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Buyers search for homes near commuter stations as workers return to offices

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Buyers search for homes near commuter stations as workers return to offices
'More people are starting to return to the office for at least a few days a week, and so quick routes into major cities are rising up the priority list again,' said one expert. Photo Nathan Stirk/Getty

Workers returning to the office after working from home during lockdown has led to a jump in buyer searches for commuter stations between June and August, according to new data from Rightmove.

The biggest jump was seen in Chelmsford, Essex where searches have more than doubled, rising 107%.

Overall searches for stations remained steady in June compared to August, but commuter stations outside of London saw a notable increase as more employees began to commute into work again, at least for part of the week.

Sittingbourne Station in Kent, an hour’s train commute from London, saw a 47% jump in buyer searches, while Crewe, under an hour from Birmingham, saw a 32% rise. Chesterfield, from which commuters can reach Sheffield by train in as little as 12 minutes, saw a jump of 30%.

Read more: Hospitality labour crunch as low-paid risk being priced out of UK tourist hotspots

Eight of the top ten stations outside of London that have experienced the greatest rise in buyer searches are all within an hour train commute from a major city. 

The other two stations in the top ten, Liverpool Lime Street and Southampton Central, are in central city locations, suggesting that some people want to move closer to their workplace.

Increase in buyer searches for commuter stations
Eight of the top ten stations outside of London that have experienced the greatest rise in buyer searches are all within an hour train commute from a major city. Photo: Rightmove

Meanwhile the opening of two new stations on the London Underground's Northern Line, Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station, last week has created even more commuter choice. 

Searches for Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station soared 206% on their opening day compared to the previous Monday, and searches were up 87% across the first four days of the week, compared to the previous week, according to Rightmove.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data said: “More people are starting to return to the office for at least a few days a week, and so quick routes into major cities are rising up the priority list again.

Read more: UK house prices hit record high yet again

"Though some stations such as Chelmsford are always popular, the notable increase from June to August while overall searches for stations remained stable, suggests the growing importance of the morning commute for those who don’t work locally. 

"While the demand to relocate or search for more space has by no means gone away, the numbers suggest that this will need to be balanced with easy transport access on office days, which has understandably been lower on the agenda for many over the last eighteen months.”

UK house prices hit a record high yet again in August, rising to an average of £235,000 ($322,270), according to Zoopla's monthly House Price Index (HPI).

Average annual house price growth increased by 6.1% in August — over double the rate of growth compared to a year before.

Watch: Am I wasting my money by renting?

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