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From the people who move you: Guy Robinson

Let’s face it; the past twelve months have been a challenge at best for many people. The onset of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns turned the way we live, work and socialise upside down. Even twelve months on and with restrictions being eased, many still question whether life will ever be the same. But some might ask whether we want it to be the same. While it has been a difficult time, the past twelve months have given most – me included - time to reflect on how we actually live versus how we want to live. Whether our home doesn’t now meet our new needs, we want to live closer to family, or even if we now want to enjoy flexible working patterns, our learnings from 2020 will influence decisions on how we want to live post the pandemic. Here I wanted to share what I have learnt over the past 12 months, both professionally and personally, and explain what I would like to keep doing even when normality resumes.

For starters, I have been able to view where I live in a way I have never done so before. Having lived in Windsor for the past 20 years or so, I would have happily said I had seen it all and knew it like the back of my hand before last year.

I had happily lived in the routine that suited my family and me for years and would have continued to do so. And while I was lucky enough to work remotely throughout the lockdown, I did find myself with more time to spend with my family by clawing back the time that would have typically been spent commuting into London.

As a result, I found myself taking walks before the work-day began with my dogs Max & Otto and bike rides with my daughter over my lunchtime. I have been able to enjoy places I have never been to before simply because we weren’t able to go elsewhere.

There has also been a stronger sense of community on my street, and I have come to know my neighbours better than before. Whether it was helping the elderly neighbours make sure they had their weekly shop or clapping for the NHS on a Thursday, the past year has brought our local community closer together. While I am sure I will continue to commute back to the office, I am thankful that I have been able to use this experience to enjoy more about where I live and get to know my local community.

While our house luckily was able to function as a family home, school, and office, many were not so fortunate and decided that it was time to move when the property market was open again. As someone who has worked as an estate agent for many years, I have come to recognise what motivates and influences the people we work for when it comes to buying and selling homes. But with the last year changing life for so many, I have witnessed first-hand how people’s new motivations for moving, wants, and needs can vastly differ from person to person.

This has been reflected in the findings of our Life Moves, The Next Chapter magazine – our research that asked what people wanted from a new home. While there have been many headlines in the press around how people have escaped to the country in search of more space, commutability and community remain key factors in property buying. Instead of wanting to go and live off-grid, people want to feel part of a community, which has been reflected in the results of our research.

The extra rooms that provide additional functionality were also highlighted with a guest bedroom or a utility room named the most desirable. This is followed by having a downstairs toilet/cloakroom or an en-suite, suggesting that people want homes that can accommodate when family and friends can visit again.

When thinking about work, many would argue that the last significant innovation in the property industry was the introduction of the likes of the portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market that digitised the way we search for a new home. But the onset of the pandemic also drove innovation forward overnight.

While we were one of the first agents to offer virtual tours before the pandemic, the demand for this type of viewing went through the roof when we went into lockdown. It has changed how we initially want to scope out potential properties without leaving our sofa, and I imagine that this will continue to be the norm. But behind the scenes, what struck me was how our teams were able to change how they worked when we were stepping into the great unknown.

Many will be able to look back at the past year and surprise themselves with how we have adapted and grown in the face of uncertainty. Its people are always the most significant asset any business has, and I am impressed by how well we have all coped over the past twelve months.

Therefore thinking about all of this, the key learning for me from the past twelve months is how impressive we are as humans and how we have been doing things that we didn’t think were possible. I believe that this strength and resilience will impact our lives for years to come and bodes well for the next chapter.


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