People leaving the capital during Covid in favor of a quieter life in the country are looking for homes in London at the highest rates since the pandemic began.
Brits are looking to return to the city after offices, pubs and restaurants reopen, according to online estate agent Rightmove.
In contrast, searches in the south-west coastal counties of Devon and Cornwall – two of the property hotspots of the pandemic – fell by almost a fifth this year compared to 2021.
Home searches have increased by 9 per cent in London, maintaining its position as the country’s most popular search destination.
Home searches are only 3 per cent higher in London than in Cornwall in 2021, due to the Covid-induced popularity of rural homes. This year the gap has widened to 36 per cent, the highest since the pandemic began.
The most searched places on Rightmove in 2022 were Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester, followed by London, Cornwall and Devon.
Edinburgh, Sheffield, York and Cambridge rounded out the rest of the top ten.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s head of data, said: “People searching for their next home have well and truly returned to the capital.”
“We started to see the tide turning towards the end of last year, and through 2022 a lot of our trends in the market started going back to 2019.”
After being confined to their homes for weeks on end, many sought to move out of towns and cities and into the countryside in the first year of the pandemic.
Estate agents dubbed this the “race for space”, with buyers demanding larger gardens and an extra room that could serve as an office as they began working from home.
The trend has boosted house prices in rural areas and led to London, which for years was the main driver of the country’s property market, underperforming every other region.
Agents across the country are gearing up for what is expected to be a busier start to the new year than usual, given that some movers delayed their plans after mortgage chaos from mini-budgets and aggressive interest rate hikes.
Bannister said: “We’ve seen a bunch of people over the last few months assess their options and consider what they can afford, and what might motivate them into next year’s fixed-rate The mortgage should fall as expected.”