The coronavirus pandemic has made many feel as though their homes have become their entire universe.
Working from home and staying local for months on end has given many a chance to re-assess what they really need in a property.
But what impact has this had on Swansea’s property market in the last 10 months?
We spoke to some of the city’s estate agents and looked at the figures to see just how the market has changed since the pandemic began:
What the numbers say
While most parts of the economy have suffered at the hands of the pandemic, the property market in the UK has gone from strength to strength.
According to property experts Zoopla, it’s no different in Swansea, where house prices have grown faster in the last 12 months in comparison to previous years.
The average price for property in Swansea stood at £187,934 in January, 2021. This is a rise of 0.51% in the last three months (since October, 2020) and a rise of 3.65% since 12 months ago.
In terms of property types, flats in Swansea sold for an average of £164,846 and terraced houses for £132,437.
Like most cities, apartments and HMOs make up a lot of the housing market, but generally these aren’t ideal for long-term home working. Many have no outdoor space and limited room even for a makeshift office.
So, how has the pandemic impacted the type of properties people are interested in?
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Relocation to the area
According to Chris Thomas, partner and surveyor at Clee Thompkinson Francis estate agents, there has been an increase in people moving into Swansea from other parts of the UK.
He said: “After the first lockdown, we saw a bit of pent up demand where people were starting to look around.
“People were relocating from other areas of the country, such as from London. I was asking them, ‘why Wales?’ They said the pandemic had pressed a reset button. Some were reaching retirement age, they might have resided in London while having friends and family in Wales, who they now wanted to be close to.
“There is now a bigger demand for being able to keep families closer.
“They could sell up and live mortgage free in Swansea because of the difference in house prices.”
Moving for wellbeing
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has increased demand in properties that can offer people more space – indoor and outdoor – and nicer surrounding areas for exercise.
Mr Thomas said: “There has been an increase in people looking for properties that have office space for home working, or maybe an annex for their parents.
“People also wanted to live somewhere nearer the coast. They maybe worked in places like London and their jobs changed so they could work from home and commute once a week or so to the office.”
Chris Hope is a senior partner at Dawsons estate agents in Swansea. He said sellers realised this demand and had time on their hands to create a more desirable home.
House buying turn-offs:
He said: “When Wales went into lockdown it was a shock for everyone in the early days. When people couldn’t go anywhere, one of the things people did was look around their house and garden, doing repairs to get their homes ready.
“People realise that outside space is in demand, we’ve seen a lot of people who have dug away to make level gardens or patios.
“People had time to reconsider their future options. People became ready to upsize, downsize and move on. From June we saw a huge spike in demand across every price range and style of house all the way from Neath to Carmarthenshire. And there still is now, six months on.
“The availability of properties on offer to people is the biggest factor – it’s supply and demand.”
Mr Thomas said sellers in Swansea had been testing the waters in terms of property prices. This combined with buyers’ desire for a new home and the increased savings from not being able to spend as much during lockdown were also factors in the market increase.
He said: “The market has been pretty good, allowing people to sell homes at a higher value, in some areas we saw increases of 5% to 10%. Sellers have been testing prices and have found that some people will buy for a higher price.
“All [property types] on the market have been selling well, particularly the lower end of the market up to £125,000.
“People who have been lucky enough to keep jobs in the pandemic haven’t been going on holiday and have been able to save. First time buyers realise they have more money in their bank as well as grants. Also, the investment market is still going strong.”
Mr Hope added: “We haven’t necessarily seen huge price increases, but people are paying more closely to the asking prices. People are willing to pay the price if it is sensible.
“There are still lots of people who are not willing to take the risk of moving, but a lot of people need to move. For example, if they need more space or need to move to be close to a particular school for their children.”
In June, 2020, the Welsh Government announced a holiday on the tax paid on house sales for homes worth less than £250,000 until March 31, 2021.
It followed England’s decision to bring in a stamp duty holiday for all homes worth less than £500,000.
Both Mr Hope and Mr Thomas said this also encouraged more people to move.
Mr Hope said: “The stamp duty helped people save money, so a lot of people are wanting to buy houses before the cut off in March so they can make the savings, but after that, people will still want to move.”
Mr Thomas added: “If they had gone a bit further with it, it would have been better. House prices in Wales and England are not on a par, but in Swansea we have places like the Gower and Mumbles, where house prices can exceed £500,000. However, it did help people to buy.”
The picture is the same across Swansea
According to Mr Hope and Mr Thomas, market value had increased in all areas of Swansea and included all property types.
However, Mr Thomas noted seeing more increases in family areas such as in Port Tennant and St Thomas, while Mr Hope said he expected to see an increase in traditionally rental areas.
Mr Hope said: “People might think that now the market is good, they’ll stop renting out their homes and sell them and that will bring more people back to the market, but they have to give tenants six months notice.
“Geographically there haven’t been many noticeable differences, but with more people working from home we have seen good broadband connection being a priority when people are deciding where to relocate. People don’t want to be stuck working from home in their hallway just because that’s where the best wifi connection is in their homes.”