Cornwall overtakes London as most searched for location among property buyers

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
Pandemic has led to a surge in demand for seaside towns and villages of Cornwall, England. Photo: Getty
Pandemic has led to a surge in demand for seaside towns and villages of Cornwall, England. Photo: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that Britons want to live and where they want to purchases or rent homes as lockdowns meant that people spent more time at home.

Cornwall has overtaken London as the most searched for location on property site Rightmove (RMV.L), with over 5 million searches for homes in February alone.

The property listings website compared searches in January and February 2021 with the same time period last year, to show how trends have changed over a year of COVID lockdowns.

Searches on Rightmove for the village of Stithians in Cornwall rose by 224% compared with 2020, while searches for Polperro, also in Cornwall increased by 203% — the biggest annual increases seen across the UK.

Devon stayed in third place after London — same as last year — and searches for Dorset, saw the city rise 10 places from 20th a year ago.

Meanwhile, searches for properties in Braemar in Aberdeenshire soared by 189%, making it the location with the third highest annual jump in home searches.

The biggest change was in London, where last year 39% of house hunters were inquiring about properties outside London. This has jumped 52%.

According to Rightmove, renters are also searching for more space. Last year, the most sought-after property type for tenants was a two bedroom flat, and this has been replaced by a two bed semi-detached house.

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Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said: “The stand-out trends over the past year have been increased demand for countryside and coastal living, more people making the dream of a detached home a reality, and the increased appeal for a garden.

“The huge population of London means that traditionally it’s the most searched-for location on Rightmove, but the appeal of the coast and the countryside over the past year has seen Cornwall crowned the new capital this year.

“More space has always been the most common reason for people moving home, but the evolution for many from balancing their laptop on the end of a bed last March to making an office a permanent addition to a home, whether that’s by converting a bedroom, garage or garden shed, has led to a need for even bigger homes than before.

“This is evident with five-bed detached homes seeing the biggest growth in sales, and two-bed homes becoming the most sought after for people renting.”

It comes as, the UK housing market is experiencing the greatest excess in demand over supply in the past decade, meaning the price of the average property coming to market in March was inflated by 0.8%, or £2,484 ($3,460).

Rightmove's monthly House Price Index, the number of potential buyers enquiring about each available property in the month also shot up, and is a record 34% higher than the same period a year ago, which was itself an active market before the first lockdown.

Rightmove said that with sales already agreed for almost two out of three properties on agents’ books, buyers are eagerly awaiting fresh choice coming to market, making this the best sellers’ market of the past ten years.

Earlier in March, chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the stamp duty holiday, which was due to end in April, by three months to 30 June, to further alleviate any pressure on the housing market. Sunak also unveiled new mortgages with just 5% deposits during his Budget announcement.

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