Lockdown property essentials

Gone are the days when our homes were mostly used for sleeping, eating and relaxing. Since being cooped up within the same four walls for such a long time, however, priorities are changing when it comes to house hunting.

Homes are no longer considered just a place to spend our spare time but a place people can live, work, play and entertain in – sometimes simultaneously!

Those property features that used to be on the ‘nice to have’ list are fast becoming the ‘new normal’ necessities.

Outside space

It’s safe to say that outside space is a growing priority for anyone moving on. According to Rightmove, two and three-bedroom flats are no longer in the top five types of properties searched for and there’s been a 42% increase in searches for homes with gardens – this figure doubles amongst renters.

The same research also reveals that home movers are more interested in countryside and coastal locations, suggesting they want easy access to outside space if private gardens are unattainable.

For vendors and landlords, now is definitely the time to feed and nurture unkempt lawns, replace broken patios with modern decking or artificial grass and convert clutter-free balconies into serene small spaces.

Where gardens are not an option, owners and investors should think about how to bring the outside in by creating indoor gardens.

Home working

Just over 12% of the UK workforce worked from home in some capacity in 2019. This figure rose to more than 61% by the end of March 2020. And despite lockdown measures being eased, data from the ONS shows that half of workers continue to work from home.

After a while, working from the kitchen table or balancing a laptop on your knees wears thin. This is why having a permanent, or even semi-permanent, workstation at home is more important than ever.

Two in five working adults surveyed by Lloyds Bank said that they will now look for properties with a suitable domestic workspace. This has already led to larger property owners finally converting spare rooms into offices and others creatively adapting corners and cubby holes into workstations.

Whatever space you have to work with, there are tonnes of ways you can create a dedicated workspace in any property and showcase this to potential buyers and renters.

Room to exercise

In the fitness industry, it’s been a tale of two halves during the Covid-19 pandemic. While gym memberships were frozen and physical exercise classes paused, the sale of home gym equipment and subscriptions to virtual workout providers soared.

Almost two thirds of people (63%) believe it’s more important to be active now compared to before and 25% of people now regularly workout at home.

Exercising at home is nothing new but choice has previously been limited. Since lockdown, fitness providers, both big and small, have launched free and low-cost online programmes that cater for a larger demographic of people. As a result, space to workout at home is becoming an essential.

Unfortunately, most homes won’t cater for a garden room gym (which could also double up as an office), but there are plenty of space-saving equipment and home gym hacks around.

Pantries and larders

Anyone born post-1980s might have wondered what on earth a larder was until a couple of years ago. But thanks to the likes of Nigella Lawson, Stacey Soloman and the rising trend of clean eating, dry food storage is becoming a ‘thing’.

The need for extra space to store food was only emphasised after panic buying set in, with everyone clearing the supermarket shelves of pasta and flour, and more people cooking every meal from scratch.

Now, social media is full of ‘pantry porn’ and property buyers are suddenly studying potential pantry space in kitchens rather than whether they can fit in a chest freezer.

The good news is space is not an issue and you don’t necessarily need a walk-in larder to appeal to a pantry lover. Anyone can make room for pantry storage and on the smallest of budgets.

For property owners with these ‘new normal necessities’, there’s likely an audience waiting to buy. And if your property is lacking, you may want to consider some small improvements before putting it on the market.