homes after covid-19

UK-wide survey reveals how Covid-19 has changed our perception of home

Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it, and one of its particular consequences is that it has made it shrink. From commuting to the office, working out at the gym, to socialising with friends at the pub, our world has become smaller. Home is where everything happens now.

As a result, we ran a UK-wide survey to explore how the ‘new normal’ has affected people’s perception of their homes. From house satisfaction and moving out plans to safety attitudes, We’ve discovered the UK’s needs and future plans have drastically changed, and it can all be traced back to our houses and how we feel about them.

 

Over 50% of people are unhappy with their homes

It’s hard to believe we’ve been living with the pandemic for a year now. We’ve become Zoom experts, Deliveroo regulars and even PE teachers! But these restrictions have made our needs change, making us realise that our homes were never built for this new reality.

We asked people whether their views of their homes had changed due to the ‘stay at home’ restrictions. Over half (53%) answered they now felt unsatisfied with their properties, with 13% even saying that they had realised they didn’t like their house anymore. Having “everyone trapped in the same house”, as one of our respondents put it, is making existing house issues more prominent but also creating new ones. Noisy neighbours, for example, have become a big factor of discomfort and open plan houses, which might have been attractive in the past, were now listed as a problem by several respondents due to feeling “samesy” and lack of private space. But the strongest remark on our survey was related to space: “There’s nothing I like of this house, it’s too small and we need to move ASAP”.

On the other hand, it was interesting to see that 9% of people felt happier now with their homes than before lockdown. For some, this was due to a sense of gratitude towards their homes and being aware of the potential issues they had avoided: “I love every aspect of my house and I’m glad my children have separate rooms” pointed out a participant.

Pie chart showing house satisfaction after pandemic restrictions

City dwellers are more likely to be unhappy with their houses

There’s been a clear difference on how the pandemic has affected house satisfaction across urban and rural areas. Before the pandemic, many city dwellers would choose their homes based on location and convenience. With so many places to see and career opportunities to pursue, people were more open to compromise on house size. Now, being pushed to spend most of the time at home, the lack of space and nature around them is making them less satisfied than their rural neighbours.

Our survey uncovered that 54% of people living in large cities do not feel satisfied with their homes compared to 41% living in rural areas. But the biggest differences can be found in the extremes. Urbanites are two times more likely to “not like their house anymore” due to the pandemic; while the fresh air, the sun and the space make countrymen twice more likely to “like their house now more than before”.

Bar chart showing how house perception varies depending on rural and urban areas

 

Kitchens and small gardens are the main sources of house dissatisfaction

All respondents were asked what specific details were the largest causes of dissatisfaction. Overall, 17% pointed out the issue of ‘space’. The following word cloud summarises the responses.World cloud of house parts that have caused the most issues

Adding to the concept of space, people are craving to enjoy the outdoors, and therefore, one of the most popular reasons for unhappiness was not having a garden, but even having one didn’t guarantee a good lockdown period.“Our garden is small, not private and doesn’t get much sunshine” mentioned one of our respondents.

On the other hand, being obliged to live inside, and in many cases having to share our private spaces with family members, has put special pressure on toilets and kitchens. The kitchen was the main source of dissatisfaction, mentioned by 12% of our participants. One of the main reasons for this is that, with lockdown, they are being used for so much more than cooking. One of our respondents explained “we use the kitchen table for homeschooling, but there needs to be more room so it’s not as stressful“. With the whole household stuck inside, the demand for the toilet has increased, and 9% of our participants were feeling it: “Having only one toilet for a family of six has been the worst part of lockdown!”.

We also asked what house features people were most grateful for and, although the biggest finding was that 30% of answers pointed at having a garden, the fact that 2.5% mentioned their family (even though it doesn’t really qualify as house feature) made us happy. This is how being with our loved ones has brightened our days in a simple way:

  • “I like having more family meals and games nights”
  • “I really enjoy the living room as it reunites the family” 
  • “I am most grateful for spending most of my time with my family”.

 

One third of people have considered moving out due to the pandemic

With half of the population feeling dissatisfied with their homes, people have started to look for solutions. So it is no surprise that almost a third of our respondents (32%) confessed they had considered moving out due to the pandemic. Maybe hoping to leave their pre-Covid houses for spacious, restriction-ready properties.

With space (or rather the lack of it) being one of the biggest problems in the new reality, it is only natural that we are in the presence of a country-wide migration from the city to rural areas, where the value for money for every square meter is much higher. Our survey revealed that, from those who had considered moving, 35% wanted to live in a smaller area.

