The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a number of knock-on effects, one of the biggest of which has been much a greater appreciation of, and connection to, nature. This has led to a clear spike in the number of people taking up running, walking, cycling and other outdoor leisure activities to keep their mental and physical health in check. During the first six weeks of lockdown, the one form of exercise people were allowed each day became worth its weight in gold, giving people a far greater awareness and gratitude of parks, commons, woodland and other nearby green space, as well as their own garden/outdoor space.
For many, though, there has been frustration at their lack of garden/outdoor space during lockdown, and some of these people may now be considering a move to a property which provides this. Now that the property market has restarted and people are allowed to move around again, many prospective buyers will be prioritising garden/outdoor space. For you, as a seller, it could be a deal-breaker amongst a much larger pool of buyers than was the case before. Below, we analyse findings from surveys indicating the rising importance of garden/outdoor space. We also offer tips on how sellers can maintain and show off theirs in the best possible way.
A survey conducted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has emphasised how vital outside space will be to buyers post-pandemic. An additional question was included in the May 2020 RICS Residential Market Survey, which asked contributors to provide their views and information on what buyers were saying to them, regarding possible shifts in the factors of a property that purchasers will be prioritising over the next two years (owing to recent events).
With the recent situation in mind, it was unsurprising that 81% of respondents across the UK said that there will be an increasing demand for homes with gardens or balconies. Additionally, 74% predicted a growth in demand towards homes located near green spaces, while 68% believed that properties with greater private and less communal space would become more desirable among buyers. By contrast, 78% of respondents said there will be a fall in the attractiveness of tower blocks and 58% stated that properties located in highly urban areas will now be less appealing. Although non-essential travel on public transport is still being discouraged, and despite the fact that there has been a dramatic drop in passenger numbers in recent months, the majority of those surveyed by RICS expected no change in the desirability of homes situated near to transport hubs. According to Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, there are already signs that those seeking to purchase a property are reacting to the conditions created by the pandemic, prioritising properties with gardens or balconies and green space in close proximity.
Property portal Rightmove said two in five prospective homebuyers have altered what they are looking to purchase as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its research revealed that nearly half of renters (49%) and 39% of buyers currently in the market said lockdown had had an impact on what type of home they were after, with both now prioritising garden space or wanting to live in a bigger home. Much like good-quality homeworking space now becoming a must for many buyers due to the pandemic, gardens and outside space – which have become such a prized asset as a place to escape to during lockdown – have garnered an equal level of importance in buyers’ minds.
The property website recently reported that searches for houses with gardens had increased by 42% in May 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. Rightmove’s survey of over 4,000 home-movers also revealed that certain features are becoming more crucial to buyers than ever before.
When questioned on the main change to their priority list, some 63% of buyers said they wanted a bigger garden or access to one. This was comfortably the most important new priority for purchasers. What’s more, the survey showed that, in lockdown, there had been a growth of 19% in the number of people gardening indoors, and 15% in people gardening outdoors. When asked if they plan to continue doing these activities in the future, 82% said they wanted to garden outdoors, while 89% wanted to exercise outdoors. This, once more, suggests a considerable increase in demand for garden or outdoor space.
No matter its size, if you have garden or outdoor space, you should absolutely use it to your advantage. Make it a key part of your sales pitch to buyers. The above research shows us clearly how important it will be to many buyers post-lockdown, especially as the prospect of a second spike in cases and further restrictions on movement is still a possibility. As well as excellent homeworking areas, your garden or outdoor space is likely to be the next most popular major consideration for buyers in the new normal.
With this in mind, it needs to be in the best possible shape, both on the initial virtual viewings and the physical in-person viewings, too. Buyers need to see a well-maintained garden or outdoor space, and one that really stands out from the crowd, given its increasing importance.
Luckily, garden maintenance doesn’t require much effort, expertise or money – on a basic level. Mow the lawn, de-weed where necessary, jet-wash your patio and add some hanging baskets or new flowers for colour and vibrancy. Make sure any BBQ or seating areas are in the best possible condition, and the same goes for any decking you have and the fences that line your garden. Equally, don’t neglect the garage or shed if you have one, as this could be appealing to many buyers. If you have a stand-out feature –a pond or a grand water feature, maybe – don’t be afraid make this the centrepiece. To absolutely maximise the potential and saleability of your garden space, you may want to hire in a gardener or landscape artist to get it looking its best. Remember, anyone visiting your home must adhere to the government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene at all times.
While this will be more expensive than a DIY approach in the short-term, it could be paid back many times over if your garden proves to be a deal-breaker for a buyer.
Here at Balgores Property Group, our offices – which cover East London, Essex and Kent - are open for business again, in strict accordance with government guidelines. All of our offices have been deep cleaned and will be adhering to social distancing rules.
The safety of our clients is paramount and, to this end, we are still offering video valuations to help with social distancing during the early stages of a house move.
You can contact us at one of our branches here.