Demand for rural homes drops as pandemic trend fades

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In April 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, 46.6% of people in employment did some work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics

Demand for rural homes in Britain dropped as the pandemic trend of relocating to the countryside faded, according to real estate website Zoopla.

Enquiries for properties in areas of Kent dropped by 0.5% in 2022 compared to the five-year average. In the wider Lake District national park area, demand dipped 5% compared to the same period, and in mid-Wales it fell 10%.

In April 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, 46.6% of people in employment did some work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics. That figure rose to 57.2% in London, and there was an exodus from bustling urban areas as people sought leafy towns and coastal villages instead.

Since the pandemic began in spring 2020, buyers – freed from the daily office commute – have been casting their home-searching nets further afield, Zoopla’s Executive Director of Research Richard Donnell said in a press release.

Most people who started working from home during the coronavirus pandemic plan to work both at home and in an office going forward, according to the ONS data, and many companies have mandated a return to the workplace, which appears to have caused a pivot in the housing market.

The dynamics that have shaped the housing market over the last 5 years are shifting. We expect affordable urban centres to fare better than average in 2023, Donnell said.

The cost-of-living crisis has also contributed to the shift. Apartments are cheaper to run from an energy perspective, and on average, U.K. houses are more than twice the price of an apartment — the highest in 20 years, according to Zoopla.

Urban areas also tend to offer more employment opportunities.

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