To be fair, living in the countryside right now does sound quite idyllic. We were really jealous when our village respondents told us that, during the restrictions, they had been most grateful for their “large garden and beautiful views from every window” or “having 12 barns and 20 acres of pasture” to explore.

Pie chart showing people's preference to what sort of area they'd like to move nextHybrid working may be another contributing factor to this migration. According to the BBC, UK employers expect the proportion of regular home workers to double after restrictions are lifted. Our data also supports that the anticipated flexibility is making people reconsider their commutes, facilitating living in more rural areas. 41% of our respondents were willing to add 30 minutes onto their commute if they could split working from home and form the office, while 15% would even be happy to add between 1-2 hours.

 

54% of people want to move to a house with a garden

homes after covid-19
We then asked our participants what were the most desirable features they were looking for in their next house. Once again, space was the most popular answer. More than half of the people agreed both, internal and external space were the most important factors.

However, there was a specific house feature that got the spotlight: the garden. Nearly one third of people mentioned it as the home part they’ve been most grateful for during the pandemic. So there is no wonder why the demand for spacious and well-kept gardens has rocketed. Estate agents agree that it has become a “deal-breaker” and prices for houses with a garden have hit a 4 year high.

Bar chart showing house features in demand after Covid-19

Another big consequence of the pandemic restrictions is the desire to be around the people we love. 37% of respondents considered being closer to their family and friends as a key aspect of their future house. This was the most important factor after those directly related to having more space. Seeing our loved ones can be especially important for those that have been pushed by the pandemic to feel “lonely and bored, living alone” as one of our respondents.

Interestingly, having a home office ranked higher than having leisure focussed space such as a home gym or game room. However, it does seem that not having a designated working area is a common cause of frustration. “I can not use my dining room to eat as my partner works there and is on calls 24/7” explained a participant. Although issues may arise even if you live alone “My dining room has an ample enough study desk, but without any natural light I’ve had to move to the less comfortable living room“.

 

Concerns over safety could be stopping sales right now

While 32% of the people had considered moving due to the pandemic, only one third of them had the intention to follow through. But why?

An important factor contributing to this could be the inherent hassle that comes from selling a house. This sentiment was echoed by our respondents, who felt that buying a home is the second most stressful life event, only surpassed by having a baby. But amongst the difficulties around selling, buying and moving, the impact of Covid-19 has also made things seemingly harder.

Respondents were asked to rank the most important factors of selling a home, in light of the pandemic. While price still feels the most important, a guaranteed sale came second, more important than fees or friendly estate agents. The growing importance of a secure sale, with no breakdowns, could be the reason why Fast Property Buyers have risen in popularity to become the third most preferred option for selling a house in 2021. Their service reduces uncertainty while being proceedable buyers means no risky viewings are required. A very attractive selling option for these unprecedented times.

Bar chart showing important factors when selling a house

A year ago no one would have considered safety as an important variable when selling a house. But the world has changed and safety has become the third most important element to consider when selling a house. Overall, 42% of people surveyed didn’t think selling a house during the pandemic is safe. Some respondents showed real appreciation for the little details keeping them safe: “I am happy with my double doors, they keep me protected from Covid-19”. There was also a clear relation between age and feeling unsafe. Nearly half (48%) of over 45s said they wouldn’t feel safe selling a house now, while only 39% of the younger, low-risk generations felt this way.

Bar chart showing safety perception by age

People are spending more money on their houses since the pandemic started

The UK’s population is not one to sit idle. Once the option of moving out was discarded, they took a look at their homes and decided to invest in their indoor happiness. According to the Bank of England, household savings have risen substantially since the beginning of the pandemic. With no pubs, commutes or events to spend money on, it has been easier to direct our financial muscle towards our homes.

59% of those surveyed had spent more money in their house since the beginning of the pandemic. And the higher the income, the more likely to have increased spend on their homes. This was particularly noticeable from respondents with salaries over £70k, with more than 80% confessing they had hopped onto this trend.

Bar chart showing that house spend has increased since the pandemic

People earning over £45k per year are more likely to be unhappy with their home during lockdown

An interesting finding of the survey was that money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness. While people with salaries over £70k were able to spend more on their home during restrictions, higher-income households were more likely to feel dissatisfied with their homes. While 48% of those earning under £45k felt this way, 54% of people with incomes higher than £45k felt unhappy about their properties. “The lack of space for homeschooling and work has been the biggest issue, new carpets would be nice too” said a participant.

