Urban versus rural property investments

The Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to a number of interesting property investment trends. The desirability of the countryside for residential investments is one such example.

Over the past year, Britons have had to obey lockdown and social distancing rules. City and town centres have been deserted. Meanwhile, remote working has become far more common. As a result, some have claimed that urban areas have lost their appeal. And instead, homebuyers and investors are said to be buying properties in rural areas. But is this true?

To explore this trend in more detail, we have surveyed 1,282 homeowners and homebuyers in the UK. You can find all the results in our new report: The Homebuyer Wishlist 2021.

Outdoor space is key

Our research asked homebuyers about the most important qualities they look for when buying UK property. When we compare the results to the same survey we ran in 2019, we see that people’s property priorities have indeed changed.  The 2021 top three results:

  1. We found that a garden or outdoor space is now the most sought-after feature, with 92% saying this is ‘important’ or ‘very important’.
  2. Dropping down to second on the list was the square footage of the house or flat. This was followed by the broadband connectivity, the quality of the finish, and whether there are parks nearby.
  3. Decent internet connection came in third. The pandemic has made gardens, good broadband, and parks all more desirable. As people are now spending more time in their homes and local areas, including for work, these trends make sense. And this suggests that rural areas might have become more popular in the short-term, as there is the potential to buy properties with larger indoor and outdoor space for the same price as something smaller in a city.

Home improvements on the rise

The survey also delved into the minds of current homeowners. For example, 34% told us that the pandemic has changed their view on what they want and need from their property.

But only 17% said they had thought about changing where they live due to the rise of remote working. Just under a quarter had felt inspired to move to the countryside during the pandemic. This shows us that a vast majority of homebuyers and property investors are not getting caught up in the supposed exodus to the countryside.

Instead, many people are looking to make the most of what they already have. 42% of homeowners said they had undertaken home improvements in the past year. This was more common among property owners in London (47%).
We have seen a sharp rise in the number of clients seek bridging loans for property improvements during the pandemic. Conversions, extensions and renovations became more popular, and short-term loans can help investors to finance such projects. Investors can also visit one of our blog pieces that contains tips for all sorts of residential refurbishment works.

Appeal of cities to return

Lockdown rules have slowly been lifted in the UK over the past two months. On 21 June, all restrictions are due to be removed.

This transition means that shops, pubs, cafés, bars and restaurants have been, or will be able, to fully reopen as normal. The same can be said of cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries and gyms. As such venues open their doors once again, the appeal of urban areas will likely become stronger once again. So, whilst the increased interest in investing in rural property has been a notable trend during the pandemic, it is not clear if this trend will continue in the months to come.

At MFS, we are seeing strong interest in bridging loans for property investments in London. With demand rising, now could be the opportune time for investors to consider purchasing property. In these instances, a bridge loan can prove vital. Funds can be issued in a matter of days, meaning a purchase can complete without mortgage delays.

If you or your clients are looking to invest in property, get in touch today. our team can provide more information about your bridging finance options and the process in general.

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