Location, location, location? How UK housing preferences shifted through the pandemic – Financial institution Underground


Martina Fazio and Gary Harper

Throughout recessions, and certainly pandemics, housing costs normally fall. But between March 2020 and December 2021 (‘the pandemic’), housing costs grew within the UK, reaching on the time their highest progress price in a decade. Throughout this pandemic, many extra individuals may work at home, which doubtlessly influenced their housing decisions. In a current Monetary Stability paper, we analyse how adjustments in peoples’ preferences may need performed into home worth progress. We discover that about half the expansion in housing costs was linked to shifts in preferences. This was principally on account of an elevated premium paid for homes over flats, with adjustments in location preferences solely contributing marginally. However different interventions and macroeconomic elements additionally affected housing worth progress.

Modifications within the UK housing market tendencies for the reason that begin of the pandemic

To analyse tendencies within the housing markets through the pandemic, we study variations in progress charges of housing costs throughout completely different areas of the UK, in addition to throughout several types of housing (equivalent to flats versus indifferent, semi-detached or terraced homes).

First, housing costs continued to develop throughout all UK areas by way of the pandemic. However costs grew sooner in areas outdoors London, particularly within the North of England, in addition to Wales and Scotland (Determine 1).

Determine 1: From the beginning of the pandemic to the tip of 2021, housing costs grew extra quickly within the North and West than within the South and London
Common 12-month housing worth progress from March 2020 to December 2021

Sources: ONS and authors’ calculations.

Costs of all housing varieties grew quickly after the pandemic began, however home costs grew extra rapidly than flat costs.

These tendencies are usually not fully new: greater progress charges for the costs of homes slightly than flats, and in areas apart from London has been seen since round 2017 (Chart 1a and 1b). What’s extra, they’re impartial: the slower progress in London is just not merely the results of the next proportion of flats there.

Chart 1a and 1b: The upper housing worth progress outdoors of London and for homes slightly than flats pre-dated the pandemic
Yr-on-year progress charges of property costs throughout the UK, by areas and housing varieties

Sources: ONS and authors’ calculations.

Did family preferences for housing shift through the pandemic?

Through the pandemic, the media reported on a ‘race for area’ narrative, suggesting elevated demand for greater homes away from metropolis centres. To test if this principle holds within the information, we recreate a model of the Workplace for Nationwide Statistic’s Home Value Index and compute what the expansion price would have been if preferences remained the identical as pre-pandemic.

To do that, we mix three information units giving us info on all housing transactions in England and Wales between 2010 and 2021, together with costs paid, detailed property traits, in addition to options of the Native Authority District the place every property is situated.

Following the ONS’s methodology, we run ‘hedonic regressions’ on every month of knowledge. These can be utilized to decompose the worth of a property into the worth households place on its observable traits, equivalent to variety of rooms, flooring measurement, property kind (flat, terraced, semi or indifferent home), and whether or not the property is a brand new construct.

For instance, if we examine a flat and a indifferent home on the identical avenue with very comparable traits (variety of rooms, flooring measurement and so forth), the indifferent home normally sells for extra as households sometimes worth homes extra extremely than flats. Equally, if confronted with two equivalent properties, however one occurs to be within the South of England and the opposite within the North, the property within the South sometimes sells for extra. The ‘race for area’ story means that the worth that’s sometimes attributed to sure traits, equivalent to property kind, measurement and placement, might have modified through the pandemic.

We use the coefficients from every month-to-month regression, along with info on the related mixture of properties transacted to compute the worth of a ‘typical’ property offered in every month. From this we will derive an index and related progress price, each of which largely observe the ONS’s collection. However they’re extra risky than the ONS’s, so we clean our collection (Chart 2).

Chart 2: The HPI and progress charges produced by our mannequin broadly tracked these produced by the ONS
HPI and progress charges produced by our evaluation in comparison with the ONS collection

Sources: Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, HM Land Registry, ONS and authors’ calculations.