 

TVs and entertainment are the best lockdown investments

With so much time in our hands, we started looking at new and better ways of entertaining ourselves. As reported by the BBC, the people in the UK are spending 31% more time watching TV than in 2019. So it makes sense that, when asked what had been the most satisfying covid-purchase, electronics were the most popular answer with 9% of respondents pointing at their new Flat TVs, phones and gaming consoles.

Bar chart showing safety perception by age

With entertainment sorted, people turned to upgrade their gardens. From adding new plants to installing a shed, there’s been a real focus on turning this part of the house into a haven of beauty and peace. Furthermore, with gardens becoming ‘deal breakers’ for many homeowners, improving your garden helps to improve your present and future.

However, not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden to enjoy. And even if you do, you will still spend most of your time indoors. This explains why redecorating and improving bedrooms and living areas were the third most popular purchase. For many, redecorating was an escape from the monotony and boredom of lockdown, as put by one of our respondents “feeling like you are always in the same room“.

 

In conclusion

The pandemic restrictions over the past year have made everyone reimagine what home means and what it needs to provide.

With half of respondents unhappy with their homes, it could lead to a redesign of what the modern home will look like and cater for. Particularly, with the desire for more space, we may see fewer people living in cities, while smaller towns become a more popular choice.

When this change will happen is not certain. While incentives such as the Stamp Duty Holiday have been created, many are not comfortable selling during the Covid-19 period. A downside to this is that it may result in people stuck in a home that doesn’t make them happy.

This could lead to a more innovative housing market, with less intrusive ways to buy, such as virtual viewings, that can make the process of selling a house faster and safer.

Modern living room from a house for sale by iBuyers

With the rise of businesses going online, you now have more options than ever to sell your home. From estate agents portals like Rightmove or Zoopla to more traditional routes like the open market or property auctions.

In recent times, there has been a new property trend emerging, that of ‘iBuyers’. Originating in the United States, it is beginning to take pace here in the UK. Here, we’ll look at what an iBuyer is, how they work, and more importantly, is it right for you if you’re looking to sell your house fast?

 

What is an iBuyer?

In simple terms, the word ‘iBuyer’ is a combination of ‘instant’ and ‘buyer’. These are high-tech businesses with considerable financial resources that specialise in buying and selling homes quickly. They use algorithms and market trends to provide an “accurate market value offer” for your property in around 24 hours. And, because they are proceedable buyers, they can buy the property quickly without the hassle of viewings or the involvement of estate agents.

In exchange for a fast and convenient sale at “market value”, they charge a service fee that ranges between 6-9% of the property’s price, which is higher than the traditional estate agent fee. It must also be noted that their cash offers, despite their use of data science, tend to be slightly below the open market’s average price. Remember that your property’s worth is not a fixed amount of money defined by one unique buyer, as we’ve discussed in the past, your house is worth the price any buyer is willing to pay for it and you are happy to accept.

So a property worth £200,000 in the open market, might get an offer from an iBuyer of £197,400, from which you would need to deduce an 8% fee, leaving your total price at £181,608 (without including additional costs).

 

How does an iBuyer work?

Woman relaxing in a property she just bought from iBuyers

Selling to an iBuyer

Just as with Vivo, the journey of selling your house starts by answering a few simple questions about your property, and you will receive a no-obligation offer in around one day. Your offer will take into account details your provide such as:

  • House address
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Age of property
  • Location

iBuyers’ technology will compile this information and combine it with data of your neighbourhood’s market value to come up with an “accurate cash offer”.

If you decide to go forward, they will then send a surveyor to verify your property’s condition and adjust the cash offer according to what they see. This could lead to repair costs that will impact their final offer. However, any required repairs will be done after you have left the house, staying true to their hassle-free promise.

Finally, once you decide you are happy with the adjustments, you’ll close the sale which will include your final price (their cash offer adjusted after the in-home survey minus their service fee) and you’ll agree to a moving out date.

You can purchase iBuyer properties too

iBuyers also sell the properties they buy. Similar to traditional estate agents, you will find a listing of properties for sale you when browsing their website. These include properties they’ve purchased and properties advertised by third parties.

The properties they own will be advertised with some sort of perk. For example, Opendoor offers virtual self-tours so you can pop into any of their houses whenever you want by using their app. And they will also facilitate buying any property through their portal by helping you with financial benefits. Offerpad, for example, offers up to £1,000 towards closing costs, and Zillow has its own home loan service.

