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A year in property: Google searches reveal what buyers were looking for this year

How will mortgages and the housing market be impacted by coronavirus?
  • Regulated property buyers, Good Move have analysed Google Search data to reveal what potential buyers were searching for this year compared to 2019
  • Balconies, tennis courts and 2-bed homes were among the most searched
  • South-East and Northern England are hotspots for searches

With average house prices and mortgage approvals at an all-time high, this year has certainly impacted the property market for the better.

But what were buyers looking for in their property this year, and has lockdown changed their preferences? Analysing Google Search Data from the past year, experts at regulated property buyers, Good Move can reveal what potential buyers were searching for this year, and how this compares to 2019.

When looking at specific home features, the searches with the highest year on year growth, are:

  1. Apartment with balcony (147%)
  2. Apartment with hot tub (139%)
  3. House with tennis court (127%)
  4. House with swimming pool (109%)
  5. House with driveway (107%)

Searches for apartments with a balcony had the highest year on year increase compared to 2019, no doubt due to buyers looking for properties with more outdoor space due to the impact of the pandemic.

It’s also interesting to see ‘fancier’ features such as hot tubs, tennis courts and swimming pools had more searches year on year than more practical features such as a driveway (106% increase), conservatory (101% increase), or double garage (77% increase). Again, this could be due to people spending more time at home and looking for properties with more fun, active amenities they can enjoy.

When it comes to the type of houses for sale, the most popular searches with the biggest year on year growth were 2-bed houses.

Searches for ‘2-bedroom house for sale’ were up 64% compared to this time last year, with ‘2-bed house for sale’ also racking up a 47% increase in searches compared to 2019.

So, where in the UK are people searching for properties the most this year? The counties with the highest number of searches for ‘houses for sale in …’ compared to 2019 are:

  1. Buckinghamshire (73%)
  2. Berkshire (72%)
  3. West Yorkshire (69%)
  4. Hertfordshire (61%)
  5. Surrey (59%)

Aside from West Yorkshire, the counties with the highest YoY growth in searches (Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, and Surrey) are all near each other in South East England, perhaps predicting this area as a hotspot for British home buyers.

However, at a city level, the top five cities with the highest year on year search for ‘houses for sale in…’ compared to 2019, are:

  1. Bradford (52%)
  2. Liverpool (51%)
  3. Sunderland (48%)
  4. Preston (45%)
  5. Newcastle (42%)

Interestingly, except for Liverpool, the top cities with the highest overall searches compared to 2019 were all in Northern England, despite West Yorkshire being the only Northern county that people were searching for.

So, while many people were searching for houses in counties in South-East England, cities in Northern England showed the highest growth in searches in 2020.

Commenting on the research, Nima Ghasri, Director at Good Move says: “Against all odds, this year has positively impacted the UK housing market and completely transformed the way buyers and sellers look at properties. More and more people are moving away from flats and apartments and into homes with outdoor space, and we’ve also seen many people looking to move away from cities into more rural areas.

“As we approach the New Year, we wanted to look back on the year in property search and reveal what potential buyers were actually looking for this year. It’s interesting to see that they have been searching for more luxurious features such as a swimming pool and tennis court, no doubt due to the increase of time spent at home and leisure facilities closing due to the pandemic. It’s also fascinating to see the areas where people are searching for properties the most, with South-East and Northern England the two hotspots.

“As we move into 2021, we look forward to seeing how the property market adapts to buyer’s needs.”

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