A front or back garden is having a dramatic upward impact on the price of property during the pandemic.
And property agents across Belfast say the surge of interest in new homes post-lockdown has meant a supply shortage of homes with spacious gardens.
Potential buyers with no outlet for their cash during the lockdown have crowded home viewings, making July and August the busiest summer months on record for many property professionals.
But while the mini-boom has triggered a rise in housing prices, experts believe house prices could fall later this year.
Conversely, rents have become keener as new properties — including houses previously let as Airbnb accommodation — are introduced to the market by owners. An expected dip in prices after the lockdown didn’t materialise with most estate agents saying most sellers are getting their asking price or higher.
However, the biggest rise in price is being enjoyed by sellers who can offer spacious front or back gardens.
“The reality is that anyone looking for a home wants to make sure that they have their own space outdoors if this new coronavirus era is to continue,” says Tony Donnelly of Northern Property. “If you are working from home and don’t have a garden to relax in or to take a break in, then, by now, you will be absolutely stir-crazy. With no sign of government workers being summonsed back to work, we are seeing more enquiries about the availability of homes with garden space from young couples who are in apartments.”
Civil servant Gráinne McAteer (31), who has been searching for a new home from the start of the year told Property Pulse her priorities had changed during the lockdown. “When we started looking, both my partner and myself were keen to explore the option of going high in one of the city centre apartment blocks. We live in a small terraced space with no garden front or back but that wasn’t an issue before the virus struck. But after five months with both of us working from home, we have grown increasingly envious of friends who have a garden – no matter how small. So our search has not only widened to include homes with gardens but, to be honest, I can’t imagine us making a deal for a new place which doesn’t have a garden.”
While this might be good news for sellers, the bad news for buyers is that homes with gardens are expected to increase in price by up to three per cent over the next three months.
Danny McGeown of McGeown Property on the Lisburn Road says a garden attached to a property gives a seller "a distinct advantage" in today's market.
"The lockdown has fuelled demand from buyers for more space, including outdoor space," he told belfastmedia.com. "If a buyer has a two-bedroom house, now they're looking for three bedrooms so they can use one as an office and work from home as well as a wee bit of a garden. It's very clear that during lockdown in particular, a garden was a real boon for mental health and wellbeing."
Danny says that the demand for new homes post-lockdown has "come in waves". "Money is cheap," he said. "It's cheaper to borrow than to rent and as far as I can see there is no evidence yet that the property market is going to slump in the near future."