Housing demand stable after lockdown, estate agency reports

Sherry FitzGerald says over 30% of potential buyers started search during shutdown

Eighteen per cent of respondents in mid-June said they were less committed to buying. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Eighteen per cent of respondents in mid-June said they were less committed to buying. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

 

Early signals from house buyers post-Covid-19 indicate demand for housing stock remains stable and has been unaffected by the coronavirus. A survey carried out by estate agent Sherry FitzGerald found that 60 per cent of 1,600 respondents who described themselves as potential purchasers said their commitment to buy a property had been unaffected by Covid-19.

The mid-June survey of 10,000 registered users in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick found that a further 20 per cent of respondents said they were now even more committed to buying, while 18 per cent said they were less committed to buying.

The survey found that a substantial cohort (67 per cent) of respondents had only actively started looking for property within the last six months, while it was interesting to note that more than 30 per cent only began their search in earnest during lockdown (within the last three months). Of the potential purchaser group 62 per cent were aged under 40 with 29 per cent describing themselves as first time buyers.

Stock availability continues to be an issue with more than half (55 per cent) of respondents reporting difficulty in finding a property in their preferred location, which would suggest the already limited supply of housing stock to buy has tightened in recent months.

Responding to the findings Michael Grehan, chairman of Sherry FitzGerald Residential, said: “While sustainable design and good architecture are prerequisites for the future of Irish housing, so is a dramatically increased supply. Irish housing, in the future, needs to be all about quality and quantity.”

Four out of five buyers (80 per cent) were looking for a house or apartment valued at €500,000 or less – reflecting house prices nationally – while three quarters of this demand (76 per cent) was from first time buyers concentrated in the €200,000 to €400,000 price bracket.

The coronavirus experience is also feeding into buyer preferences with reliable broadband now the top-ranking feature of a home among purchasers followed closely by more outdoor space and a good energy rating. Two features that have risen substantially in the rankings of buyer priorities were space for a home office and access to public parks.

Grehan says the findings indicate a shift in buyer behaviour brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. “There will undoubtedly be a change in housing demand patterns, and it will be interesting to see how the new hybrid of office/remote working evolves in the longer term. Currently, one in four of our sales in regional Ireland are to people moving from cities, both within Ireland and from abroad, as some people are making virtual purchases.”

Sherry FitzGerald noted a 42 per cent increase in visits to its website from the UK alone between May and June including a spike in visits from both Northern Ireland and Scotland in the same period. In June, US traffic to the website increased by 38 per cent.