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By Sue Foxley

Research Director, Bidwells


Home is a shelter from storm – all kinds of storms

Just a month ago our homes felt, for many of us, to be a mere pitstop on a centrifuge of work, school, sport and ballet runs.

Reading by the fire, growing vegetables or sorting out the drawer of doom in the kitchen were aspirations never quite achieved.

That was then, this is now. For us all, our homes have taken a magnified role and meaning.


There is a considerable body of academic research investigating the topic of place attachment including the role of the home. This has important implications for older persons moving to retirement housing, young people leaving the family home and tenants that move regularly.

However, under the present circumstances the role of the home to our psychological wellbeing has more widespread interest.

Research by Scannell and Gifford (2017) investigated the psychological benefits of place attachment, that is the bond that forms between individuals and their important settings such as their town, neighbourhood and of course the home.

The research found homes are more likely than the other types of place, to provide physical and psychological comfort, and offer a sense of security. The need for our homes to be a haven in the current circumstance is understandable.

As we absorb the magnitude of how our world, in the macro and micro sense, has been transformed in a matter of weeks, we have come face to face with the reality of some quality time in our respective havens. The nation has seen its population of 3 million home workers surge to close to 20 million. Our space has been forced to multi-task as day to day domesticity competes with work, schooling, entertainment and exercise activities.

Some households will be pleased how their homes rise to the new challenges placed upon them. For others the coming months will inevitably spur a desire for change.

Analysis by MediaVision undertaken on behalf of Bidwells found a 15% increase in home searches over the week.

Perhaps this is simply a function of having time on our hands – pouring over aspirational homes was always going to trump the kitchen drawer of doom: a shortage of time was never the issue.

However, given what is being ask of our homes during this extraordinary crisis it probably unsurprising some are falling short.

It is clear life may well be different when we emerge on the other side of this filmset like reality. Perhaps a proportion of those 17 million commuters will find they are able to work from home more often as companies change their own methods, particularly in the face of the financial challenges of recovery.

Perhaps people will decide they want more space and seclusion, while others may decide they need to be closer to people after this current trauma.

Whether these aspirations are acted upon remains to be seen, although our client communications over recent weeks suggests big decisions amongst both homeowners and renters are afoot.

These new requirements will join legacy demand from the post Brexit surge cut short by the Covid-19 crisis.

Inevitably business focus will be on preparing for the anticipated onslaught when the lid is taken off society. But, creative measures to enable vendors bring their properties to market are evolving rapidly.

Innovation is rarely reversed and the estate agency business like many other business sectors will be changed by this crisis.

Those leading this change will be best placed to endure in an altered world.

*Sue Foxley is research director at Bidwells


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