Boom in online orders mean homes in remote areas, once hard to sell, have become more desirable

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Our love of online shopping has been devastating for the High Street, but its impact on the housing market is a different and much more positive story.

The boom in online orders for grocery and hot meal deliveries, plus greater reliance on the internet for buying everything from coffee pods to car parts, mean that homes in remote areas and on town fringes, once hard to sell, have now become more desirable.

‘The Forest of Dean, formerly an industrial mining landscape, is now populated by hipsters streaming across the River Severn from Bristol. It has good broadband coverage and offers supermarket deliveries, too. The same goes for Monmouthshire, a sleepy sheep-farming backwater that’s been taken over by the glitterati and intellectuals of the Hay Festival and BBC Cardiff,’ says James Greenwood of Stacks, a relocation agency.

At your service: The boom in online orders mean that homes in remote areas and on town fringes, once hard to sell, have become more desirable

At your service: The boom in online orders mean that homes in remote areas and on town fringes, once hard to sell, have become more desirable

At your service: The boom in online orders mean that homes in remote areas and on town fringes, once hard to sell, have become more desirable

These aren’t the only locations once considered out-of-bounds, but now booming thanks to the digital dividend, which means people no longer have to live in or near cities to stay connected.

More than 95 per cent of Cornwall is in the UK’s largest rural fibre optic broadband network, prompting the Truro branch of estate agency Jackson-Stops to say that it has seen a surge in ‘weekly commuters’. 

They spend three or four days a week in London and the rest at their home in the far South-West using some of the best telecoms to stay in touch with the office.

Indeed, the IT firm Hyperoptic this summer announced a £250million programme to bring Gigabit-speed broadband – the ‘gold standard’ for internet connections – to 20 towns and cities including Middlesbrough and Bournemouth.

Another IT giant, TalkTalk, is extending provision of its high-speed broadband deals to Luton, St Austell and Swansea.

Estate agents say fast broadband is now such a ‘must-have’ for some that it’s more important than living in the right school catchment area or close to a commuter transport hub.

IT website ISPreview surveyed 2,046 people in July to find 54.7 per cent would reject an otherwise-ideal house if it didn’t have a good broadband speed.

Dataloft, a consultancy, says average house prices in fast broadband hotspots are 17 per cent more than those outside.

Well connected: This stone-fronted detached property in Brierley has two double bedrooms and a one-bedroom annexe - ideal for the home-worker relying on good broadband

Well connected: This stone-fronted detached property in Brierley has two double bedrooms and a one-bedroom annexe - ideal for the home-worker relying on good broadband

Well connected: This stone-fronted detached property in Brierley has two double bedrooms and a one-bedroom annexe – ideal for the home-worker relying on good broadband

More evidence comes from the price comparison firm uSwitch – now part of Zoopla – which says that one of its most popular services is its free broadband postcode checker for house movers on uswitch.com.

The impact of digital services on where and what home we buy is not just restricted to broadband.

‘It used to be conventional wisdom that homes in the countryside were becoming harder to sell because they were a drive away from shops, cafes and restaurants.

‘Not any more, thanks to Ocado and Tesco and their rival delivery services,’ says Arthur Fareworth, a buying agent in Yorkshire.

Ocado, which allows customers to order via Amazon’s Alexa voice-command gadget as well as over the internet, says it can deliver more than 40,000 products to 70 per cent of the population. 

Digital dream: This five-bedroom village house with a charming garden is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Monmouth, which already has an improved digital service

Digital dream: This five-bedroom village house with a charming garden is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Monmouth, which already has an improved digital service

Digital dream: This five-bedroom village house with a charming garden is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Monmouth, which already has an improved digital service

Tesco, the first supermarket to offer same-day grocery deliveries, covers 99 per cent. 

As a result ‘less accessible homes, which once may have had asking prices discounted compared to houses nearer to a town, are fetching nearly similar prices,’ says Fareworth.

Meal-delivery services such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats mean that homes in the suburbs – some way from main shopping centres with big-name restaurants – are no longer off-limits to younger buyers and renters.

NPD, a consumer market research firm, says the UK last year enjoyed 179m Chinese meals delivered directly to people’s homes: in addition there were 171m pizzas, 82m burgers and 70m curries.

Broadband boost: In a town scheduled for a broadband boost, this house has four double bedrooms with scope for extending into the loft. There’s a beach and golf course nearby

Broadband boost: In a town scheduled for a broadband boost, this house has four double bedrooms with scope for extending into the loft. There’s a beach and golf course nearby

Broadband boost: In a town scheduled for a broadband boost, this house has four double bedrooms with scope for extending into the loft. There’s a beach and golf course nearby

‘Phone apps and websites also make it easier for consumers to order. It’s all there at the click of a button,’ says Cyril Lavenant of NPD, who says the home-delivery trend has grown 20 per cent since 2016 and is now the equivalent of everyone in Britain having ten takeaway deliveries each year.

In the past, estate agents talked of the Waitrose effect on homes near the stores, but in June the supermarket announced that some outlets were to close.

Last year Knight Frank spoke of The Ivy effect, but the posh brasserie chain then shelved plans for at least one of its proposed restaurants because of troubles hitting the casual dining sector.

Meanwhile, digital ordering is gaining ground. 

How long before details of homes on sale boast that a property is within Uber Eats and Ocado delivery zones?

 



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