COVID-19 has turned both the rental and sales sectors of the property market upside down, introducing brand-new challenges for the average landlord, estate agent and architect.
Major players in the world of the property now have a responsibility to ensure that the market continues to function properly, while also working hard to protect everyone involved – from employees within the industry to tenants, buyers and sellers.
Of course, many millennials were struggling with the challenges of the property market long before this crisis began.
Now, as we explore ways to keep the sector running smoothly, we should also consider implementing additional changes in response to the ongoing tribulations of a generation. In this article, we’ll look at just a few of the needs that must be met.
Millennials are generally known to have a complex and often difficult relationship with the costs involved in attaining suitable accommodation – particularly as inflation has boomed far beyond the reach of average wages in recent years.
As a result, those born between 1981 and 1996 have been dubbed “generation rent”. Of course, many millennials prefer the flexibility of shorter-term accommodation, as a love of travel and regular relocation is common among this age group. Still, many others would prefer to buy if they could only afford it.
At present, property prices have hit a record high despite the significant pressures of the COVID-19 crisis.
New resources to support those millennials saving towards the purchase of their property – such as the Help To Buy ISA scheme which closed in November 2019 – could be invaluable in the fight to enable younger members of society to afford suitable housing.
When it comes to renters, the tenancy deposit cap and tenant fee ban introduced in June 2019 has gone some way towards reducing the initial financial burden of renting. However, the cost of being a tenant – particularly in major cities such as London – is still high.
One way in which millennials try to avoid the high cost of renting is by cohabiting with housemates or flatmates who are not family members.
As a result of the rise in multi-adult households, more and more HMOs (houses under multiple occupations) have been developed, enabling residents to enjoy their own space and facilities in a relatively relaxed manner without feeling cramped.
Flexible and spacious communal spaces are an important feature here, as many individuals stick to HMO arrangements for the long-term – so comfort is important.
Of course, in the time of COVID-19, special provisions must be made for individuals living in a single household who may be heading out to separate places of employment or using public transport each day.
Newly developed HMOs may need larger shared spaces that can be classed and cleaned easily, as well as corridors and entranceways that can easily support social distancing.
Long-term rental agreements can be off-putting for younger tenants. As a result, shorter arrangements and rolling contracts are gradually becoming more popular.
This is in part due to the growing preference for short term work contracts and travel. With many members of this particular generation starting families later, there is less to hold them down to a particular location.
The flexibility to be able to leave one’s rental accommodation when desired is, therefore, much more appealing than signing up for a lengthy lease.
Services and Facilities
With more demands on their time than many generations that have gone before, millennials in some areas – particularly urban centres – are displaying a preference for serviced apartments and on-site facilities such as gyms, coffee shops and bars.
This means that social activities and leisure can take place closer to home, with less time spent commuting. This can also help to reduce the use of public transport, which is important in restricting the spread of the virus.
Serviced apartments also put less pressure on time-poor individuals when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.
Access to the Outdoors
Between lockdown measures being announced in late March 2020 and those restrictions gradually easing from May onwards, the public was urged to only leave the house for exercise once per day.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, recommended that this should constitute no more than an hour’s walk. With reduced public transport and a ban on non-essential travel, many individuals had few options when it came to enjoying the outdoors under these restrictions.
As a result, many individuals realised the significance of proximity to outdoor space – and the importance of fresh air and exercise in green surroundings will hopefully be reflected in future city planning and housing developments as we move on from those difficult times.
Another major change resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is the significant current spike in home working.
Although many employees have now returned to their places of work, remote options were swiftly implemented for many businesses as the need for a lockdown gradually became apparent in early 2020. In many cases, these new resources are still heavily used.
Numerous millennials work in jobs that could be undertaken remotely. With more of this generation relying on public transport to get to work than any other age group, the home working option is safer too.
According to James Durr of UK-wide fast house sale specialists Property Solvers: “although it’s easy to generalise, property developers and investors are having to think seriously about what may well be an inevitable paradigm shift in the way young people live and work.”
As a result, more and more millennials will be looking for properties with spaces for home working – as well as quicker internet speeds and other facilities of this kind.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged society across the board, it has also brought certain issues to the forefront of the public psyche that has been requiring attention for many years.
Hopefully, as part of a bid to make the property safer and more manageable during and after this crisis, industry leaders will successfully address the issues above and take action that – according to many – is long overdue.