A moving experience

While many of the reasons for moving vary across the UK, ‘quality of life’ is undeniably the primary motivating factor.

31 March 2014, Words by Kirsty Lemond


Moving house is a big decision and what motivates buyers to take the plunge varies depending on age, geographical location and price bracket.

Yet, across all demographics, there is one clear reason which matters to all home movers – quality of life. Over 90% of respondents to our survey chose this as a reason to move, no matter whether they are looking for the peace and quiet of the countryside or the buzz of an urban environment.

Interestingly, buyers’ motivations vary across the UK. Buyers making the move from London out to the regions want to leave the urban environment behind them and become part of a better neighbourhood.

Schools are a big draw and with fierce competition in London, parents often find schools in the country have fewer entry barriers.

In the south of England, moving up or down the ladder are the key drivers of the market, featuring at number two or three on the list of what motivates our respondents to move.

In the south east a third of buyers are looking to upsize, compared to just a quarter looking to downsize. This imbalance is likely to create competition for family housing stock and in turn may push up house prices.

The picture is more balanced in the south west and east, although, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the number of coastal retiree hotspots in the regions, downsizing takes the lead.

Across the rest of the UK, downsizing is less of a motivation as buyers are more likely to be moving for employment reasons and to be closer to family and friends.

Table 2.1

Buyers looking to upsize are evident across the country. The key motivation for the majority of our upsizing survey respondents is more space and especially more external space. It is therefore unsurprising that 70% of buyers who are upsizing want to do so in a rural location, often moving out of an urban environment where space comes at a premium.

Those upsizing in their 30s are often doing so in anticipation of a growing family and schools are top of their agenda. However, to live near a top school comes at a cost. Our analysis in partnership with the Good Schools Guide shows that the average house price premium for living near a good school is 24%.

Buyers in their 40s are prepared to spend the most on their property. They are looking to invest both money and time as 82% would be happy to buy a renovation project.

As the housing market continues to improve, we expect to see an increase in the number of transactions. Existing home owners looking to upsize, particularly those with a pot of existing equity, will be the major beneficiaries of the improving mortgage market and economy. However, buyers will still be looking to make their equity go further and, as our survey shows, move to somewhere with more space. This results in a ripple effect as wealth flows out of the prime city environment to the suburbs and then on to the more rural locations.

Graph 2.1

Two-thirds of all housing wealth tied up in owner occupied homes is held by the over 60s. Around 55,000 homeowners downsize each year, releasing equity of around £7 billion. This money is often used to help younger family members to get on the housing ladder. However, our survey shows that downsizing to release equity is not the key motivation.

The most popular reason for downsizing is to buy a property which is easier to manage, followed by lower running/ maintenance costs. The latter is particularly evident for those selling a £2m+ home who want to release themselves from the burden and costs of maintaining a large home.

Downsizers are often making the move from the countryside to an urban location with more conveniences on their doorstep. New build property is appealing with over 50% of downsizers happy to buy one compared to just 30% of buyers in their 30s.

Clearly, developing the appropriate type of new build stock is key to increasing the number of downsizers. If an additional 2% of the over 60s downsized each year to a new build property, this could increase housebuilding by 40,000 as well as releasing an equal number of family homes into the market.

Graph 2.2



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