24th September 2018

Once upon a time, homeowners moved four times after their first purchase; now it’s more like twice. New evidence suggests that in England and Wales, many more of us are putting down roots and choosing to stay in our current homes for longer.

Research1 carried out by Dr Ian Shuttleworth of Queen’s University Belfast points to a major cultural change, and highlights that at least a million fewer people moved between 2001 and 2011 compared with 1971 to 1981.

Staying put and renovating

This trend is borne out by recent research from insurer Hiscox2. They have identified a five-fold increase in the number of homeowners who have chosen to renovate their existing home in the last five years. The choice to renovate rather than move is likely to be influenced by a range of factors such as the continued rise in house prices in some regions, predicted rises in interest rates, the additional costs such as stamp duty, the lack of suitable property on the market, tighter mortgage lending criteria and the economic uncertainty that arose after Brexit. In addition, in some parts of the country property prices have hardly moved, meaning that families can find themselves held back because they have made little or no profit on their existing home.

In 2013, the research2 showed that just 3% of homeowners chose to improve as an alternative to moving, but five years later, this figure has risen to 15%. Local council figures show that requests for planning permission have risen by 29% in the last ten years.

Outwards and downwards

People are increasingly looking to adapt their property to meet their changing needs, with an extra bedroom high on the agenda of many families. Unsurprisingly, loft extensions head the list of alterations having increased the most, up by 114%. As reports in the media have highlighted, digging out basements to create extra accommodation is becoming increasingly popular, especially in fashionable parts of London.

1Queen’s University Belfast, Fewer people moved house in the ‘00s than the ‘70s, 2018

2Hiscox, Renovations and Extensions Report, 2018