have, especially as Trussle’s survey noted a quarter of homeowners had found a new appreciation for their local area since being in lockdown.
His firm noticed a surge in remortgage enquiries to finance renovations, reporting a year-on-year doubling in interest.
“We could see a rise in the number of remortgages and those releasing equity for the purpose of money-saving and home renovation,” he added.