The Chelmsford property landscape is constantly evolving, shaped by societal, economic and cultural factors.
The type of properties people have bought in the last few years since Lockdown One has undergone some notable changes, reflecting shifting preferences and lifestyle choices.
This article explores the transformations in property purchasing trends over the last two years, compared to the long-term almost three-decade average, with a focus on Chelmsford detached houses, semi-detached houses, terraced houses and apartments.
For the purposes of this article, I am looking at Chelmsford plus a 1-mile zone around the city.
Chelmsford Detached Houses: A Shift Towards Modernity
Detached houses, long considered the epitome of homeownership, have witnessed a transformation in Chelmsford buyer preferences. While they still hold significant appeal, particularly for Chelmsford families seeking privacy and ample space, the demand for Chelmsford detached properties in the last couple of years has decreased, when compared to the previous average of the last three decades. This shift started before lockdown and can be attributed to several factors, including changing demographics, the way people live, varying land costs and evolving lifestyles that prioritise convenience and urban living.
Between 1995 and 2020, 8,914 detached homes sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 27.1% of all the property sales in those 26 years.
In the last two years (2021 & 2022), 804 detached homes sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 22.3% of all the property sales in those 2 years, a proportional drop of 17.7%.
Chelmsford Semi-Detached Houses: Balancing Space and Affordability
Chelmsford semi-detached houses have lost their position in the pecking order of the Chelmsford property market over the past three decades, even though they strike a balance between the space offered by detached houses and the affordability of terraced houses. Their appeal to both Chelmsford families and young professionals looking for more spacious living arrangements remains good.
In the other parts of the East in recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for well-presented mature extended semi-detached houses as homeowners increasingly seek larger properties that accommodate work-from-home setups and additional living spaces for multi-generational living. This trend suggests a growing emphasis on both comfort and adaptability within the modern home. However, we don’t have many of those in Chelmsford.
Between 1995 and 2020, 10,268 semi-detached homes sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 31.3% of all the property sales in those 26 years.
In the last two years (2021 & 2022), 1,001 semi-detached homes sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 27.8% of all the property sales in those 2 years, a proportional drop of 11.0%.
Chelmsford Terraced Houses: Embracing Urban Living
Chelmsford terraced houses have witnessed a resurgence in popularity with many new home builders utilising the modern ‘town house’ in a three-storey format. These houses in modern suburban areas provide a contemporary take on this traditional property type, attracting younger Chelmsford buyers looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle without sacrificing space (as they are built over three floors).
Then we have the Victorian terraced home which offers a blend of affordability, convenience and a sense of community tracing its history back over 100+ years. Young professionals, couples and small families are attracted to the charm and character of these properties, the generous square footage and close to the city centre location, often means the need for a car is reduced.
Between 1995 and 2020, 6,954 terraced homes sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 21.2% of all the property sales in those 26 years.
In the last two years (2021 & 2022), 837 terraced homes sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 23.3% of all the property sales in those 2 years, a proportional increase of 9.9%.
Chelmsford Apartments: The Rise of Vertical Living
Perhaps the most significant transformation in property type preferences over the past three decades can be observed in the increased popularity of apartments in the UK. Rapidly rising land costs and a growing desire for low-maintenance living have propelled the demand for apartment living to new heights.
Apartments offer a range of benefits, including affordability, security, access to amenities and a lock-and-leave lifestyle. Millennials and young professionals are drawn to the convenience and vibrant urban environments that apartments often provide. Additionally, the growing focus on sustainable living and reduced carbon footprints has further fuelled the demand for high-density housing options. Also, the issue of cladding which has become a great worry is hopefully on its way to being sorted.
Between 1995 and 2020, 6,703 apartments sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 20.4% of all the property sales in those 26 years.
In the last two years (2021 & 2022), 956 apartments sold in the Chelmsford area, representing 26.6% of all the property sales in those 2 years, a proportional increase of 30.2%.
This is particularly interesting when we compare the Chelmsford stats to the national picture. Detached houses have seen an increase in demand from 34% of sales a decade ago to 39% last year, semi-detached houses have maintained their appeal and increased from 26% to 28% in the last decade. Terraced houses have witnessed a drop from 26% a decade ago to 21% last year and finally apartments have slightly increased from 11% to 12%.
The property preferences in Chelmsford have experienced notable shifts over the past two years compared to the long-term average of the last three decades. As Chelmsford’s property landscape continues to evolve, it is crucial to analyse these shifting preferences to understand the needs and desires of potential Chelmsford homeowners (and tenants).
Of course, detached houses remain a peak of home ownership, yet as the Chelmsford market is adapting to cater to changing demographics, urbanisation and evolving lifestyles, this might start to change in the coming decade.
By recognising and responding to these trends, homeowners, buy-to-let landlords and planners and developers can ensure that Chelmsford’s property market continues to thrive and meet the demands of the future.