You can trade-in your property to an iBuyer

Just as you can trade your car or a mobile phone for a newer model, iBuyers can offer a property-related version. As they are a hybrid between buyers and sellers, you can use an iBuyer to sell your home initially, and then use the funds for one of their available properties

If you are interested in trading in your house, all you have to do is let the iBuyer know and ask for a cash offer. Once you know how much you can afford you can browse through their listings and find your new house.

Trading your house is quite convenient as it means you can skip the stress of double viewings, double moves and double mortgages.

Pros and Cons of selling to an iBuyer

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Pros

  • Quick – Selling to an iBuyer is faster than selling in the open market. You’ll normally get a cash offer in 24h and you’ll be able to sell in as little as 14 days.
  • Hassle-Free – Their process is not only faster but also simpler. With an iBuyer you will skip viewings, price negotiations, repairs and getting your house ready for potential buyers, making the sale hassle-free
  • Trading in – a lot of buyers are engaged in property chains, being unable to buy a property unless they sell their current one. This is an obstacle that often slows down negotiations and can lead to house sales falling through. iBuyers trading service solves this chronic issue in the housing market.
  • Security – These companies are well funded and won’t have any problem to pay for your property once the deal is closed.
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Cons

  • High Fees – iBuyers make most of their profit through fees, which range from 6 to 9% of the property’s value, higher than those from estate agents. The longer the iBuyer estimates it will take to sell the property afterwards the higher the fee will be.
  • Lower than average “accurate cash offers” – despite their technology, studies reveal that iBuyer offers aren’t completely accurate and tend to be slightly below Open Market value, 1.3% to be exact.
  • Location – iBuyers business is based on fast transactions and quick turnarounds. But not all properties possess this quality. Therefore, if your house isn’t located in an in-demand neighbourhood, it might not qualify for a purchase. This fact begs another question: is it worth it paying for an 8% fee and getting a slightly lower price for a property that would normally have a fairly smooth sale in the open market?

Are iBuyers more like estate agents or fast property buyers?

It may seem that iBuyers are a hybrid of these two services but, despite their similarities, there are some key differences.


iBuyers vs Estate Agents

The big difference between estate agents and iBuyers falls into convenience and price. Estate agents will put your house in the open market and find buyers which will lead to at least a few months of viewings and negotiations before you accept an offer. On the other hand with iBuyers you’ll have your house sold quickly and hassle-free but their offer will be lower than that from the open market.


Fast Property Buyers vs iBuyers

Although at first glance it may look like these two businesses are very similar, there are some important differences.

One of the key distinctions is how they communicate their services. While iBuyers give the impression that their ability to make accurate initial offers in 24 hours is down to their ‘revolutionary technology’, fast property buyers have long been using their expertise and data to provide cash offers within the same timeframe. In Vivo’s case, desktop valuations are so detailed and thorough that 96% of our Formal Offers remain at the same level as our initial offers.

The idea of selling a house fast and for its market value is certainly one of iBuyers’ main appeals. However, there is a bit of ambiguity with what the final amount you’ll receive is with iBuyers that doesn’t occur when selling to a fast house buyer. Taking into account their initial “slightly below open market” offer, their service fee, potential adjustments and legal fees, your final price may end up being at a similar level as if you were to sell to a Fast Property Buying Company. Vivo, for example, will offer a certain 85% of market value, with no hidden costs. Let’s see how this translates into an actual sale:

 

Sales process
iBuyer

Vivo
Property value £200,000 £200,000
Offer £197,400 £170,000
Service fees up to 9%+ Vat £25,819 £0
Legal fees £1,500 £0
Repair costs £300 £0

Seller receives
£169,781
Seller receives
£170,000

Is selling to an iBuyer right for you?

As with everything in life, it depends on your needs and circumstances. If you’re in no rush to sell, and happy to wait a bit longer for ‘full market value’, an estate agent may be a better option for you. If you’re keen to sell quickly and are flexible on price, iBuyers or Fast Property Buyers are likely to suit your situation more.

If you’re uneasy about the level of fees involved, prefer a more personal service, or if your property does not fit the iBuyer criteria but you still want to sell with a short turnaround, a fast property buyer may be what you need. You would sell at a below market value price, in return for a speedy and secure transaction. The speed and fee-less approach of companies like Vivo can enable you to plan ahead, whilst knowing the exact amount you will receive upon completion of the sale, and can often save you money in the long-term.

The last disclaimer is that iBuyers are fairly new in the game and their presence in Europe is still small. Maybe in a few years they will offer their services in every corner of the UK but for now, the chances are that they are not yet buying properties in your area.

