Property News

Home buying: Energy efficiency and outside space now topping the list

Proximity to a train station has slipped down the pecking order

Working from home has had an enormous impact on what buyers want from their ideal future house or apartment, with the trend set to continue into 2021.

To find out what UK homebuyers are searching for the most, online property portal Share to Buy has analysed Google search data across all the most common property features with the biggest year-on-year (Y-o-Y) search growth in 2020.

Must-have house features ranked

Energy-efficient136%
Roof terrace54%
Double-glazing46%
Balcony41%
Garden38%
Garage31%
Carpeted30%
Pet-friendly26%
Home office space25%
Fast broadband19%
Tiled18%
Patio space15%
Annex15%

Least-searched house features

The following searches have declined Y-o-Y:

Near the train34%
Central heating32%
Parking space31%
Double garage17%
White goods included13%
Driveway8%
Secure4%

According to the analysis by Share to Buy, searches for properties with energy-efficient setups, home office space (which I referred to in an earlier post) and access to fresh air are taking centre stage, highlighting the increasing importance of combined home and work life for homebuyers. Fast internet is also a massive consideration as technology and remote work plays a more significant role at home than ever before.

This year, demand for energy-efficiency tops the list as the most sought-after property feature. As more people work from home for the long haul, buyers are searching for new builds, apartments and houses that can save them hundreds of pounds a year in energy bills.

Lockdown has promoted interest in outside terracing and balconies

The trend has been on the rise for a few years, with reports showing that younger homebuyers are willing to pay more for energy-efficient starter homes. Lockdown has accelerated the trend as more people look for long-term savings, placing it at the top of the list for more potential buyers than ever before.

Lockdown has seen more people desperate to increase access to outdoor spaces and fresh air without travelling, and many are looking for long-term solutions for potential future lockdowns. Access to a roof terrace is the second most popular sought-after feature on our list this year, while searches have skyrocketed for homes with balconies, patios and garden space.

Searches for properties with extra space and home office space is another major trend. Several companies have already introduced permanent flexible working, enabling more people to revaluate where they live. Commuters typically factor in transport access when looking for a house, but this year searches for a property close to train stations nosedived as more people plan for long-term home working.

While searches for pet-friendly homes is consistently high, this year the trend has seen a considerable jump as more people got new puppies and kittens to keep them company while working from home.

Commenting on the analysis, Nick Lieb, head of operations at Share to Buy says: “One of the biggest things to consider when buying a house is whether it has the features you need to make it your dream home, and we’ve seen a huge shift in what people need and want this year as we spend more time at home than ever before. Whether its city dwellers eyeing up a country home or those searching for affordable London apartments and shared ownership properties, it’s clear across the board that we’re all looking for ways to make our home lives more efficient and comfortable right now. There’s also a bigger appreciation for green spaces and fresh air as we look to maximise our living spaces.” 

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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