Emerging trends in property

As a communications agency, it’s important to keep on top of existing and emerging trends, not just across the property sector, but the wider economy as a whole. This oversight on consumer behaviour then allows us to tailor campaigns to be more empathetic to purchasers’ circumstances, as well as spot perceptual misnomers in the market.

For example with the current cost of living crisis and house prices continuing to rise, one would assume there would be an immediate uptick in Internet searches for cheaper ways to buy, right?

From its high in January 2022, searches for ‘Shared Ownership’ have however fallen 38% over the course of the year. Yet by this October, searches for ‘is Shared Ownership worth it?’ had increased exponentially – as much as 700% according to Google Trends, so do we see a consumer rise in interest in this product, or just possible scepticism in the market?

Similarly this year, searches for the Government’s ‘First Homes Scheme’ had seen a 300% increase in traffic, but again have now fallen since its July high by 66%. Comparable search declines have also transpired on terms such as ‘First time buyer scheme’ and ‘first time home buyer’. Is this a result of the rising costs of borrowing and a resignation that the rental trap may be just that, perhaps?

Searches for ‘first time buyer mortgage’ have been fairly steady over 2022 and inputs for ‘remortgage calculator’ interestingly peaked just after the mini budget in mid-September, before tanking almost 75% in a month – echoes of the wider financial market right there. At this point in time search terms such as ‘will mortgage rates go down’ peaked as we gain insight into the nation’s psyche and thought processes.

The mini-budget also propagated a 78% spike in searches for ‘fixed rate mortgage’ as people looked to batten down the hatches for the long term. It was no coincidence that ‘winter’s coming’ then peaked as a search term in mid-October as the cost of living crisis and cost of borrowing bit down.

As we look forward, despite Rishi Sunak telling the CBI conference on 21 November that quelling small boats at the borders was its main concern, it seems that searches for ‘Recession’ as a topic are up 1,250% and searches for ‘energy saving tips’ are also up, which hints on what might actually be at the forefront of the minds of the general public.

Searches for ‘Martin Lewis’ have climbed steadily since his reintroduction to our screens, as have many topics that he has been covering – ‘electric blankets’ anyone?

Energy aside, we are hearing from our clients that there are still buyers out there – perhaps the benefits of buying a new energy efficient home have finally gained traction. The term ‘new homes’ was far more popular than ‘new homes for sale’, or ‘new homes for sale near me’ and searches for both Zoopla and Rightmove are up 70%! This could possibly be for house price estimates, rather than actual searches though as related queries of ‘Zoopla house price estimate’ and ‘Zoopla what is my house worth’ are also both up 70% too.

So the third alternative to buying outright or with Shared Ownership is to rent and for many, that is therefore staying put. In this regard, ‘flat to rent’ as a term far outweighs similar derivatives such as ‘flats near me to rent’, ‘apartment to rent’ or a sense check of ‘rental prices’. A term like ‘rental properties near me’ spiked in mid-October and according to Google Trends, has grown 190%, which points to people looking to lock into rental for the longer term, or looking for possible value in cheaper locations.

So in uncertain times with financial indices heading in the opposite direction to those that might breed confidence, where does that leave the housing market as a whole? According to Property Week, Persimmon reported cancellation rates of 28% from August to October, citing mortgage availability, or lack thereof, as the main reason. Meanwhile Savills are expecting prices to fall 10% in 2023, so a possible market correction to give hope to first time buyers and beyond.

The importance of articulating Shared Ownership as being a viable option for those still dreaming of buying, or at least part owning their own home cannot be underestimated. Continued searches for ‘what is shared ownership’ not only point to general interest in the product, but also a general lack of awareness – searches for this term are up 50% after all.

History tells us that housing always finds a way, be it through mergers, consolidation or innovation. It could also be that  modular housing and its efficiencies on energy and budget start to break through – ‘Modular homes for sale UK’ was up 70% in October searches, now wouldn’t that be progressive.

Watch this space for further developments as we assess your landscape.