If you are looking for a quick house sale Vivo is here for you

If you want to sell your house fast and hassle-free, we can help. We are a family run business that can buy houses in any condition, allowing you to have a quick and private sale in as little as 7 days. Submit your details to get your cash offer in 24h – just like an iBuyer. We tend to offer around 85% of the estimated current market value of your property. This package includes all legal fees, clearance, cleaning and refurbishment costs, so there are no fees for you to pay at any stage when we buy your property.

Once you’ve accepted our formal offer, your sale is secured. You’ll know exactly how much you’ll receive and when you’ll receive it. As we buy property using our own cash, we’ll be ready to proceed with your sale straight away.

If you would like to know more, please call us on 0800 773 4922 or fill in our quick contact form.

Ask us anything!

What does ‘sold as seen’ mean?

Whether you’re looking to sell your home or buy your next one, you may have come across properties that are ‘sold as seen’. Here, we look at what is meant by this term, the benefits of a ‘sold as seen’ house sale, and whether it could be the right option for you. We’ll start with definitions of a ‘sold as seen’ property:

  • From the perspective of a seller

A ‘sold as seen’ sale means that you do not have to change anything about the property before the sale going through. Put simply, it is sold in its current state. This means no renovations or fixing of issues which is fairly routine for most sales. This is useful as it gives you the flexibility to sell your home faster (and save money on things like cleaning services or survey fees) but it may impact potential offers being lower. In most cases, your buyer will most likely renovate the property themselves after completion.

Selling a house can be a long, complicated process but selling your property ‘sold as seen’ could make it a little simpler for you. Ideal if you’re seeking a quick, secure sale.

  • From the perspective of a buyer

The term ‘sold as seen’ generally refers to buying a property where you have no prior knowledge of any faults such as damp issues or broken central heating. Conveyancers are only able to advise on the legal title and there will be no access to further information. ‘Sold as seen’ properties are bought under the principle of ‘caveat emptor’ which is Latin for let the buyer beware.

This means that up until the contracts are exchanged, you, as a buyer, accept the property in the physical state it is in. It’s therefore your responsibility as a buyer to carry out all the necessary checks and inspections through a comprehensive survey on the property. You must ensure that no changes have been made to the property between the date the survey was carried out and the date of completion of contracts. If, for example,  damage to the property had occurred since the first inspection, it is your responsibility as a buyer to re-inspect to lower the risk of a change or damage going unnoticed.

When are ‘sold as seen’ sales most useful?

 

  • Repossession
    If the property has been repossessed, the seller will have very little knowledge about it, from its nuances, history and details. This will make common house buying questions difficult such as: Is central heating working? When was the boiler last serviced? And, is the property prone to damp?
  • Property being sold by a company
    Similar to a repossessed property, the company selling the property may not have enough knowledge about it to be able to answer questions regarding information such as details of work carried out on the property and who the gas suppliers are.
  • Property being sold as part of a deceased estate
    The seller may not want the hassle of emptying the property before selling or would like to complete the sale as soon as possible and will therefore put the property for sale as ‘sold as seen’.

What are the benefits of selling 'sold as seen'?

If you're considering this way of selling your home, here are the advantages this route has:
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It is faster than open market sales

You’ll save time due to not having to carry out refurbishment on the property, and could even sell your home within 7 days with a fast property buying company.

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You can save upfront costs

You’ll be able to sell your home regardless of its condition, without any expenses such as cleaning costs

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It's more private

As you won’t be staging your property and the process is much faster, you can avoid nosy neighbours

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No survey fees

All surveys, checks and inspections carried out on the property are the responsibility of the buyer, not the seller in ‘sold as seen’ sales.

Vivo can buy houses ‘sold as seen’

If you’re planning on selling a property ‘sold as seen’, we can help. At Vivo, we can buy houses in any condition, allowing you to have a fast and private house sale. In return for a secure 7-14 day sale, we tend to offer around 85% of the estimated current market value of your property. This package includes all legal fees, clearance, cleaning and refurbishment costs. There are no fees for you to pay at any stage when we buy your property

Once you’ve accepted our formal offer, your sale is guaranteed. You’ll know exactly how much you’ll receive and when you’ll receive it. As we buy property using our own cash, we’ll be ready to proceed with your sale straight away.

If you would like to know more, please call us on 0800 773 4922 or fill in our quick contact form.

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Vivo Property Buyers is the trading name for Potrell London Ltd, The Ashridge Business Centre 121 High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2DJ.

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