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Dominic Cummings - the Rightmove connection revealed...

He’s gone from Downing Street but the legacy of Dominic Cummings lives on in Rightmove’s top searches of 2020.

Barnard Castle - the County Durham market town Johnson’s former chief adviser visited for an ‘eye test’ whilst breaking lockdown rules - was amongst the most visited locations on the number one portal this year.

In May, when Cummings was caught out, Barnard Castle saw daily searches leap 144 per cent on Rightmove for a short period.


However the notorious location has been eclipsed by the quaint Somerset town of Bruton, which saw the biggest increase in 2020 in buyers searching for places to move to. 

The semi-rural community has seen annual buyer searches rise 72 per cent over the course of the full year, helped by being near where Sarah Beeny is building a home in Channel 4’s Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country.

The second most popular search location this year was Pitlochry in Scotland, where buyer searches increased 50 per cent compared to 2019.

The top five places with the biggest annual increases in buyer searches are completed by Aylesford in Kent, Salcombe in Devon and Lightwater in Surrey.

The rest of the top 10 is also dominated by rural and coastal areas, which Rightmove says mirrors a wider national trend of home-movers looking to relocate to more remote destinations in 2020.

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 over the past 12 months have populations under 10,000 – further highlighting the popularity of rural and small locations.

The top five local markets with the biggest year-on-year increases in sales agreed are: Welwyn, Hertfordshire (+75 per cent); Woodbridge, Suffolk (+69 per cent); Llanelli, Wales (+65 per cent); Stockbridge, Hampshire (+60 per cent); and Malmesbury, Wiltshire (+54 per cent). 

For traffic, the busiest days of the year for Rightmove are usually in the first few months, but the temporary market 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 Wednesday July 8 when the stamp duty holiday was announced and within half an hour of the announcement traffic jumped by 22 per cent.

Rightmove’s director of property data, Tim Bannister, says: “This year we’ve seen an uplift in the number of home-movers 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."


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