Broadband beats bedrooms for UK homebuyers

Research from global communications provider finds that fast internet access is now a top-two must-have for UK homebuyers

Research from Huawei has found that a high-speed internet connection is now ranked as the second-most important factor – above the number of bedrooms – for UK homebuyers, coming only after the size of the property.

In its study, Huawei commissioned research group Omdia, which asked 294 estate agents across the UK which single factor homebuyers rated as the most important in a property, and the top-line results highlighted the rise in importance of good-quality internet access to people’s lives.

Huawei said the survey showed that with more people working from home and relying on streaming services for entertainment, the crucial importance of connectivity for homebuyers was clearly demonstrated by the survey. The top criteria were the size of the property (23%); broadband quality (20%); number of bedrooms (18%); age of property (10%); and access to transport (9%).

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, 69% of agents have witnessed an increase in queries about the quality of the broadband connection at the property they are marketing. As many as 93% of estate agents agreed that fixed broadband is now essential for new builds, with over a third (37%) stating new builds should have at least 300Mbps connectivity.

The same percentage of respondents said existing 300Mbps broadband added at least £5,000 to the value of a property, according to 37% of property sales professionals questioned – a figure that rises to 45% in some areas in the North of England. Some 9% said the figure would be more than £10,000. Demand for fast, reliable broadband was particularly high in Scotland and the South West, where it is ranked number one. Nationwide, 38% of agents questioned said it was a top-three priority for buyers.

Of the 69% who said enquiries about broadband quality had increased since the start of the pandemic, almost three-quarters (74%) revealed those queries concerned the availability of full-fibre connectivity.

Nearly nine in 10 estate agents said their clients were looking for properties with broadband speeds greater than 100Mbps, and just over a third (34%) of buyers were looking for speeds above 300Mbps – three times higher than the current national average speed. Demand for this was particularly strong in in the North West (43%) and London (42%). Nearly a quarter (23%) wanted speeds of 1Gbps. Some 70% of agents also believed a gigabit broadband service to every home would boost or significantly boost demand for homes in their area.

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“We know reliable access to the internet and fast download speeds are increasingly important to our lives and how we entertain ourselves,” said Omdia research director Michael Philpott.

“Now, with so many people working at home and relying on the internet for things like education and healthcare, broadband availability is an essential service,” he said. “When looking for a new home, it is fundamental to their thinking and people aren’t prepared to compromise.”

Huawei executive vice-president Jeremy Thompson added: “Connectivity is now a crucial part of many people’s lives, and it comes as no surprise to us that it is the second-most important factor for UK house buyers. The pandemic really emphasised the huge importance of reliable, secure and fast broadband, and puts it firmly into the category of essential utilities like electricity and water.”

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