The UK rental market has proved resilient, with emergent trends indicating buyer behaviour orientated towards developments that incorporate amenities such as outdoor space, soundproofing, work-from-home (WFH) space and bike storage.
Rightmove searches by renters looking for a garden doubled in comparison to the first week of lockdown. This is an increase of 26 per cent relative to the same week in 2019, and a 16 per cent increase relative to the average experienced in January and February 2020. For these tenants, outdoor space is a primary concern, and homes with a balcony or terrace have sustained significant uplifts in buyers’ attention.
As of mid-June, Savills has been experiencing a marked increase in demand evinced by a 42 rise in new applicants relative to the same time last year, 55 per cent higher than average level’s pre-lockdown. Regarding prime London rental properties, 79 per cent of Savills agents report greater buyer expectations with respect to WFH facilities including strong WIFI and separate space.
These findings are aligned with surveys across the market which allude to shifting property requirement priorities amongst buyers. In the capital, parking and/or garage facilities remains a significant attraction, whilst the availability of (and/or proximity to) services and amenities including shops, supermarkets, gyms and swimming - ranks very highly amongst buyer concerns.
A key new trend that has emerged post-lockdown is soaring demand for bike storage, with providers such as the property rental app Movebubble seeing searches rise by 1500 per cent since lockdown began. Given the recent push by the government to encourage cycling, including NHS GPs now being able to prescribe cycling in a new obesity strategy, this is a trend supported by a number of vantage points. Behaviourally there is an increasing public propensity to abstain from using public transport in favour of safer alternatives, tenants craving security for their bicycles will continue to factor this into their selection criteria.
As tenants recalibrate their requirements post-lockdown, savvy developers and rental providers that incorporate these emergent trends will be best placed to satisfy shifting rental demands.
With many people working from home during the lockdown period, a desire for more inside space has increased. Across prime London and the commuter zone, 79% of Savills agents reported an increase in demand for properties with a separate space to work from home.