There is no doubt that since the financial crisis took place in 2007, we have seen a significant alteration in the belief that buying and selling homes quickly is an easy way to make a fast buck!

In the last 12 years, many house prices are only now returning to the previous levels of value that they enjoyed in 2006. 12 years of static or volatile house price levels have, undoubtedly, led to concern throughout the housing market.

The beginning of 2018 has been hugely optimistic and very encouraging, with Rightmove recording their highest ever levels of newly registered applicants in January and February of this year. We are certainly experiencing high levels of enquiries coming through to our offices and these enquiries are leading very quickly to viewings and offers being agreed.

The way we use our houses is undoubtedly changing and one of the main reasons for this is an ageing population living much longer and being very well cared for by our NHS. People still like to live in their homes as long as possible and, even though there are increasingly good choices of residential care for the elderly, it is not unusual now for people to be living in their own homes until their late 80s and early 90s.

Multi-generation living was, perhaps, introduced more popularly by our Asian population, who have always cared for the elder generation themselves, rather than looking to move them into bungalows or residential care. There are now clearer signs that multi-generation living is taking place throughout all ethnic groups, as houses are seen as homes for families and rightly so, as people want to care and look after their loved ones.

One of the greatest changes to take place in the last 10-12 years is the increasing number of homes being adapted, not for use as a Granny or Grandfather flat, but for a 20-something occupant. These are the people who have been to college and university and are still unable to afford their first step on to the housing ladder and are therefore looking to stay at home. It is them in particular who are keen on taking the conversion of the attic, or the independent space from an old garage or studio set within the gardens. The flexibility of homes to create multi-generation living is encouraging and this is leading to people staying in their homes for longer periods of time.

The use of formal dining rooms also appears to be a dwindling tradition with many dining rooms changing in the last 10 years to games rooms, second reception and leisure rooms and, in particular, studies and working offices for those who have the freedom of working from home. Dining for most people is more casual and often takes place within the kitchen and principal living areas.

One of the last changes relates to the kitchen, which, historically, may have been located in the less popular elevation and aspect of the house. In many homes, it was often at the front elevation, or tucked to the side in a galley style. Now, the kitchen takes priority amongst all living space and is often a focal point of the house, combining what may have historically been two large entertaining reception rooms and often in the more dominant aspect of the house, looking on to its gardens, rather than to the front, towards a drive or approach to a house.

Large family kitchen/breakfast rooms with seamless glass and aspect overlooking the gardens have been popular for some time and they are increasingly seen as a premium value for houses that enjoy modern contemporary living.

The other way we use our homes is by communicating and ensuring the home has intelligent wiring, which, in most cases, is not just the ability to use Wi-Fi but also the download speed and whether it has links to the latest technology, to enable people to work smartly from home and in an efficient and effective manner.

Whilst the traditional conveniences and luxuries of modern day bathrooms, wet rooms, luxury kitchens with beautiful worktops and fabulous lighting will continue to be a feature of lovely homes, there are many other aspects which are drawing people’s attention to the appeal and attraction of a house being offered for sale.

One of the last factors we have seen is increasing popularity for the efficiency and sustainability of a house. 10 years ago, the Energy Performance Certificate for a property was never particularly important to prospective buyers. Now, increasing numbers of people are very keen to see houses being efficient, warm and economical. Running costs for a home can be a significant addition to a monthly mortgage. For those houses that have been well designed, planned or renovated, the modern day running costs can be greatly lowered and this is a tremendous attraction to prospective buyers.

As we move into the ‘traditional’ best selling period within the housing market, we look forward to the spring weather bringing warmer conditions with beautiful gardens emerging and flowers and shrubs growing to create appealing recreation areas. I am sure many people look forward to their first spring lunch, barbeque or garden party, which, hopefully, the North East will enjoy. The gardens continue to be a very major factor within the sale of a property and it is important to ensure that they are not only presented well and cared for, but in many cases, they must provide enjoyable entertaining spaces. We are seeing increasing numbers of gardens being professionally lit, particularly mature trees and around the patio terraces, whilst outdoor barbeques are being extended into outdoor fireplaces with log stores and warmer places to congregate in the early evening when the sun is not so enjoyable in the North as it is in the South of England.

We look forward to being able to help our clients and those who are actively looking to move home in the near future. The demand for housing is certainly increasing and our supply of new homes is extremely encouraging and attractive to the region. We look forward to being able to act in your move, with the sale or rental of your property. Please let me know if myself or my team can assist you in any way.

Very best wishes,
Duncan Young
Managing Director at Sanderson Young