Close proximity to good schooling is the key driver for those looking to purchase property, according to national estate agents Jackson-Stops & Staff, which identified the current top five trends in the market from across its 44 offices nationwide.
Commutability and the rise of the home office, the desire to own a contemporary property, and second home purchases with a view to moving permanently are also among the key trends. In London, some buyers wish to cash in on the value gap and move to the country, although this is not as pronounced as in the past with more and more wanting to keep a foothold in the capital.
Discussing the importance of proximity to good schools for potential buyers, Quentin Jackson-Stops, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Northampton office, says: “More and more children are flexiboarding at traditional prep schools, with parents targeting nearby villages.”
Jackson-Stops & Staff offices in Teddington, Weybridge, Newbury, Winchester, Sevenoaks, Canterbury, Wilmslow and Exeter expect to continue to see an increased demand for good family houses as close as possible to good private and highly regarded state schools. This impact is particularly pronounced in certain areas, such as fashionable Hale village in Cheshire, where Altrincham Grammar School has a powerful effect on local property prices as entrance is dependent on living within the catchment area.
Commutability, combined with the ability to work remotely from home, also ranks highly on the list. Areas like Canterbury and Rochester have been slow to benefit from the high speed rail service into London but coupled with excellent schools, have now seen a marked increase in buyers and this trend is likely to continue.
On the West Sussex/Hampshire borders, the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel has had an almost immediate impact on demand for period houses in the pretty villages either side of the A3 corridor, as the journey time to London has been reduced significantly.
Philip Blanchard, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Winchester office, says: “Buyers are particularly attracted by the one hour commute to London and with the rise of the home office, they can spend more time at home in tranquil surroundings.”
In Newbury and Goring, the prospect of Crossrail and the electrification of the western line are important factors on influencing major growths in values in the area, according to Tim Sherston, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Newbury and Goring offices.
The desire to own a contemporary property ranks third among top trends in the market, as an increasing number of buyers seek out the benefits that such properties can bring. Cheaper to maintain and more economical to run, these homes, which range from bespoke Grand Designs style builds to period-style modern houses, are increasingly finding favour.
New build houses, between £2m and £5m, in popular locations are selling well, says Crispin Harris, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Wilmslow office.
Tim Firth, Director of Jackson-Stops & Staff Weybridge, reports similar activity in Surrey. He comments: “New homes up to £5m are still proving to be highly desirable across North Surrey and Weybridge, Esher, Cobham and Oxshott. Buyers are highly selective about what they want to see at certain price points, with a cinema room a must-have for £2m plus. Lateral space is also highly coveted.”
Planning for the future is a key part of property ownership and buying a second home as an investment, with a view to retirement, also ranks highly among current property trends. This is particularly prevalent in the south-west, where a significant number of apartments built along the coast in Newquay have gone to second home owners.
Louisa Hooper, Head of the Land and New Homes department at Jackson-Stops & Staff Exeter, says: “Lifestyle buyers, who are downsizing or looking for a second home, tend to seek high specification, energy-efficient, low maintenance properties close to the sea or the moors. Some buyers will buy to let in the short term or use as a holiday home until they are ready to make the move from the family home.”
The traditional holiday villages in North Cornwall, along the South Coast, the Suffolk Coast and in North Norfolk remain popular although, as with all property outside London, the market is very price sensitive. The new Jackson-Stops & Staff Burnham Market office in North Norfolk continues to experience considerable demand for second homes, fuelled mainly by London and Northern home counties’ purchasers mortgaging their main London residences.
Commenting on the London market, Nicholas Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops & Staff, says: “Some London owners will want to cash in on the value of their properties and move to the country but the majority of these will want to buy around the commuter hubs in the South and South-east, with good transport links to the capital. The London effect is not as pronounced as in the past as longer working hours and concerns over losing a foothold on the London property market increase.”