Where Britons want to live revealed: Rural and coastal areas have seen the biggest surge of interest from buyers – and Bruton, Somerset tops the list thanks to Sarah Beeny
- The locations with the biggest surge in views on Rightmove are all rural or coastal
- Bruton in Somerset tops the rankings, with a 72% annual increase in buyer searches this year
- The outskirts of Bruton is where TV’s Sarah Beeny is building her new family home
- Channel 4’s Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country follows her move to the South West
The rural and coastal areas that have seen the biggest surge in online property viewings this year have been revealed – with the Somerset village where TV’s Sarah Beeny has created her new life in the country topping the list.
Bruton in Somerset leads the way, with a 72 per cent increase in buyer searches, according to the list compiled by Rightmove.
Locations close to the coast and in more rural areas make up the entire top ten locations that have seen the biggest rise in people searching for homes on Rightmove.
Bruton is followed by Pitlochry in Scotland, up 50 per cent, and Aylesford in Kent, which has seen a 48 per cent increase in views on the property website.
Bruton has become a well-known feature of fans of Sarah Beeny’s new television show that follows her move out of London last year and the building of her new home on the outskirts of the Somerset village.
After selling her London home after advertising it for £3.5million, she bought a 220 acre farm near Bruton.
The data compares 2019 with this year, although this year’s data only runs up to December 14.
The Channel 4 show, called Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country, sees the home renovation queen, her artist husband and four sons adapt to country living.
The theme of moving to the country has been a big feature of the housing market this year amid the pandemic.
People have sought more space both indoors and outdoors following the first lockdown that saw people restricted to their homes for hours on end every day.
The top five places with the biggest annual increases in buyer searches are completed by Salcombe, Devon and Lightwater, Surrey.
What other trends were there?
Back in May there was a more fleeting trend when Barnard Castle saw daily searches leap 144 per cent, after it was reported that Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser visited the area during the initial lockdown period.
In terms of the nation’s rental hotspots, the top three places in Britain that have seen the biggest annual increases in rental searches are Cambridge at 34 per cent, Stockport at 31 per cent, and Rye at 27 per cent.
Rightmove’s review of the year found that seven of the top 10 areas that have seen the biggest rises in the number of sales being agreed in the past 12 months have populations under 10,000, further highlighting the popularity of rural locations.
The top local markets with the biggest year-on-year increases in sales agreed are Welwyn in Hertfordshire, which saw an increase of 75 per cent, Woodbridge in Suffolk, up 69 per cent, Llanelli in Wales – which is up 65 per cent.
The top five local markets also include Stockbridge in Hampshire, which is up 60 per cent, and Malmesbury in Wiltshire, which is up 54 per cent.
For prices, it’s suburban areas in the North West near Liverpool and Manchester that saw the biggest growth this year.
Eccles, home of the iconic cakes and located west of Manchester, has seen a bigger annual increase in average asking prices than anywhere else in Britain, up 16 per cent. The national average increase is 6.6 per cent, according to Rightmove.
It said average asking prices in the town are up from £184,299 last year to £213,706 this year.
Six other locations across Greater Manchester and Merseyside complete the top 10 property price hotspots in 2020, with Wavertree up 12.2 per cent and Chadderton up 10.9 per cent, taking second and third places respectively.
For traffic, the busiest days of the year are usually recorded in the first few months, but the temporary closure and subsequent mini-boom from May onwards, plus the introduction of the temporary stamp duty holiday in July, saw Rightmove record over 200 of its busiest ever days in 2020.
Daily visits surpassed eight million for the first time on July 8, when the stamp duty holiday was announced. And within half an hour of the announcement, traffic increased 22 per cent.
Rightmove’s Tim Bannister said: ‘This year we’ve seen an uplift in the number of homemovers escaping to the country and we think this trend will continue for now as people show their willingness to make significant life changes.
‘The data highlights just how influential the unexpected events of this year have been in shaping the nation’s housing priorities, with many buyers determined to swap city streets for rural and coastal retreats.’
Glynis Frew, of Hunters Estate Agents, said: ‘2020 has given many people time to reset and reprioritise, with a focus on lifestyle. From a better work-life balance to the need for outside space, we have a renewed sense of what matters to us.
‘For some, this means finally making that dream rural or coastal move, safe in the knowledge that they can work remotely for the majority of the time while coming into the office a few times a month.
‘For those in certain digital-led industries, the possibilities are almost limitless – a good Wi-Fi connection is all they need.’
Richard Speedy, of estate agent Strutt & Parker, added: ‘This year in the West Country we’ve seen around three times the regular number of applicants, and in the last weeks of 2020 are witnessing at least double the number of interested buyers compared to the same period in 2019.
‘This year, people have become increasingly curious as to what they can get in the countryside, with many finally deciding to take the plunge.
‘Coastal locations have seen a boom in popularity as people look for a change in lifestyle.
‘Hotspots along the coast allow residents to enjoy activities on the water, access the beach, and brilliant coastal walking while also maintaining the ever-important tight-knit community aspect.
‘With the majority unable to travel abroad this year, the staycation trend has highlighted the benefits of the British countryside and coastline, leading to a surge in interest from first and second-home buyers, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, wanting their own slice.
‘What’s quite interesting, in the last couple of months, is the increasing number of professionals in the financial sector being given a greater amount of flexibility when it comes to working location.
‘Many have been given the option of working remotely, with required time in the office limited to just a couple of days a month.
‘As a result, a rising number of relatively high net worth individuals and their families are heading to the South West in search of the rural, or coastal, idyll.
‘Priorities have changed – being within a one hour’s radius of London is no longer a must-have requirement and, as a result, people are looking to buy larger homes than they would have previously considered, with most requiring one, if not two, home office spaces to be able to work remotely.’
Tom Parker, of Zoopla, said: ‘More space and a desirable location have been the primary drivers of home moves as a result of lockdown measures, with households across the country making a once in a lifetime reassessment of their property and whether it lives up to what they want and need.’