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London only just pips Cornwall as most searched area for homes

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London only just returned to being the most popular British location among homebuyers searching online after being overtaken several times by Cornwall in the past year.

The capital has historically been the most searched for location on Rightmove, but the pandemic’s race for space and remote working saw the South West hotspot get house hunters day dreaming.

That meant that despite London’s population of nine million dwarfing Cornwall’s almost 600,000 residents, the difference in total searches during 2021 was just 3 per cent compared to a gap of 24 per cent in 2020 and 49 per cent in 2019.

This  three-bed terrace house in London's Fulham is for sale for £1.25million via estate agents Marsh & Parsons

This  three-bed terrace house in London’s Fulham is for sale for £1.25million via estate agents Marsh & Parsons

Indeed, in January and February last year, Cornwall replaced London for the highest number of searches, according to the property website.

MOST SEARCHED-FOR AREAS IN 2021
1 London
2 Cornwall
3 Devon
4 Bristol
5 Glasgow
6 Sheffield
7 Essex
8 York
9 Edinburgh
10 Dorset
Source: Rightmore 

After being overtaken again by London in March and April, Cornwall again led buyer searches from May to September, after which London led for the rest of the year.

Rightmove suggested that this reflected a change in buyer preferences last year, although many may have been window shopping.

A shift in preferences has included more people looking for homes near the coast due to a change in living priorities and the ability to work from home.

The return of London to the top of searches later in the year highlighted the city’s returning popularity, Rightmove added. 

This five-bedroom house in Cornwall's Marazion is for sale for £575,000 via Whitlocks estate agents

This five-bedroom house in Cornwall’s Marazion is for sale for £575,000 via Whitlocks estate agents

In December, Marazion in Cornwall saw weekly buyer searches increase 198 per cent, and up 148 per cent compared to last year, according to Rightmove

In December, Marazion in Cornwall saw weekly buyer searches increase 198 per cent, and up 148 per cent compared to last year, according to Rightmove

Phillip Stevens, of Richmond estate agents Antony Roberts, said: ‘London has enduring appeal, despite the allure of the countryside and coast during the pandemic and various lockdowns. 

‘While would-be buyers may have started the year thinking about relocating to the South West, by the end of the year London was back up at the top of searches as lockdown measures ended and employees started returning to the workplace.

‘As life continues to return to something approaching normality, such remote living isn’t so practical or appealing.’

He added: ‘Leafier parts of London, such as Richmond, have proved particularly popular in the past year as they offer the best of both worlds – proximity to the workplace but also with bigger homes and gardens, and within easy distance of attractive communal green spaces such as Richmond Park.

‘The return of international buyers, buoyed by London’s resilience compared with other global cities, is also contributing to more interest in central London.’

This three-bedroom house in Chadlington in the Cotswolds is for sale for £550,000 via Purplebricks

This three-bedroom house in Chadlington in the Cotswolds is for sale for £550,000 via Purplebricks

Rightmove said that Chadlington, in the Cotswolds, was third in its list of buyer search hotspots

Rightmove said that Chadlington, in the Cotswolds, was third in its list of buyer search hotspots

RIGHTMOVE’S BUYER SEARCH HOTSPOTS IN 2021
Rank Area Region Increase in searches compared to 2020
1 Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy Wales 858%
2 Hove, East Sussex South East 680%
3 Chadlington, Oxfordshire South East 211%
4 Breage, Cornwall South West 109%
5 Isle Of Man Isle of Man 95%
6 Frizington, Cumbria North West 65%
7 Huntly, Aberdeenshire Scotland 54%
8 Millport, Ayrshire Scotland 52%
9 Thorpeness, Suffolk East of England 51%
10 Allonby, Cumbria North West 45%
Source: Rightmove     
This four-bedroom semi-detached house in Rhos-on-Sea in Wales is for sale for £270,000 via Fletcher & Poole estate agents

This four-bedroom semi-detached house in Rhos-on-Sea in Wales is for sale for £270,000 via Fletcher & Poole estate agents

Rightmove also looked at areas with the biggest increase in buyer searches compared with 2020.

Rhos-on-Sea in Wales topped this list of buyer hotspots, with searches for the coastal town increasing more than nine times – up 858 per cent – compared to 2020.

The Clarkson effect 

Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has sent Cotswolds searches soaring

Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has sent Cotswolds searches soaring

Rightmove said that Chadlington, in the Cotswolds, was third in its list of buyer search hotspots. 

Searches for the area soared this year following its profile in the hit Jeremy Clarkson TV Show Clarkson’s Farm, peaking in June when they were 511 per cent higher than last year.

Hove in East Sussex came second in the list of hotspots, up 680 per cent, and Chadlington in the Cotswolds was third, up 211 per cent.

All of this year’s buyer search hotspots are either villages, or located near the sea, a sign of the increase in popularity this year for homes in coastal or countryside areas.

Rightmove also regularly tracks spikes in searches coinciding with topical or cultural events.

It found that in December, Marazion in Cornwall saw weekly buyer searches increase 198 per cent, and up 148 per cent compared to last year, following its bid to become the UK’s smallest city, as part of a competition for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

During the week leading up to the release of the thriller film ‘Last Night In Soho’ in October, buyer searches for Soho doubled – up 100 per cent – compared with the same week in October last year.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘Our search data gives us a unique understanding of how current events and culture can inspire people to imagine the life that could be in a new area, from countryside living in the Cotswolds inspired by the ‘Clarkson’s Farm’ TV show, to living in what could potentially be the UK’s smallest city in Marazion, Cornwall.’

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