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Property searches for three-bedroom houses rise by 7% as families scramble to buy in suburbs, new Zoopla data reveals

Jonathan Prynn and Abbianca Makoni
·2-min read
Howard Road in New Malden. Threats of a new lockdown have prompted a scramble for spacious suburban homes (Alamy Stock Photo)
Howard Road in New Malden. Threats of a new lockdown have prompted a scramble for spacious suburban homes (Alamy Stock Photo)

The threat of another lockdown has triggered an unprecedented “scramble for space” with three-bedroom suburban houses selling fastest of all, according to new figures.

The desire for an extra room to allow couples to work from home during and after the pandemic has already fuelled a shift in demand from flats to houses, particularly in outer London boroughs where they are cheaper.

Data from Zoopla shows that almost 28 per cent of all searches are for three-bedroom homes, up sharply from 21 per cent a year ago.

However, three-bed houses only make up 16.5 per cent of the homes on sale in the capital creating a “property gap” of 11 per cent, more than for any other housing category.

The biggest shortfalls of all are in Enfield, Waltham Forest, Harrow and Hillingdon, all outer London boroughs. The fastest sales are happening in Waltham Forest, where deals are being agreed in just 17.7 days on average, less than half the time of a year ago, followed by Bexley and Sutton, also on the fringes of the capital.

Meanwhile demand for one-bedroom flats has fallen from 17.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent of the total and two beds from 34 per cent to 30 per cent.

(Data from Savills, TWENTYCI)Data from Zoopla
(Data from Savills, TWENTYCI)Data from Zoopla

The trend suggests that London’s new property hotspots in a post-Covid era without the daily commute could be once unfashionable neighbourhoods away from West End and City offices.

Richard Donnell, research director for Zoopla, said: “Demand for three-bed houses is almost twice the availability.

Those concerned about affordability are generally looking to London’s outer boroughs, with a further proportion looking to commuter hubs in Surrey and Kent. Canterbury, Milton Keynes and Swindon are also a consideration.”

Separate figures from agents Savills and data provider TwentyCI points to the same trend with the fastest growth in sales agreed over the past month seen in outer London boroughs.

The biggest increases were in Kingston-upon-Thames, where they almost doubled from 188 to 357, followed by Waltham Forest, where they rose by 88 per cent. Of the 15 boroughs with the biggest increases in sales, only one, Lambeth, is in inner London.

Private caterer Alix Caiger said living in her one-bedroom flat in Hammersmith during lockdown was a “struggle”.

Ms Caiger, who runs her own firm Caiger & Co, and her husband had been living there for six and a half years before they managed to purchase and move into their three-bedroom house in Brentford on September 21.

The 32-year-old said: “We spent all of lockdown in a one-bedroom flat. Now we are enjoying every minute of our new home.”