UK property: Homeowners with gardens given huge boost as demand for outdoor space soars

Estate agents say many of their clients want to spend time outside now that spring has sprung and the days are growing longer. But they acknowledge lots of people are struggling to spend enough quality time outside and are finding it particularly difficult in the current coronavirus lockdown period.

Having a garden is often a rarity for many rental properties in larger cities

Rightmove spokesman

Searches by renters looking for a garden are the highest they have been this year on Rightmove – and are now almost double the level compared to the first week of lockdown.

Some renters don’t have direct access to a garden or even their own private balcony and so are restricted to just one form of outdoor exercise a day, as permitted by the government.

Over the longer-term, rental searches for gardens are now 16 percent higher compared to the average seen in January and February, and are also up 26 percent on the same week last year.

A Rightmove spokesman said: “Having a garden is often a rarity for many rental properties in larger cities, and so it may be that during lockdown people are rethinking their needs and location and are searching for some outdoor space and tranquillity.

“That allure may draw them further away from where they have habitually lived and travelled to work from, however.”

The property market has been thrown into turmoil by the coronavirus lockdown restrictions with agents unable to show potential buyers or renters around available homes.

But agents report they are now helping landlords line up new tenants ready to physically view properties when restrictions are lifted and are also seeing a lower but steady level of tenant referencing taking place.

The Rightmove spokesman said: “Those properties with a garden are likely to be able to fill any landlord voids more quickly post lockdown.

“Understandably most of the rental market has hit the pause button right now except where there are essential moves taking place, and so we haven’t seen an indication of price movements yet.

“If there is a spike in demand that exceeds supply when lockdown ends this may underpin rental prices.”

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Industry analysts said although overall search activity in the rental market was still lower than usual, it is starting to recover and is now running at around 20 percent down on normal levels.

Total stock available to rent is up 2.6 percent in the second two weeks of lockdown compared to the first two weeks, as some agents re-list properties they have let out previously in order to line up new tenants for when lockdown ends.

Some agents have video of their rental stock, and some prospective tenants are happy to secure a property and start an application and referencing process now to save time.

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