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Cities and Flats are Back! Demand switches from rural to urban

An analysis of over 1.6m listings by Rightmove shows a big return to normality - demand for smaller city centre properties rising, and rural demand dropping.

The portal says in the past year bigger family homes were the strongest performers, but this has now shifted to flats: flats saw the biggest jump in demand between April and January, an uplift of 39 per cent.

This demand is measured by the number of people contacting agents to request more details about a property for sale on Rightmove.


It appears the easing of Covid restrictions has increased the appeal of living in a city centre, with some cities seeing demand jump as high as 76 per cent in York city centre, followed by a 62 per cent jump in Norwich and a 57 per cent rise in Sheffield.

Looking at some of the biggest city centres across Great Britain the average jump in demand in April compared to January of this year was 35 per cent. This compares to 32 per cent in buyers looking to move to a village.

Similarly, if you look at all urban locations and all rural locations across Great Britain, the growth in demand for urban locations is now outperforming rural areas for the first time since before the pandemic started.

In London, local areas further out are still seeing the biggest increases in demand, but overall Inner London boroughs are only slightly behind Outer. 

Inner London saw a jump of 30 per cent in buyer demand compared with January, while Outer London is up by 34 per cent. 

Flats in the capital have also seen a jump in demand, up by 33 per cent and coming in second place just behind bungalows - they’re up 41 per cent.

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister says: “These are early signs but they certainly point to some good news for city centres across Great Britain, with a number of agents now telling me they’ve seen a marked uptick in demand from first-time buyers, and they’re managing to sell city centre flats more quickly than in earlier months of the year. 

“People starting to venture in to their local high streets and once again experiencing the buzz of their city centres, along with greater mortgage availability for first-time buyers, means city centres are staging a much-needed comeback in the market. 

“Right now some buyers are able to grab a relative city bargain compared to the heady price growth outside cities, but these early signs of demand could be the start of city prices rising again, so for those home-hunters who have their sights set on a city centre flat now is the time to see what’s available.”


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