Home buyers now prize the outdoor green space of areas like the Westcountry above spacious interiors and gardens, a new study shows.
Britain is fast becoming a “recreation nation” as purchasers’ priorities also include proximity to work, sports centres and bars and restaurants, a mortgage lender has revealed.
The trend comes as house prices in the South West climbed 6.3% in the year to April, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The annual jump is the fourth highest of the 12 regions – also above the UK and English average – and leaves the average property in the six-county region worth £251,000.
Richard Copus, spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents in Devon and Cornwall, said the findings chimed with experience on the ground.
“It’s true – we used to like a decent garden but now it is location, location, location,” he told the Western Morning News.
“Given the choice people would rather put up with a miniscule garden and one less bedroom if they can be close to a footpath through fields.
“It is one of the reasons a lot of people move to Devon and Cornwall, and they are prepared to accept lower wages in return for quality of life.”
The research from Santander Mortgages found that buyers would pay a premium for peace of mind, stumping up £7,000 for a safer neighbourhood along with an extra £5,900 for living alongside nicer neighbours.
However, there were decreases in those valuing extra square metres – such as garages, parking spaces, gardens or outdoor areas – while being close to family didn’t even make the top 10.
Miguel Sard, managing director of mortgages at Santander UK said: “We are becoming a recreation nation as we look to minimise the amount of time we spend travelling to and from work, and maximise the time we can spend enjoying ourselves playing sports, enjoying green spaces and socialising in bars and restaurants.”
Some 33% of Britons looking to buy a home cite closeness to work as essential making it the most important factor for home buyers in the UK, the poll of 2,000 buyers revealed.
Second at 28% came proximity to public transport as a key factor.
The number of those naming proximity to bars and restaurants has increased to 8%, up from 6% in 2011 while proximity to sports facilities has increased from 2 to 5%
Nearby access to green space remains key, cited by 17% of respondents, while the number of those valuing more space drops 2% down to 27% down from 29 per cent
Similarly, having a garage or parking has tumbled from 18% to 15%.
The findings also reveal that one in four Britons is looking to buy a new home in the next five years. On average they would pay £6,297 extra to live closer to work, more than £6,900 to move to a safer neighbourhood.
This compares to around £6,400 to be close to shops, £5,900 for nicer neighbours and over £6,300 to have eco-features such as solar panels – nearly twice what they would have paid four years ago.
Mr Sard added: “Homebuyers are increasingly sacrificing space for location and some of these sought-after features come with a big price tag.”
The latest analysis by a lender comes as the latest ONS figures showed that UK house prices increased by 5.5% in the year to April 2015, down from 9.6% in the year to March 2015.
House price annual inflation was 5.8% in England, 1.3% in Wales, 2.2% in Scotland and 8.8% in Northern Ireland.
The pace of annual house price growth fell across the majority of the UK in April 2015 while increases in England were driven by an annual increase in the East (9.6%) and the South East (8.4%).
Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 5.0% in the 12 months to April 2015.
The prices paid by first-time buyers were 5.8% higher on average than in April 2014 while existing owners saw a 5.4% rise for the same period to April.