Fast wifi can seal the deal: How top broadband speeds have become vital to entice home buyers
- 69% prioritise the availability of fast internet over living close to good schools
- Superfast broadband is also a cornerstone of urban regeneration projects
Forget kerb appeal and marble work surfaces in the kitchen. New research shows that the single most important factor for home buyers in 2019 is having fast broadband speeds.
A recent poll of 2,115 UK homeowners, carried out by Broadband Choices, a broadband, television and mobile comparison website, shows that 69 per cent of us prioritise the availability of speedy internet over, for example, living close to good nurseries and schools (57 per cent), friends and relatives (38 per cent) and shops and amenities (35 per cent).
‘I found the ideal house for a client,’ says Mark Lawson, property finder for The Buying Solution (thebuyingsolution.co.uk). ‘It was good-looking architecturally, with easy access to London — exactly what she wanted. But she wouldn’t cross the threshold until she knew its broadband speeds.’
A recent survey shows that 69 per cent of us prioritise the availability of speedy internet over, for example, living close to good nurseries and schools
Politicians are aware this is a hot subject and they strive to trump one another’s promises. David Cameron wanted the fastest broadband in Europe, Theresa May pledged £600million for fibre and Boris Johnson has promised full-fibre broadband coverage by 2025. Yesterday, Hull was announced as the first city in the UK where everyone can get full-fibre broadband.
Indeed, the website Broadband Choices also analysed data on download speeds from Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations report to reveal the best and worst places to live for access to fast broadband. It found Hull (87Mbps) and Swindon (84Mbps) topped the league while the more remote areas such as Truro in Cornwall (23Mbps) and Perth in Scotland (24Mbps) had the worst access to fast broadband.
To put these figures in context, Broadband Choices estimates the UK’s average download speed is 54.2Mbps. Yet only 33 per cent of locations across the country benefit from speeds faster than average. Little wonder that when superfast broadband comes to an area, it can have a dramatic effect.
The Cotswolds was an internet wasteland until a few years ago. In 2013, many more remote villages had to settle for less than 2 Mbps. Then, in 2015, Gigaclear was awarded a £10million contract to bring superfast broadband to 6,495 homes. Cut-off areas such as Guiting Power, Chedworth, Whelford and Bibury were suddenly fast-tracked into the 21st century.
‘We sold homes to buyers who wanted to work three days a week in London and two from home who had been unable to consider that kind of lifestyle previously as the slow internet made working from home impossible,’ says Rupert Wakley of Knight Frank (knight frank.com) in Stow-on-the-Wold.
‘The Cotswolds also became far more appealing for families with children, who needed to be computer savvy as part of their schooling.’
On the market… and up to speed
Offering fast broadband speeds is now a big selling point for house builders. Legal & General offers high-speed fibre broadband at all its developments the day the buyers move in.
Two Legal & General developments — Cross Trees Park, Oxfordshire, and Finchwood Park, Berkshire — have show homes launching this month.
Superfast broadband is also a cornerstone of urban regeneration projects. In Swindon, the council is planning a revamp of the town centre and a £2.5million restoration of the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal.
Topping it all is the New Eastern Villages Project, one of the largest greenfield developments in the country, consisting of 8,000 new homes, schools and offices.
Swindon’s broadband speeds — the second-fastest in the country — will make the Wiltshire town more attractive for businesses and families alike.
Superfast broadband is also a cornerstone of urban regeneration projects
Productivity will get a boost, public services, such as hospitals, will become more efficient and the locals will be able to book tickets for shows or download movies in seconds.
Today, house prices in Swindon are reasonable by south-west standards. The average detached home sold last year for £355,000, according to Rightmove (rightmove.co.uk), which compares well to £566,000 in Newbury, 28 miles closer to London. A four-bedroom semi-detached home in The Mall, Old Town, Swindon, is priced £375,000 with Atwell Martin (atwellmartin.co.uk).
Broadband provision can be sketchy, even within the same county. This frustrates David Smith of estate agents Myddelton & Major (myddelton major.co.uk) which covers the Test Valley.
‘If I have two identical houses, one to the north of Andover and one to the south, then I can guarantee the one to the north will sell first,’ says Smith. ‘The reason is that Virgin has recently supplied broadband to the north while the south is lumbered with slow speeds.’
What can vendors do if their house has slow broadband? ‘There are a few techniques that can make a difference,’ says internet trainer, Robert Shufflebotham. ‘Connect your computer to your router using an ethernet cable — wired connections are faster than wireless. Or try moving the router or buying a booster.’