The Covid-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how we all live and work. And one of the biggest changes has been the way we now use our homes.
The lines have completely blurred. Home is no longer the place you retreat to after a busy day out in the world, home IS your world.
For many people, working from home has become the new norm. Virtual face time has replaced real face time. Kitchen tables have become school classrooms. Living rooms have become makeshift cinemas and pop-up restaurants. With more and more of us spending most of our time within our own four walls, it’s no wonder that more and more of us are starting to re-evaluate what ‘home’ actually means.
Priorities have shifted
Data that was released late 2020 from multiple sources revealed that home buyers’ priorities have changed since the pandemic, and that many people searching for a new home have made a shift in their priority list.
One of the biggest shifts has been the emphasis on transport connections; while good transport connections regularly topped the list of buyer priorities, many people now working from home are, unsurprisingly, placing less importance on being able to get into town and instead focusing on space (both inside and outside).
According to Rightmove, searches for ‘homes with gardens’ is up by 42%, and over a third of buyers want to live in more rural areas (over half of enquiries from Londoners are for homes outside the city). People are searching for better home working spaces too, alongside good internet and a spare room.
As well as changes to what buyers are looking for at home, there’s also been a change in what they’re looking for in a neighbourhood.
While people have been physically distant during the pandemic, in many ways this past year has brought people closer. There’s been a real focus on ‘we’ as opposed to ‘me’ with movements like clapping for the NHS and buying from independents, it’s all about supporting local community. That’s reflected in Rightmove’s data; over half of the people surveyed said they feel a stronger sense of community than before lockdown. And, wider research has proven that a sense of community and belonging is something that’s crucial for overall heath and wellbeing.
Virtual viewings at an all-time high
The way people search for a new home has also dramatically shifted. Restrictions and lockdowns have meant it’s virtually impossible for people to visit show homes and marketing suites. And as a result, digital search is booming. On Boxing Day online portals like Rightmove and Zoopla saw record levels of visitors; Zoopla recorded a 70% increase in visitors when compared to earlier in the year. Online estate agents also reported a 130% increase in searches when compared to Boxing Day 2019*. As well as virtually searching for property, buyers are also ‘virtually viewing’, relying on 3D tours and interactive floorplans to get a feel for new homes.
So what does this mean for you?
If there’s one thing the data is telling us it’s this: when it comes to property marketing, selling four walls in traditional media just isn’t enough.
In order to spark an emotional connection and get people feeling something for your development, you need to take a digital-first, whole place approach and tap into all the things that are at the top of people’s agendas right now. Ask yourself;
- Why is your development different from the other new-build development down the road? How are you giving back to the wider community?
- How can you talk about ‘space’ and get buyers to visualise it if they can’t physically visit a show home? Whether it’s digital moodboards to get people thinking or virtual tours that inspire your audience to imagine how they’d use the internal space, bringing floor plans to life is more important than ever
- How does your scheme evoke that sense of belonging and purpose? That goes beyond just listing the community facilities you’re providing, but how those facilities will add value to residents’ everyday lives
- Consider what people need right now: green space, spare rooms, home working environments, neighbourliness… how can your scheme meet those needs?
The pandemic won’t last forever. People’s priorities will change again, so when it comes to your marketing, take a long-term view and consider how you can adapt and change too.
*This is money