Government’s flexible working proposal opens up housing options to workers

As growing numbers of companies offer flexible and home-working options to employees, new possibilities are opening up for people who were once tied to city living. 

Last week, the government announced a ground-breaking change to the way people work in the UK. An ongoing consultation looks at various flexible working options that could become standard for workers. This includes giving all employees the right to ask for home-working, job sharing and flexitime, among other things.

If the proposal goes ahead, it will drastically change millions of lives. Already, many employers have noticed the sea change and begun to offer flexibility to staff. Thousands of people are now working from home full or part-time, which means they can reassess where they need to live.

Liz Truss, minister for women and equalities, says we must “seize the opportunity”.

“No-one should be held back in their career because of where they live, what house they can afford, or their responsibility to family,” she adds.

“I want everyone to have the same opportunities regardless of the background or location. This is the right thing to do for workers, families and our economy.”

What does this mean for housing?

Covid-19 has created a major shift in how people work and live. For millions last year in particular, their home became their workplace. Many have already used this change to relocate to create a better work-life balance, as being close to the office is no longer a priority.

What buyers – and arguably renters – want from their home has inevitably changed. In the latest UK Homebuyer Wishlist from MFS, this becomes apparent. For example, the need for a garden or outside space is now a top consideration, up by one place since 2019’s survey.

The square footage of a property is another thing people look for. And broadband and mobile connectivity is more crucial than ever, up by five places since 2019. This isn’t just important for homebuyers, but landlords and investors, too, looking for their next buy-to-let.

While cities will always be a top spot for many young professionals, people are increasingly looking at commuter towns to get more for their money. For property investors, this means house prices in such areas could begin to creep up, as well as rents as demand increases. Investment and regeneration in these areas will further boost their attractiveness to both buyers and renters.

New locations opening up

According to the survey, record numbers of people swapped built-up areas for quieter towns. Transport links therefore fell down the list of must-haves. Only 67% of people put this is a top priority, down from 73% in 2019.

Even though restrictions are now fully lifted, it’s likely this will remain the same, particularly in light of the government’s announcement.

Londoners in particular changed their views thanks to the pandemic. More than half (58%) said they now would like to live in a larger property. Thanks to high prices in the city, for many this will inevitably mean a move further afield, providing a boost to commuter towns in the area.

Other cities that are likely to face the same changes include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. All of these locations continue to offer a more affordable prospect compared to London. Additionally, the commuter towns surrounding these cities should see a rise in popularity, too.

BuyAssociation has a range of property investment opportunities available, including in some of the country’s best up-and-coming commuter towns. Get in touch for more information, or sign up for free, early access to our best deals.

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