Coronavirus and Housing Needs

How Coronavirus (COVID-19) is Changing Tenants’ Housing Needs

Since the Coronavirus lockdown, we’ve been speaking with tenants who have had to adjust to the "new normal". Read about the impact on their housing needs.
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We are living in unprecedented times, with a large part of the world on lockdown and most of the economy on hold for the past several weeks, due to the coronavirus.  History tells us that we will overcome this and hopefully come out of this stronger and wiser.  In the meantime, governments around the world are calling on their citizens to be patient and follow the official COVID-19 guidelines.

How long will restrictions last and how much of an impact will the pandemic have on the economy?  With the situation still evolving, the outcome is still hard to predict.  What’s certain is that we won’t be getting back to ‘business as usual’.  The longer this lasts, the deeper the impact will be on people’s behaviour, which in turn will have a big influence on the rental market landscape.  Such changes are likely to affect rental prices and may potentially redefine what would typically be considered a ‘hot property’ across age groups. 

Since the COVID-19 lockdown in Europe and the US, we’ve been speaking with tenants who have had to adjust to working from home, homeschooling and at-home child care, trying to make the most of their current rental property.  Many have been re-thinking what features are truly important for them when it comes to their home.  One key element being reconsidered is the amount of space they have, as well as their ease of access to the outdoors.

Our recent UK-based tenant survey shows that about 25% of tenants are already considering downsizing or upsizing following the lockdown.  This reflects the fact that a number of tenants have been caught unprepared, financially or space-wise.  As working from home becomes more widely accepted, or simply necessary in a scenario where we have repeated lockdown periods in the next year or so, people are likely to review their priorities when thinking about renting or buying a property. 

Although it’s still very early days to come to hard conclusions, we will most likely see a rise in certain groups of tenants looking to move properties and rightsize once the current coronavirus restrictions are reduced or fully lifted.  We’ve outlined a few examples below.

Families with young children

Coronavirus Housing Families with children

Families with young children are trying to make the most of every square inch of their property during this lockdown.  This is especially the case for those living in large cities, where homes tend to be cramped with very few lucky enough to have a private balcony or any easy access to outdoor space at all!

Tenants may have chosen to compromise on the size of their rental home or access to outdoor space so that they can be located in the ‘right’ neighbourhood, not too far from work and close to good quality schools.  These families may reconsider the criteria on the basis of which they have selected their current homes. With ‘rightsizing’ and access to outdoor space becoming a priority, the factors tenants compromise on might change significantly.  As a result, we may see a future rise in demand for homes in suburban areas, located on the outskirts of large cities, with parents more willing to make long commutes or making arrangements to work from home more regularly. 

Pet owners

The coronavirus lockdown may have pet owners re-evaluating their need for space, as their homes may be too small for keeping their pets locked up for days at a time. 

Flat-sharing young professionals

Coronavirus impact on young professional sharing a flat

A number of young professionals who are sharing a property with fellow colleagues or friends have found their properties ill-equipped for allowing them to effectively work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.  With no desk or no space for a desk in their bedrooms, they’re having to choose between working on their bed (in the privacy of their room) or working in common areas such as the living room sofa or the kitchen table, along with their other flatmates.  It gets even harder to manage if the said flatmates work for competing companies (imagine trying to have a client conversation or confidential phone/video call in that scenario).  It’s also challenging if they have very different working hours, with some repeatedly burning the midnight oil and monopolising the common living space. 

As working from home becomes more widely accepted, including post the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of tenants may consider finding a place which is more ‘remote-working friendly’ as a new ‘must’ criteria for their next rental home search. 

Couples

Coronavirus Couples and Housing Needs

Couples living in two-bed flats, with the spare second bedroom used as a guest room/office, may have to rethink their options, especially if they have been affected economically and need to cut down on their monthly expenses.  It may make sense for them to downsize to a one-bed property instead. 

Of course, there are a number of other considerations, beyond rightsizing, which may come into play, including changes in relationships, managing compatibility issues with flatmates, etc. This will also feed into the demand for rental homes, once the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

If you would like advice and support to reevaluate your housing situation, we’d be happy to help.  Please book a free consultation call with one of our experts here.   

Stay safe and take care! 


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