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  • Alex Storey

Datasets in the City: new data for a new housing market.

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we spend our time, what we value and, consequently, what we look for in a residential location. As we try and unpick the different factors at play here, I have found it useful to reflect on my own experiences over the last 12 months. Since last March, my family and I have had the very dubious pleasure of moving country. Twice.

Spending 2019 in the blissful ignorance of pre-Covid Singapore, we had chosen to live in a condo that was well located for bars and restaurants, had a close knit community of other families and lots of shared facilities. We then transferred to the SF Bay Area in March last year, opting for the very contrasting location of a small bungalow in the quiet suburbs of Palo Alto. Not a pub within 2 miles. The only key factors we considered as Covid started to rage? A garden and a nearby park. We decided to return to the UK in December, somewhat worn out by the uncertainty of living overseas in such strange times, and have focused our house hunting on rectifying the mistake we had made in the US - nowhere to put a desk, and also trying to make sure we are close the local amenities that we have missed, for when things start to open up again.

I share this not to air our first world problems (in a period of rapidly growing homelessness, we are fortunate to have a roof over our heads at all), but to highlight the impact on residential demand factors that can occur in times of dramatic change. The degree to which these shifts continue in a post-pandemic world remains to be seen, but the tools to help us decide if a location ticks all the right boxes for here and now are increasingly available.

So, what are house hunters increasingly prioritising?

1. Much has been made of the idea of the 15 minute city, whereby all required amenities should be reachable within a 15 minute walk or bike, a concept that has accelerated in the time of Covid, but was already an established movement toward decentralised city centres. 92% of British house hunters now attach importance to living in a “sustainable community” (complete with amenities, green spaces and parks), with 50% willing to postpone moving until these factors are met.

“Buyers will pay as much as 30 percent more to live close to restaurants, gyms and other amenities. Covid-19 has accelerated that realization” - Dominic Grace, Savills

2. Though it has not historically paid off to bet against major cities like London, New York and Singapore, there certainly seems to have been a cooling of demand to live in big urban centres. Notably, the London population is in decline for the first time in over 30 years, with rapidly increasing interest in more affordable regional centres such as Bristol in the UK, Austin in Texas and Perth in Western Australia. If you don’t need to be at the big city office, then why pay big city prices?



Source: Rightmove, May 2020.

3. The type of residence we are looking for has changed also. According to Rightmove, 71% of under-40s said gardens and outdoor space had become more important. The other big priorities for many were wireless internet (48%) and a separate space to work from home (44%). Unsurprisingly, London house prices have outstripped apartment prices since the pandemic began.




How can data help?

Increasingly, new datasets are helping savvy real estate operators and speculators to understand which areas will benefit during these choppy periods.

A few ways in which REOMNIFY is helping its clients to not only endure but flourish in this uncertain period using alternative data include:

  • Leveraging our frequently updated point-of-interest datasets to help developers identify areas that will meet these growing needs for specific local amenities.

  • Drawing on satellite imagery and government data to identify the density of green spaces to contribute to "livability scores", which help house hunters find the ideal location.

  • Closely tracking demographic and footfall shifts, to better understand the changing tides in urban living, and using them to help our clients stay one step ahead of the game.

If you feel like your urban data and insights are stuck in the past, drop us a line for a chat and to learn about our free trials at info@reomnify.com.


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