The results of the latest ‘aspiring’ buyer attitudes survey by Sherry FitzGerald reveals the prevalence of robust buyer sentiment despite the ongoing uncertainty of the impact of Covid-19 on the wider economic environment.
Commenting on the findings, Marian Finnegan, Managing Director, Sherry FitzGerald said,
“It is indisputable that Covid-19 has had a transformational impact on all aspects of our lives.
“It has in many ways reshaped buyer behaviour.
“However, it has also certainly reinforced the value of home.
“We have witnessed the largest upheaval for property buyers in modern times, with all aspects of the housing sector disrupted.
“However, despite all the uncertainty buyer sentiment remains robust with 85% of respondents either just as committed or even more committed to purchasing a property despite Covid-19.”
This survey is the second one conducted by Sherry FitzGerald to determine the attitudes to buying property amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey was sent to 10,000 aspiring buyers with a strong response rate of 13%.
In terms of demand the results reveal that the preference for low rise or traditional detached or semi-detached houses remains strong at 71%.
The survey also suggests that the pandemic is driving change in mobility patterns, possibly reflecting the expected adoption of flexible or remote working post pandemic coupled with a ‘search for space’.
The results suggest a shift in buyer preference in terms of location with 1 in 5 buyers indicating that their location preference has changed post Covid-19.
Of that cohort, 80% stated relocating to a town/village and suburbs as their new preference.
Interestingly, 68% of respondents anticipate a combination of office and remote working or full time remote working post Covid-19.
In this latest survey, there was a marked trend among respondents prioritising characteristics that enhanced home working and lifestyle as opposed to the physical location of the property.
Access to reliable broadband was the top-ranking feature for purchasers, with 93% of respondents rating reliable broadband as either important or very important to them.
This was followed by more outdoor space and access to public parks, public amenities, or open space.
In terms of supply, this latest survey exposed the very negative impact that Covid-19 has had on supply.
When asked about the challenges faced when purchasing a property, 77% of respondents reported difficulty in securing a property in their preferred location, a reflection of the critically low level of supply in the housing market at present.
The next most common challenge was a lack of suitable stock in their price range.
When asked to elaborate further on challenges in purchasing property, many respondents cited chronic supply shortages leading to bidding wars and the inability to view properties physically at that time due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Turning to prices, 79% of respondents were seeking a house or apartment under €500,000 in value, while the corresponding figure for first-time buyers was 90%.
When asked about their house price expectations in 2021, 75% of respondents expect house prices to rise this year.
Of which, 47% expect house prices to increase between 1-5%.
Finally, the survey explored several questions in relation to housing policy. 71% of first-time buyers felt there was inadequate support from the Government for first-time buyers.
When asked about the current Help-to-Buy scheme, 46% of respondents agreed that the scheme had influenced their decision to purchase.
However, when asked about the Governments proposed Purchase Shared Equity scheme, there exists a clear lack of understanding of the scheme with 63% of first-time buyers stating that they did not fully understand the scheme.
In conclusion, Ms Finnegan stated,
“The evidence from our buyer attitudes survey reveals that the pandemic has reinforced the value of home for many people.
“However, not surprisingly, there are many indications that it has had a reinforced the challenges on supply.
“ This will inevitably need to be the focus of Government policy if we are to ensure a positive outturn for the property market.
“The communication on policy changes and interventions will be particularly important with the announcement of the Affordable Homes Bill and ‘Homes for All’ Plan in July.”
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