Property: Flats making a ‘much-needed comeback’ as demand switches back to city locations

Property: Phil Spencer discusses the current market for 2021

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Demand for flats and apartments is once again increasing as Britons head back to cities as lockdown restrictions ease. Online property portal Rightmove has said that flats are now the most in-demand type of property for the first time in 10 years.

Throughout the pandemic, buyers had avoided moving into flats after spending the majority of time at home resulted in people wanting more space.

However, a study by Rightmove today shows that the demand for flats, apartments and city centre locations is returning.

According to the company, buyer interest for flats is up 39 percent since January.

With many Britons returning to work in city centres and many wanting the buzz of a central location, demand for city-centre housing has risen by 35 percent.

This compares to a 32 percent rise in demand for housing in villages.

The Office for National Statistics also said prices of detached houses rose by 11.7 percent in the year to March, compared to just 5 percent for flats and maisonettes.

Rightmove’s director of property data, Tim Bannister said: “These are early signs but they certainly point to some food news for city centres across Great Britain, with a number of agents now telling me they’ve seen a marked uptick in demand from first-time buyers.

“People starting to venture into their local high streets and once again expecting the buzz of their city centres, along with greater mortgage availability for first-time buyers, means city centres are staging a much-needed comeback.

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“Right now some buyers are able to grab a relative city bargain compared to heady price growth outside cities, but these are early signs of demand could be the start of city prices rising again.”

With lockdown restrictions easing and places like restaurants reopen, Britons are once again returning to central locations.

The survey also added that the property market has seen a boom thanks to the help from finance minister Rishi Sunak.

The stamp duty holiday, which was first introduced in July last year, is now due to come to an end in September this year.

Homeowners taking advantage of the tax relief could see them save thousands on their new home.

The finance minister also announced a new mortgage guarantee scheme for first-time buyers who cannot afford to put large deposits down.

A recent Rightmove survey of more than 1,000 first-time buyers found nearly one in five are planning to use the mortgage guarantee scheme or are already using it.

Andy McHugo, associate director at James Laurence estate agents in Birmingham said:” Not only are inquiry levels fantastic, committed residential buyers are now returning.

“The dynamic may have changed slightly, so apartments with balconies or terrace are proving popular, as are those with room for a home office, a second and third bedroom for example.”

According to Rightmove last year, online searches for properties in remote or coastal locations sharply increased.

With working from home now becoming a norm for many, London saw a huge decrease in residents, with the price of an average home dipping by 1.4 percent.

Shetland Isles, Sandbanks, St.Davids and South Devon were among the most popular locations for people viewing properties following the first UK lockdown.

At the time, Rightmove’s housing market analyst Miles Shipside said: “People often use Rightmove to daydream, so it’s not surprising to see some of the search areas on the up being the most expensive in the UK.

“The beautiful areas in the far north in the list are likely a mixture of people daydreaming of living somewhere more remote, and those seriously thinking about changing their lifestyle after lockdown.”

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