It is difficult to say if/when the coronavirus pandemic will be over or when the UK might move back to anything near normality. What we do know is that we have seen some significant changes in commuting habits which may be here to stay. However, what kind of impact will these changing trends have on the UK property market?
Local transport networks
Since time and memorial we know that access to local transport networks has been an integral part of the UK property market. Acquiring a property within easy commuting distance to your workplace has been top of the list for many looking to acquire that dream home. However, is this changing? Will access to local transport networks play such a major part in the employment market going forward?
There are two things to take into consideration here. We do have a changing UK employment market, more employers are now looking to work from home and employers are more open to the idea. Indeed there is every chance that once the coronavirus pandemic is “under control” that many insurance companies/providers of finance will encourage employers, and employees, to change their working practices – or at least have more flexible backup plans in place.
Then we have the recent trend in home offices which seems to have gained traction during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. A recent report by Zoopla suggested that going forward 27% of those looking to acquire a new property will be looking for a ready-made home office.
Might we see more equal demand for property across the country?
We know from research in the past that there is so-called “hotspot” across the UK where prices have been pushed to relatively high levels because of their access to local transport links. When you also tie this in with the need for many parents to access quality schooling for their children it can create a potent mix. So, it stands to reason that if the long-term commuting habits of UK workers were to change then demand for hotspot properties would surely reduce?
Historically the UK property market is very difficult to predict, relatively “set in its ways” but the coronavirus pandemic seems to have prompted a number of changes. Whether this will have any real impact on demand for property in so-called “hotspot” close to commuting routes remains to be seen. There is certainly scope for change, many employers and employees have had a wake-up call but the UK property market history is littered with such “obvious changes” which never came to fruition.
Spare a thought for private landlords
The next few years will see some major challenges for the UK property market with a raft of buy to let investors/private landlords now struggling. Many private landlords have focused on properties in commuting distance to large employment markets and often paid a premium for the privilege. Will they be impacted in the short, medium or longer term?
The history of the UK property market is littered with expected changes in purchasing trends but nothing anywhere remotely as challenging as the coronavirus pandemic. Will we really see demand for commuting hotspots begin to fade? Are we really on the verge of a huge change in employment patterns which would see more people working from home? Time will tell……