Many companies are likely to keep staff at home at least some of the time - Andrew Matthews/PA
Many companies are likely to keep staff at home at least some of the time – Andrew Matthews/PA
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

The shift to working from home will lead to a drop in demand for properties in the commuter belt, estate agents have said.

Companies are understood to be exploring ways to make their workforce more flexible with some analysts predicting a permanent shift in attitudes to the office.

This will lead buyers to look further afield for a place to live as they prioritise space and rural living over proximity to the office, according to estate agents, and could mean the traditional commuter belt is “expanded or repositioned”. 

Jeremy Leaf, an estate agent based in North London, said that there was some evidence that people are moving further out, but that currently people leaving the commuter belt are being replaced by people moving out of cities like London.

“People are saying they don’t mind being further out. They might be in East Anglia but if you are only going to the office once a week then that long journey won’t be such a burden,” he said.

“I think longer-term, or even medium-term, there could be some price adjustment.”

Ben Johnston, director of property buyer app Houso, said: “Since Covid-19, buyers have shown a clear interest in more rural properties. 

“It will be interesting to see where this leaves the commuter belt which is potentially going to expand or re-position due to this. 

“Whether commuter-belt residents opt for something more rural still remains to be seen, but there is definite interest in properties with a decent-sized garden, good internet and designated home-working spaces.”

However, not all agents are convinced.

Savills said that while a desire to improve work-life balance has become a major driver in the market, the Home Counties are currently seeing strong demand.

Lawrence Bowles, a director at the firm, said: “Commuter locations that also have a strong local offering will continue to do well. They’re convenient for getting to the London office two or three times a week while also offering the pubs, shops and primary schools people are looking for the rest of the time.

“Dormitory towns, where you have a train station and not much else, will be less attractive than those offering a real community feel.”

Henry Pryor, an independent buying agent, said: “I’m not expecting houses in the commuter belt to fall further than any other areas. People who still have to go to the office two or three times a week will still want to live there.”

Are you looking to leave the commuter belt behind for the countryside? Tell us in the comments section below.