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Working from home is here to stay – what does this mean for the property market?

Over the past year, households have had to accommodate adults working from home as well as children learning at home. As a result, we have all become adept at identifying potential in alcoves and landings as possible workspaces, or seeking extra space with a house move.

Hackney-wfh-space

Desk space is at a premium in the average home. Over the past year, households have had to accommodate adults working from home as well as children learning at home, which most domestic spaces were simply not designed to do. Our kitchen tables are groaning under the weight of multiple laptops and our relationships are strained by clashing Zoom calls. As a result, we have all become adept at identifying potential in alcoves and landings as possible workspaces. It’s not uncommon to see makeshift offices in garages and sheds as well as in hallways and spare rooms – anywhere that might offer that highly coveted whiff of privacy.

The need for desks and privacy is driving significant numbers of property transactions, with research showing that more than half of buyers now require space to work. This is affecting how people market their properties – and desks can now be seen in most bedrooms as an indication to potential buyers that working from home is a possibility. Winkworth in Kensal Rise & Queens Park is currently marketing this five bedroom house in Mortimer Road NW10 in which the two smaller bedrooms are clearly styled as offices with beds in them, in case anyone was in any doubt that they could fit.

Saylan Lucas of Winkworth in Hackney says that 80% of properties that he’s asked to value currently have home office set-ups, most of them in kitchens or receptions, and that lots of sales are motivated by working from home. ”Lots of couples are actually deciding to sell because they have both been working from home and they need to upsize to accommodate this,” he explains. His office is marketing this one bedroom flat in Hebden Street E2, with a good-sized work space in the living area.

And of course this is affecting property values. London property prices are increasing fastest in leafier suburban areas, thanks in part to homeworkers prioritising their environment over their proximity to the office.

One popular solution to the problem of space is building a garden office, an emerging trend that has boomed over the past year. As well as creating a separate work space, a high quality garden office will certainly add value to your house, while increasing saleability too. Saylan Lucas has no trouble selling houses with garden offices in the current climate, and would advise anyone considering installing one to go ahead: "If you have a properly fitted home office in the garden with power, insulation and a decent amount of space, this will increase the appeal of your property. You may have spent around £25,000 to £30,000 installing this but you would probably see a return on that investment of up to double your original expenditure."

If the garden office isn’t an option, moving out of London might be – and working from home has caused a boom in people moving to beautiful locations on the coast or in the countryside. Instead of working from a cramped spare bedroom in London, you could be looking out at the sea or at acres of farmland, which might clear your head and increase your motivation. Spending more time at home has caused all of us to consider what we really want from our properties, and the market has become increasingly busy as a result.

Struggling with working from home? Read Steve Brown, Branch Manager at Winkworth Blackheath’s advice on setting boundaries between home and professional life here.

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