The race for space: Housing market trends that are here to stay

Paul Hackett

Buyers and renters’ priorities have changed, so how do developers, planners and policy-makers respond in the long term?

Covid-19 has had a substantial impact on consumer behaviour. From the early rush to buy toilet paper to the huge growth in online shopping, few areas of consumer behaviour have remained unchanged since the onset of the pandemic. From a business perspective the challenge is to work out which of these changes are fleeting and which are here to stay. Is an emerging trend a short-lived fad, or the start of something much longer-lasting and therefore worth planning for?

We’ve certainly seen clear signs of changed consumer demand in the housing market. Demand for suburban and rural properties has risen steeply, especially for those with three or four bedrooms. For many prospective buyers a garden is now a deal-breaker rather than a nice-to-have.

Those wishing to rent are also seeking out new locations. Previously sought-after locations such as Earl’s Court in west London have seen demand plummet, while interest has grown in areas in outer London and beyond. Some estate agents have reported an increase in demand for ground-floor flats or apartments, previously the hardest to let, but now more sought after given they tend to come with an outdoor terrace.

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