Sheffield has moved up one place in the past 12 months in the top 10 most searched areas by prospective homebuyers looking to buy a new home.
Since the first lockdown last March, over two million people have searched for Sheffield on property website Rightmove. This has moved the city up to 7th in the top 10 over the past year.
Has the Pandemic Affected Where We Want to Live?
It’s interesting to look at the keywords people have been searching for in relation to new homes during the pandemic and seeing where people’s priorities lie.
A key theme amongst current homebuyers is the desire for greater space, which can be seen by the increase in people moving to the countryside.
In fact, Cornwall has now overtaken London and become the No.1 most searched area by prospective homebuyers during the on-and-off lockdowns since March 2020. Furthermore, Devon is in 3rd place in the Rightmove most-searched list, whilst coastal county Dorset has rocketed from 20th to 10th.
Unsurprisingly, the property market did slow down while the first Covid outbreak was occurring, but sales increased again much quicker in rural areas.
What is Attracting Homebuyers to Come to Sheffield?
Just over a year ago, we entered our first lockdown due to the growing infection rate of the Covid-19 virus.
Back then, property experts actually predicted that Sheffield would end up benefitting from the new ways of working that many of us have had to adapt to.
With 52% of the Londoners looking to relocate keen to move away from the capital (up from 39%), Sheffield looks like a great option. Experts suggest that Sheffield may be on their radars because they would still be able to commute to London one or two times per week for work. This aspect definitely ticks a box given the fact that, from May, there will be great improvements to rail services to London.
Let’s not forget the cheap housing available in Sheffield and the amazing National Park we have nearby. Easy access to vast outdoor spaces has seemingly shot up homebuyers’ priority lists since the pandemic started, as less green cities like London can feel very much like hotspots for spreading the virus. This is why Sheffield is so popular at the minute; it maintains a refreshing balance of city and outdoor nature areas.
Anees Rehman, Assistant Head of Department of Residential Conveyancing at Wosskow Brown, said: “People have realised that not having to commute to work every day, or at all, allows them to move away from more heavily populated areas into areas where there is more greenspace or greenspaces nearby.
“Sheffield is quite unique, not only being one of the greenest cities in Europe but also being a very short car ride or bus trip to the Peak District and its many picturesque villages and towns.”
What Else are Homebuyers Looking For?
Another key term that lots of people searched on the real estate portal was ‘garage’.
Again, lockdown life could very much be the reason for this, as people have been having to make do with their bed frame or small bedroom desk as a workspace. Having the space offered by a garage gives people the opportunity to convert this space into a home office. A garage could also be turned into a gym or some sort of workshop space.
“The pandemic has also made many people realise that having enough space not only to grow into but also to create a distinct work area is one of the biggest drivers for the property market”, Anees added.
‘Garden’ is another highly searched word at the minute too, highlighting people’s increasing desire for more outdoor space of their own.
What are Renters Looking For?
Meanwhile, renters’ search preferences moved from two and one bed flats in February 2020 to two bed detached and semi-detached houses in February 2021.
Similarly to those of homebuyers, renters’ new interests have led to a fall in renting in London.
Places like Bury and Halifax are seeing flocks of renters as Rightmove notes that renting outside of big cities has increased by 15%-20%.
However, the behaviour of renters is much more sporadic than homebuyers’, as renting comes with more flexibility. Renters can decide to move much quicker, and we may see them move again now that lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting. Businesses will be starting to let their workers back into work again, so renters may well just move back into London.