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Housing trends in 2021: a year in review

Where do we want our homes to be and what do we want our homes to look like? How many bedrooms do we need? What about gardens, offices, and playrooms? These are the types of questions that our annual Housing Futures survey has asked since 2013 as we seek to understand the home aspirations of people across the UK, and strive to answer questions around how we want to live now and how will we be living in the future.

As we come to the end of this year and look forward to the New Year, we take a look at the key housing trends that shaped 2021.

What have we focused on in Life Moves: The Next Chapter publication?

This year’s publication Life Moves: The Next Chapter has hopefully provided you with a snapshot of our latest survey analysis as we looked to explore:

  • What drives decision making when looking for a new home?
  • Enduring urban appeal
  • Can we expect a commuter reboot?
  • Rise of the conscious community
  • Building tomorrow
  • Generations who rent

What trends did we find?

The Housing Futures survey has allowed us to pick up on the trends impacting our daily home lives over the past eight years. Our survey uncovered new trends, these included:

  • Gen Y (also known as Millennials, those born between 1978 and 1995) will be willing to live in the private rented sector for longer, if not for their lifetime.
  • Future housing types and location decisions are being transformed by access to technology.
  • Traditional family structures are no longer the norm, and there is a resurgence in alternative housing needs.
  • Living alone is becoming more common. Of the 43% of respondents who stated they were currently single and planning to move in the next five years, 75% anticipated staying in a single-person household.

Are there new housing solutions available to house movers?

This led to us exploring new housing solutions, such as:

  • Healthy Eating Active Living - whether through minimising toxins in the air through low-VOC paint or through access to outdoor space, or allotments.
  • Micro Mansions – If you can imagine a well fitted out yacht, then envision it on dry land and shrunk to the size of no more than 250sqft and that is a micro mansion. It is for those who prioritise location over space.
  • Platinum Places – These are the new mixed age and tenure communities with good access to amenities that are part of a town/edge of city that broadly, but not exclusively, support those seeking to downsize.

What was the impact of COVID-19 on house buying decisions?

We of course, had not foreseen the impact of the global health pandemic of COVID-19 but the subsequent lockdowns and changes in lifestyle did give us time to reflect on the impact that the pandemic was having on us as individuals and our housing needs.

As a result, we did see some surprising headlines:

  • 30% were not planning to move before the pandemic but since had made the decision to move. Our first indications of the housing market getting the kick start last year once the housing market was re-opened.
  • The motivations behind people moving had shifted from the traditional reasons (finance, lifestyle, location and demographics) to completely new drivers including: technology, community, environment and mobility.
  • Between the inception of our survey in 2013 to our most recent findings, broadband connectivity has risen as an important motivation when moving from 48% to 64%. Perhaps not surprising considering the reliance on digital connectivity we have come to expect in our homes.
  • Over the same time period, we also saw the growth in desire to be close to family and friends, with a rise from 37% to 66%, reduced running costs growing from 41% to 70%, and access to public transport increasing from 37% to 64%. These changes indicate a growing need for community and a recognition of the climate change challenges impacting our daily lives.

What’s the ideal home?

The ideal home across the nation was a three-bedroom, detached house that had a conventional room layout and living space with a small private garden. The desired extras inside the home were a utility room and a guest bedroom. And on the themes of the environment and technology, sought after sustainable features included double glazing, high levels of insulation and smart thermostats; whilst sought after tech features included smart leak detectors, smart lighting, smart door locks, smart smoke/monitoring detectors and energy monitors.

Where people want to live

Perhaps not surprising in light of the experiences many had during the pandemic that villages, the coast and rural settings were the most desired locations, which people desired to move to over the next five years.

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To find out more about Strutt & Parker research click here.

Strutt & Parker is at the forefront of property and has the privilege of engaging with the complete life cycle of the housing sector. From the house builders, planners, local government, investors, developers, operators, to our residential estate agents helping our clients, to buy, sell and rent the home of their dreams. Interested in buying a new home, find out more about the properties available here.


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