Had been adjustments in housing desire through the pandemic related to fast worth progress?

In keeping with the ‘race for area’ narrative, households might have elevated their willingness to pay for homes outdoors of busy metropolis centres as an alternative of flats in densely populated areas equivalent to London. Additionally, a few of the progress in housing costs in 2021 may have been mechanically pushed by adjustments within the kinds of properties households had been shopping for in 2020. It is because the ONS combine adjusts its calculation to keep in mind family shopping for habits, nevertheless it recalculates the combo yearly.

From our calculations, slightly below 50% of the fast housing worth progress through the pandemic is related to adjustments in shopping for habits, an elevated premium paid on homes over flats, and a discount within the low cost on properties outdoors of London. We’ve not discovered a transparent sample for any of the opposite housing traits in our mannequin, equivalent to flooring measurement or variety of rooms. And whereas the premium paid on homes outdoors of London elevated, we don’t discover a corresponding discount within the willingness to pay for studios in London, which remained roughly fixed all through the interval.

Moreover, the significance of the elements we management for various over the course of the pandemic (Chart 3). The elevated premium on homes relative to flats is crucial and constant contributor, whereas the decreased low cost on properties outdoors of London performed a smaller position and was solely positively correlated with progress charges between January and August 2021. Outdoors of this era, the low cost elevated barely on common throughout areas in comparison with pre-pandemic. Alongside these elements, adjustments in shopping for habits play a small however constant position all through the entire of 2021. 

Chart 3: Our evaluation suggests an elevated premium for property varieties apart from flats performed an vital position
Impact of various elements on housing worth progress for the reason that pandemic began

Sources: Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, HM Land Registry, ONS and authors’ calculations.

Different elements are prone to have influenced housing worth progress through the pandemic

Through the pandemic, expertise made distant working possible in lots of sectors, so extra individuals may work at home. This will have altered each the kind of housing that individuals search for and the whole quantity they had been prepared to spend on housing in comparison with different items and companies. Our evaluation is particularly targeted on the previous and the way adjustments in households’ preferences might have an effect on progress in housing costs. However different elements, some commonplace and a few pandemic-related, additionally affected housing worth progress on the similar time.

On the demand aspect, each the financial coverage surroundings and authorities help to family earnings might have sustained housing demand. On the provision aspect, building got here to a halt at first of the pandemic, which can have contributed to cost pressures, however this was short-lived. Whereas related, all these forces are inclined to put uniform strain on housing costs, otherwise from the relative shifts in pricing throughout several types of property that we noticed within the pandemic.

Some pandemic-specific elements additionally affected the housing market, in ways in which may extra simply induce or mimic a shift in preferences. First, on account of restricted potentialities to spend on recreation, wealthier households particularly collected ‘pressured’ financial savings, which they might have channelled into the housing market. Second, authorities interventions to cut back the speed of Stamp Responsibility Land Tax straight supported housing demand, with the biggest financial savings accrued for transactions round £500,000. Each these elements are prone to have supported the change in preferences we noticed.

We don’t assume the change in preferences will proceed to spice up housing worth progress without end

This work gives a brand new framework for analysing the position of adjustments in preferences for explaining housing worth progress. The actual shift we checked out could possibly be transitory, if for instance the development for working from dwelling reverses, inflicting housing worth progress to unwind. However the shift may be structural, for instance hybrid types of work might persist, during which case we’d not anticipate worth progress to fully unwind due to a reversal in preferences. That mentioned, we don’t anticipate continued upwards strain on housing costs from the shift in preferences both. The strain we noticed most likely subsided as soon as households adjusted their housing decisions by shifting. In both case, different, extra conventional macroeconomic and enterprise cycle associated elements, alongside long-term provide aspect issues will proceed to drive housing costs properly past the results of the pandemic.

Martina Fazio and Gary Harper work within the Financial institution’s Monetary Technique and Danger Division.

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