Wednesday 17 June, 2015

Britain is increasingly becoming a "recreation nation", according to new research(1) from Santander Mortgages. The figures reveal that cutting the daily commute and having nearby access to leisure facilities such as green space, sports facilities, bars and restaurants is becoming more important for those looking to buy a home, while features of the property itself are becoming less important.

Cutting the daily commute is the most important factor for homebuyers, with 33 per cent of Brits looking to buy a home citing closeness to work as essential and 28 per cent naming proximity to public transport as a key factor, more than any other categories.

House hunters are increasingly looking to maximise their free time by buying properties near leisure facilities, with increases in the number of those naming proximity to bars and restaurants since the research was last conducted in 2011(2) (8 per cent, up from 6 per cent in 2011) and proximity to sports facilities (5 per cent, up from 2 per cent). Nearby access to green space remains key, cited by 17 per cent of respondents.

In contrast, features inside the home are becoming less important to prospective homebuyers, with decreases in those valuing more space (27 per cent, down from 29 per cent); having a garage or parking (15 per cent, down from 18 per cent); a south-facing garden (12 per cent, down from 18 per cent); and a private outdoor area (11 per cent, down from 14 per cent).

Those seeking to buy are also shunning their nearest and dearest in favour of increasing the quantity and quality of their leisure time, with closeness to family and friends both seeing decreases in the percentage of home buyers who see them as essential.

While moving into an area with strong broadband signal has increased in importance over the past four years, it is still only an essential factor 10 per cent of home movers.

Miguel Sard, Managing Director of Mortgages, Santander UK said: "We are becoming a recreation nation as we look to minimise the amount of time we spend travelling to and from work, and maximise the time we can spend enjoying ourselves playing sports, enjoying green spaces and socialising in bars and restaurants."

The findings reveal that one in four Brits (26 per cent) is looking to buy a new home in the next five years. On average they would pay £6,297 extra to live closer to work. The average buyer would pay over £6,900 to move to a safer neighbourhood, a four per cent premium on the average UK house price(3). This compares to around £6,400 to be close to shops, £5,900 for nicer neighbours and over £6,300 to have eco-features such as solar panels – nearly twice what they would have paid four years ago.

Miguel Sard continued: "Homebuyers are increasingly sacrificing space for location. Some of these sought-after features come with a big price tag, so it is important that they seek advice from experts to better understand what they can and can’t afford. We have a wide variety of mortgage products available to suit every customer’s needs- whether a first-time buyer, a home mover or if you’re simply looking to find a better mortgage deal. Looking around for the right product can make a big financial difference."

- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to Editors

  1. Research of 2,000+ adults conducted by Opinium Research, 19th-22nd May 2015.

  2. Research of 2,000+ adults conducted by Opinium Research, 10th – 12th May 2011.

  3. Land Registry House Price Index April 2015 – average house price is £179,817.

If you want more information or would like to speak to a prospective homebuyer case study, please get in touch.

Table 1: Main priorities for all homeowners who plan to move

Factor % Percentage of those planning to buy a new home in the next five years who list this as a main priority(1)
(2011 figures in brackets)(2)
Average extra amount those who plan to buy a new home in the next five years would be willing to pay to have this feature among those willing to pay more(1)
(2011 figures in brackets)(2)
Proximity to work 33% (33%) £6,297 (£5,354)
Proximity to public transport links  28% (21%) £4,925 (£3,529)
More space 27% (29%) £10,207 (£10,212)
Catchment area of a good school 19% (15%) £6,275 (£5,663)
Proximity to green space 17% (17%) £5,969 (£5,400)
Garage/parking space 15% (18%) £7,682 (£5,883)
Proximity to shops  15% (14%) £6,388 (£4,101)
South-facing garden 12% (18%) £5,413 (£3,679)
Good investment potential  12% (13%) £10,379 (£8,371)
Access to a private outdoor area 11% (14%) £7,548 (£7,025)
A strong broadband signal  10% (6%) £5,529 (£2,300)
Proximity to family members 9% (12%) £8,863 (£5,076)
Proximity to pubs, bars or restaurants  8% (6%) £7,129 (£2,364)
Space for pets 7% (5%) £7,532 (£3,564)
A safer neighbourhood 7% (8%) £6,921 (£7,819)
Proximity to sports facilities  5% (2%) £5,889 (£1,738)
Nicer neighbours  4% (6%) £5,940 (£4,967)
Eco features on the property 4% (3%) £6,345 (£3,321)
Proximity to friends 3% (6%) £7,402 (£3,741)
In an 'up and coming' area 2% (2%) £7,503 (£3,795)


Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its 1|2|3 products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. As at 31 December 2014, Santander UK was the most switched to bank, attracting 1 in 4 new retail customers. The bank serves more than 14 million active customers with c. 20,000 employees and operates through 921 branches and 66 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

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Banco Santander (SAN.MC, STD.N, BNC.LN)
is a retail and commercial bank, based in Spain, with a presence in 10 main markets. Santander is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. Founded in 1857, Santander had EUR 1.43 trillion in managed funds, 12,950 branches – more than any other international bank – and 185,400 employees at the close of 2014. It is the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America. It also has significant positions in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Poland and the northeast United States. In 2014 Santander made an attributable profit of EUR 5,816 million, 39% more than the previous year.

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