Are city home sellers really heading to the country? Apparently not.

The romanticised notion that many city-based homeowners are upping sticks and, well, moving to the sticks, has been heavily featured in the press in recent months. 

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However, the latest research by Barrows and Forrester suggests that this isn’t quite the case. Well, not yet anyway. 

Barrows and Forrester analysed the latest transaction data from the Land Registry, splitting these transactions between areas classed as predominantly urban and those classed as either predominantly rural or urban with significant rural by the Office for National Statistics. 

The data shows that since lockdown, there have been over 55,000 transactions across areas classed as urban.

In contrast, there have been just over 33,000 transactions in areas classed as rural or urban with significant rural. 

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean there hasn’t been a shift in buyer activity across the two. So Barrows and Forrester then looked at how this level of transactions compared to the same period last year. 

COVID has had a clear impact on the market, and since lockdown transactions in urban areas have fallen by -71.4% year on year. 

Interestingly, however, rural transactions are also down -72.5% since lockdown when compared to the same time last year. So not only are rural sales failing to increase as a result of city sellers heading for the hills, but they’ve actually declined at a greater rate than urban areas.

Average house prices in urban areas are also 10% higher at £279,608 compared to £253,325 in rural areas; which comes as no surprise. But those with plans to purchase in the country may want to think twice. 

Rural house prices have fallen -3.1% when compared to this time last year, compared to a drop of just -0.9% in urban areas. 

Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented:

“The idea that many homeowners are selling up across our major cities and heading for greener pastures is a lovely one. However, this trend doesn’t seem to be happening on the scale that many have predicted. Certainly not yet anyway. 

Both rural and urban areas have seen transactions decline since lockdown, and this comes as no surprise given the restrictions that have been in place. However, in terms of the level of transactions that are taking place, the mix remains pretty much as it was this time last year. 

It’s important to note that there has been an epic market revival in recent months and we’re yet to see this increased number of transactions filter through to completed sales. It will be interesting to see if there is an uplift in country living when they do, although we expect the balance will remain fairly even.”

Total transactions across areas classed as urban or rural since lockdown (23rd March 2020) and during the same time period last year
CategoryTotal transactions in lockdown (Since 23rd March 2020)Total transactions – Equivalent period in 2019Change/difference
Urban (City)55,703194,446-71.4%
Rural (Country)33,265120,834-72.5%
Median sold prices across areas classed as urban or rural since lockdown (23rd March 2020) and during the same time period last year
CategoryAverage median price since lockdown (Since 23rd March 2020)Average median price – Equivalent period in 2019Change/difference
Urban (City)£279,608£282,253-0.9%
Rural (Country)£253,325£261,362-3.1%

Posted on October 1, 2020

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