Survey reveals post Covid-19 consumer attitudes to housing

Reliable broadband was the top-ranking feature for purchasers

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Broadband

In a post Covid-19 environment, access to reliable broadband was the top-ranking feature for purchasers

Survey results from Sherry FitzGerald  have revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many aspects of people's lives and buyer behaviour is adapting accordingly. The pandemic has accelerated some trends already evident and is reshaping the Irish housing market in real time.

‘While sustainable design and good architecture are prerequisites for the future of Irish housing, so is a dramatically increased supply.  Irish housing, in the future, needs to be all about quality and quantity’, according to Michael Grehan, Chairman of Sherry FitzGerald’s residential arm.

To better understand the current mindset of people looking to buy their own home, on 11th/12th June last, Sherry FitzGerald conducted an online survey with over 10,000 registered potential buyers looking to purchase in Dublin, Cork, Galway & Limerick.  The full online survey was completed by over 1,500 respondents.

The key findings of the Sherry FitzGerald survey were as follows: 

- Buyer sentiment remains resilient with over 60% of respondents reporting that their commitment to purchase a property was unaffected by Covid-19.
- A further 20% of respondents said they were now even more committed to buying, whereas 18% said they were less committed to buying.
- In a post Covid-19 environment, access to reliable broadband was the top-ranking feature for purchasers, followed by more outdoor space and a good energy rating.
- Other important features were space for a home office and access to public parks.
- 62% of respondents were under 40 years of age and a high proportion of these were first-time buyers, 29%.
- 80% of respondents were seeking a house or apartment of less than €500,000 in value, which reflects the regional spread of the survey. Demand from First Time Buyers is largely concentrated in the €200,000-400,000 price bracket, accounting for 76% of demand.
- Interestingly, 55% of respondents reported difficulty in securing a property in their preferred location, a reflection of the ongoing supply side shortage in the housing market.
- 67% of respondents had only begun actively looking for a property less than 6 months ago.
- Over 30% of respondents had only begun their search within the last 3 months. 


 ‘The degree of engagement by potential purchasers in the survey was a surprise on one level, but on another level reflected the fact that purchasers remained in touch with us during lockdown.  

"The most remarkable finding of the survey was, I think, the fact that nearly one third of respondents to the survey had only begun to actively look to buy since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps this shows that, in an increasingly uncertain world full of ideological division, people see Ireland as a safe and secure place’ according to Michael Grehan.
 

‘We have seen a significant pick-up in enquiries from the diaspora with a 42% increase in visits to our website from the U.K. alone between May & June.  Interestingly, within these figures, we have recorded an increase in visits to our website from both Northern Ireland and Scotland in the same period.  Furthermore, in June, U.S. traffic to our website increased by 38%, with the highest number of visits coming from the state of Virginia, followed by California and New York.

"There is a discernable trend among people whose families have flown the nest, looking to trade down; others are looking for more space. A third of our city centre instructions in the last month are from people moving out of the centre of Dublin in search of more space for their families, yet there is great demand for these properties from younger buyers. Those with mortgage approvals are very decisive and want to buy.

"Certainly, we are coming across plenty of viewers whose employers do not envisage them returning to an office, 5 days a week, for the foreseeable future. There will undoubtedly be a change in housing demand patterns, and it will be interesting to see how the new hybrid of office/remote working evolves in the longer term. People love the variety of services & amenities available in Dublin, but they also love the relationship with nature that is so rare in a crowded world. Currently, 1 in 4 of our sales in regional Ireland are to people moving from cities, both within Ireland and from abroad, as some people are making virtual purchases."