The Covid-19 crisis has forced many of us to reassess the way we live and work.

Working from home may not quite be the new standard for everyone, but it is the new normal for a lot of people and looks set to stay that way for the foreseeable future, and a new study suggests that this may be influencing house hunter’s priorities.

While the size of a property remains the most important factor for UK house buyers, a high-speed internet connection now ranks the second most important factor for UK house buyers – and above the number of bedrooms.

In some areas, connectivity is now the single most important consideration for people buying a home, research shows.

A good broadband connection could add more than £5,000 to the price of your house, according to 37% of property sales professionals questioned – a figure that rises to 45% in some areas in the North of England.

Research group OMDIA asked 294 estate agents across the UK which single factor homebuyers rated as the most important in a property and the results clearly illustrate the rise in importance of good quality internet access to people’s lives:

  1. Size of property – 23%
    2. Broadband quality – 20%
    3. Number of bedrooms – 18%
    4. Age of property – 10%
    5. Access to transport – 9%

Demand for fast, reliable broadband is particularly high in Scotland and the Southwest, where it is ranked number one. Nationwide 38% of agents questioned said it was a top three priority for buyers.

Since the start of the pandemic, 69% of agents have witnessed an increase in queries about the quality of the broadband connection at a property they are marketing.

Some 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.

Some 37% of respondents said existing 300mbps broadband added at least £5,000 to the value of a property while 9% said the figure would be over £10,000

With more people working from home and relying on streaming services for entertainment, the crucial importance of connectivity for homebuyers is clearly demonstrated by the survey commissioned by global tech leaders Huawei.

Other findings include:

  • Of the 69% who said enquiries about broadband quality had increased since the start of the pandemic, almost three quarters (74%) said those queries concerned the availability of full fibre connectivity
  • Nearly 9 in 10 estate agents stated that their clients were looking for properties with broadband speeds greater than 100Mbps.
  • 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 Northwest (43%) and London (42%). 23% wanted speeds of 1Gbps
  • 70% of agents also believe a gigabit broadband service to every home would boost or significantly boost demand for homes in their area

“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. When looking for a new home, its fundamental to their thinking and people aren’t prepared to compromise.”

Huawei Executive vice president Jeremy Thompson commented: “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.”