There seems no let-up in the exodus from city to country/coastal spots as Rightmove reveals its most popular property location in March was the holiday destination of Newquay in Cornwall.
More than 82% of homes in the picturesque town, advertised on Rightmove since the beginning of the year, have sold – more than any other location in the UK. The town, with a population of 22,000, has a harbour as well as many coastal walks and beaches.
Next most popular was the small market town of Newton-le-Willows in St Helens, Merseyside, where 81.8% of properties advertised have sold. Also with a population of just 22,000, the town boasts plenty of independent shops, as well as excellent commuter links.
Newton-le-Willows was closely followed by Plymstock in Devon where 81.2% of homes have changed owners since 1 January, 2021. Another commuter suburb located just outside Plymouth, Plymstock has a similar population to the other two towns at 24,103 residents.
What this report demonstrates is that, since lockdown, the desire to move to less densely populated areas with more garden room and a bigger property overall is still uppermost in many buyers’ minds. That is especially true when you consider that only one in five properties sold since the start of the year have been in a city centre, according to Rightmove’s records.
The company’s director of property data, Tim Bannister, said: “Areas around the north and southwest are the stand-out sellers’ markets right now, and places in Cornwall and Devon are continuing the trend of a desire to move to the seaside and countryside.
“Suburbs are also faring well as some people move further out from the centre of cities.”
Demand far outstripping supply – worst for a decade
Meanwhile, demand is continuing to outstrip supply. A report from upmarket estate agents Hamptons showed there were 14% fewer homes on the market from January to March 2021, but 17% more buyers compared with the same period last year. As a result, it has become the best seller’s market in a decade. In Scotland, for instance, there are 24 buyers for every property coming on to the market there.
In London, however, it’s the opposite. There is 17% more property available in the capital compared with 2020 and only one in six prospective buyers per property. Since last May, many Inner London homeowners have been harking for a home in the suburbs. This has resulted in many sellers adding what estate agents describe as a “park premium”: for instance, popular boroughs with plenty of green spaces, such as Wimbledon and Richmond, have seen house prices jump 12% and 6% respectively since the start of the year.
House prices increase £15,000 in a year
Naturally, demand has pushed prices up to the extent that, in March, the average property in the UK cost a record £254,606. That’s according to figures released by the Halifax, which states the increase is £15,000 year-on-year. In fact, from January to March this year, prices increased 0.3% from the last quarter (October to December).
Regionally, the northwest is faring best for property price increases. Figures from the HM Land Registry House Price Index recently showed property there had risen by 12% over the last quarter. That compares to 8.9% in the northeast, Yorkshire and the Humber.
Property selling more quickly in the north and Midlands
In terms of how quickly it is taking property to shift, property portal Zoopla’s statistics show Wigan takes the title for a mere 26 days to sell a house or apartment (from listing to “sold subject to contract”). This is also in line with the desire to move to bigger properties, with the most popular house a three-bedroom detached valued between £100,00 and £150,000.
The next fastest-selling areas were Salford, Redditch near Birmingham, Knowsley in Lancashire, Sheffield, and Medway in the Kent – each with just 27 days to sell a property. This compares with Liverpool at 30 days, Manchester at 31 days and Bristol at 33 days.
Estate agents Savills says the northwest, together with Yorkshire and the Humber, will be where most of the property price growth will be over the next five years. Figures of 6% growth for 2022 aren’t unreasonable, they say. Their predictions rise to a total growth of 28.8% for the northwest and 28.8% for Yorkshire and the Humber by 2025.
What this could mean, analysts believe, is a diminishing of price differentials between the north and south by the end of this decade. This is with the exception of London, of course, where prices are expected to pick up again well before 2030.
The expert team at architectural specialist WindsorPatania has helped complete a major rebuild of Mill Road’s Taank Optometrists in Cambridge, with the shop unveiling its brand-new look in February this year following a fire that destroyed the property and other businesses in the Mill Road Conservation area in July 2019. Work on the property has been completed in record time thanks to in-depth architectural plans and an innovative space-saving solution drawn up by WindsorPatania.
WindsorPatania, which works on bespoke residential, retail and mixed-use design projects across the UK, created a design that allows the client private outdoor space and airy interiors, whilst adhering to strict fire regulations.
The original building comprises the optometrist shop on the ground, first and second floor of the building, and a separate flat to the rear of the first floor. The building has been a part of the client’s family history for more than 100 years, and so the team was keen to ensure this historical and emotional attachment was respected in the rebuild.
The WindsorPatania team stepped in before the building regulation phase, spotting immediately there was no fire safety strategy in place, leading to a complete redesign of the available space. Each room of the flat – including bedroom, kitchen and living room, plus the two-storey optometrists – needed clear fire escapes. At the same time, the client was very keen to keep as much open space as possible, so the WindsorPatania team needed to work to the millimetre to ensure every inch of the property was used effectively.
The team, led by Architectural Director Giovanni Patania and Senior Architectural Assistant Roberta Sanna, created a brand-new concept, which included the removal of a metal staircase outside and incorporated a hallway and ramp, which were fit for escape purposes. All specifications of the project are high end, offering modern, eco-friendly and luxurious spaces for both tenant and retailer.
The front-facing exterior has been restored to retain as many of the original period features as possible, in keeping with the neighbouring buildings along Mill Road. At the back of the building, the team were able to be more creative, retaining the building’s original features whilst also adding a modern element to the design.
WindsorPatania team members worked around the clock to finish the architectural phase in record time, with all approvals and designs submitted just four months after being granted the project. The short turnaround and attention to detail meant that tendering with local building firms began early summer of 2020, with building work commencing at the end of September.
The Taank Optometrists team was keen to reopen as soon as possible, given the potential impact on customer experience and sales, and the shop opened its doors again on 8 February.
William Mayes, Director at Layrd Design, acted as project manager and interior designer on the project. “We were extremely happy with the outcome of the redesign,” he said. “The client offers a high-end service and needed the interiors and the overall building design to reflect this. We wanted the end result to showcase a luxurious but approachable and comfortable setting.
“We achieved that through bespoke details like the addition of a coffee bar with high stools, where clients can enjoy a drink whilst waiting for an appointment or whilst their new frames are being fitted. We also included a new frame adjustment area, complete with workshop.”
Roberta Sanna, Senior Architectural Assistant and lead designer on the project, said: “It was a very intense few months, challenging but extremely satisfying. There were a lot of size constraints to take into consideration with the building, which is over 100 years old.
“We ran through many different scenarios to pass fire regulations such as incorporating sprinklers or outside fire escapes into the plans, but eventually came up with the ramp/hallways combination which is a rather elegant, tailored solution.”
WindsorPatania co-founder Ryan Windsor added: “After fighting to the centimetre to get the construction acceptable by building and fire regulation standards, and meeting all of the client’s needs, we are delighted to see the final result.”