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Would-be home-owners flock to region as pandemic prompts mass urban exodus

PUBLISHED: 11:48 06 November 2020

An 'urban exodus' is boosting demand for homes in the East of England within striking distance of London  Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

An 'urban exodus' is boosting demand for homes in the East of England within striking distance of London Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

Andrew Hendry

Experts are predicting a massive surge in housing demand in East Anglia as a huge urban exodus gets under way.

Andrew Jay, Group Managing Director of Anderson  Picture: ANDERSONAndrew Jay, Group Managing Director of Anderson Picture: ANDERSON

Property developers Anderson — which builds homes across a swathe of the region — says homes are being snapped up before they are built in the wake of the first coronavirus lockdown as people abandon the cities in favour of larger homes with gardens and access to open spaces.

And estate agent Savills said lifestyle change had been a clear market driver during lockdown, along with a stamp duty holiday. Homes with additional accommodation such an annexe or extra bedroom which can serve as an office and a large gardens were proving particularly attractive it said.

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Andrew Jay — group managing director at Chelmsford-based Anderson — pointed out that in the teeth of the pandemic recession, UK house prices were still hitting record highs.

“We are seeing properties being bought before we even have to show homes on site on a level never experienced before,” he said.

“There’s been an extraordinary interest in this part of the country where people can still commute into London but don’t actually wish to live there any more.

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“And as the possibilities of remote working and the post-lockdown desire for more space take hold we are expecting there to be a continuing demand for new housing in the east, which can only serve as a good thing for the local economy.”

Ben Rivett, from the residential team at Savills Norwich, said relocation and staycation locations — such as the north Norfolk coast and parts of West Norfolk — had been especially popular and homes with plenty of space – both inside and out — had been the star performers. Savills’ surveys suggested more people were inclined to work from home more regularly, he added.

“For many the task is now getting deals through to completion by Christmas, inevitably made more challenging due to the most recent lockdown, after which all eyes will be on beating the March 31 stamp duty holiday deadline,” he said.

Anderson is currently building 130 new homes in Sudbury — eight of which have already been sold — and has just completed 90 in Jasmine Park, Ipswich, all of which have been sold and occupied.

“Rent in London is astronomical and many people experienced months cramped in a one-bedroom flat with no outside space while paying more than those in a large three-bed in a rural or coastal location,” said Mr Jay.

“It’s little wonder they are looking to up sticks. The issue is going to be meeting supply with demand – but this has always been the crux of the housing crisis in the UK.”

He added: “I expect we will continue to see this urban exodus and that as a result in the long run, housing growth will skyrocket in places like the east.”


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