Land-hungry, commercially inefficient and reserved mainly for senior citizens: the humble bungalow has a somewhat poor reputation. The ugly sister of dwelling types, the number of new-build bungalows has bumped along the bottom of graphs since records began.
But, in this new COVID world, is the bungalow set to enjoy a surge in popularity? And, if so, are developers keeping up with the demand?
Probably not, is the short answer. According to NHBC statistics, bungalows have accounted for around 1-2% of new build completions for the past decade, reaching a high of 3% in 2009. On average, 2,300 new-build apartments have been built in the UK since 2010, with the number of completions falling steadily over the past four years.
However, with an ageing population and shifts in buyer desires, market demand for the bungalow is beginning to rise. In March 2021 retirement developer McCarthy Stone published a report which found that 70% of over-65s would consider moving to a bungalow, equating to 8.4m people across the UK.
Rightmove reached a similar conclusion following research carried out in June 2020, revealing that apartments were falling out of fashion amongst buyers and renters, being replaced by houses and bungalows.
So, what’s driving this? With working from home now fast becoming a part of daily life, homeowners and tenants are demanding more space from which to set up an office, whether it be a spare room or a purpose-made shed in the garden; space which is often lacking in apartments.
In addition, the attraction for over-75s lies in being able to live on one level, easier maintenance requirements and the ability to downsize whilst retaining independence.
The demand for bungalows is beginning to show in revenues, as well: in 2020 the average value of a bungalow in the UK was £288,000, a jump of 6% in the year. In comparison, the overall average UK property price rose by just 1%.
The unassuming bungalow will never reach the popularity of other property types; and it is unlikely that completions will return any time soon to the heady heights of 2000, when over 9,000 bungalows were built. The fact remains that they simply take up too much land, and unless Local Authority parameter plans force a developer’s hand by restricting ridge heights, they will continue to use that land to build three terraced units, or a couple of semi-detached, or a nice 4-bed house, and the additional revenue it brings.
There is no doubt, though, that bungalows are beginning to turn heads. Developers should take note, and maybe sprinkle a handful here and there over proposed site layouts. They may find themselves pleasantly surprised when they come to sell.