The race for space – how coronavirus led to the great Shropshire migration

Samuel Wood Directors, Russell Griffin and Andrew Cadwallader take a look at the last 12 months in the local property market:

An extra 500,000 people have moved house in the last 12 months in the UK and annual house prices were up by 10 percent at the last count, according to Forbes, which, in the middle of and a result of a pandemic, defies all logic.

That’s the opinion of Russell Griffin, Co-Director at Samuel Wood Estate Agent and Midlands Regional Executive on the Propertymark Board, who has seen unprecedented activity in the housing market over the past 18 months.

“I have been an estate agent in our county for over 30 years and during the pandemic I’ve been invited to talk about the pull of regional and rural areas like own.

“In the BBC interview I took part in in the summer of 2020, just months after initial lockdown, I talked about the ‘maxi boom’ we were experiencing. At the time, pent up demand in the market caused a huge spike in property sales and letting. This has all led to the national increase in house prices which we have seen, by and large, continuing month on month.

“A demand for more spacious and environmentally healthy living really drove the market and was spurred on the temporary reduction in stamp duty that, not only helped many second and third step buyers, but also galvanised holiday home and buy-to-let purchasers – many of whom looked to places like Shropshire,” he said.

The BBC report stated that city residents contacting estate agents to buy a home in a village rose by 126 percent in June and July 2020 compared to the same period the year before, outperforming a 68 percent uplift from people in cities enquiring to towns.

Andrew Cadwallader added: “Fast forward to now, and the latest stats from the Housing Market Report, state that on average nationally, there are currently 24 buyers per available home on the market.”

But just what is it about places like Shropshire that have galvanised this race for space?

“Well, earlier this year The Times reported that Church Stretton for example, was just shy of the top 20 best places to move to in the whole of the UK,” said Andrew.

“People have been moving out of the cities in their droves to ‘quirky ‘places, just like Church Stretton. Small enough to remain tranquil, but with an ever-increasing gastro buzz, individual shops and cafes, that awe-inspiring landscape on its doorstep and access to Wales and the wider midlands and north. What’s not to love?

“Factor in the fact that the drivers have changed. People want more open space of their own after being ‘forced’ to experience it more during lockdown. Homes with capacity for home working and homes that suit an almost newly developed way of living. Many, many people have switched to home working and estate agents, like all sectors have also adapted, switching to virtual ways of working,” he added.

Russell said: “I speak to lots of Propertymark colleagues and we are all reporting the same. Everyone wants to be one step removed. Everyone is moving differently which is really an effect of Covid. All of the Shire’s have become destination places.

“We’ve found the drive into our part of the midlands has been phenomenal, since day one of lockdown. You could never have written it.

“I have described the current situation in the winter of 21/22 as ‘chicken and egg’, with people not sure what to do. But with the number of buyers still backed up for each property and the house prices reaching record highs, it’s generally a good time to sell.

“I have obviously been a long-term advocate of our beautiful county and my advice would be that finding an agent with a national reach at times like this is a very sensible idea,” he added.






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