“Escape to the country” trend moves in reverse

The recovery of town and city markets has gathered momentum as pandemic restrictions have been lifted, Knight Frank research has found.

From Q3 2020 to Q3 2022 the number of exchanges in regional towns and cities increased by 10%, while in the same period rural exchanges declined by 9%.

Tim Harriss, office head at Knight Frank Guildford, said: “The country market went completely crazy two and a half years ago.

“Some buyers thought they could leapfrog the Home Counties and live much further out but the dawning reality for many is that even if they are hybrid- working, they’re in the office three days a week so their commutes need to be manageable.”

Nine of the top 10 areas in England and Wales that have seen the largest increase in properties under offer are classified as majority urban.

While the South West region saw a surge in interest after the first UK lockdown, attracting many Londoners to make a lifestyle change, demand has returned to levels similar to before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the South East has proved resilient since restrictions were lifted thanks to its proximity to London, and greater affordability compared with the capital.

Robin Engley, city sales lead at Knight Frank Bristol, said: “A big driver for activity remains families in their 30s and 40s looking to upsize, that are attracted by the schools, culture, restaurants and employment opportunities that cities offer.

“Since the pandemic buyers are looking for more space and greenery, and cities such as Bristol can offer this at a more affordable level than London property.”

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