U.K. Realtors See Surging Demand for Green Space in Housing
Sheep graze in a field near a farm house in the Yorkshire Dales near Malham, U.K. (Photographer: Bethany Clarke/Bloomberg)

U.K. Realtors See Surging Demand for Green Space in Housing

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(Bloomberg) -- Homes with outdoor space and fewer communal areas look set to become more desirable as the U.K. property market begins to show signs of revival after the coronavirus lockdown.

Indicators of activity compiled by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors strengthened as agents were allowed to restart viewings in England in May. A net balance of 10% of survey respondents anticipate sales picking up over the next 12 months. Price expectations remained downbeat, however, after RICS’s key index of values fell to the lowest since 2010.

While the gradual reopening of the property market comes as a relief for the industry, both buyers and sellers remain cautious amid uncertainty about the pace of the recovery and job security.

It may also exacerbate some of the inequality issues exposed by the pandemic. Buyers are likely to increasingly favor properties with gardens or balconies and greater private space, and turn away from tower blocks and urban areas, RICS said.

The pandemic has already widened the gap in death rates between better-off and less-affluent neighborhoods, according to a separate Institute for Fiscal Studies report published Thursday.

Covid-19 risks creating even greater disparities in wages and employment, health, education and between different ethnicities and genders, it said. The report found that lower earners are more likely to work in shut-down sectors and be furloughed, while women have taken on a disproportionate amount of the additional childcare and housework caused by the closure of schools and nurseries.

It did identify some potentially positive trends though, such as remote working that may benefit working mothers. The pandemic also has the potential to shift gender norms and allow more high-paid jobs outside of London.

“The crisis has laid bare existing inequalities and risks exacerbating them, but some of its legacies might also provide opportunities,” said Robert Joyce, deputy director at IFS. “If, for example, we can limit now the severity of career disruption, the widening of health and educational inequalities, or the extent to which small firms that had a productive future are squeezed out by larger established competitors, policy’s job in years to come will be much less difficult.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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