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Rate of first-time buyers falls in rural areas as families swap cities for countryside

The pandemic has drawn families away from UK cities, pushing rural house prices up and pricing first-time buyers out, according to a report released by the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Increased interest in large family homes in rural areas suggests that families were looking for more space during the pandemic. But data collected by the Institute shows that first-time buyers, often younger and locally-based, are being priced out of the market as a result.

The rise of holiday homes and ‘Airbnb-style’ short term lets has only raised property values and selling prices further. In the South West, where house prices rose the fastest in 2020, there were 13 per cent fewer first time buyers. In Scotland, houses often sold for 10-20 per cent above the asking price.

Tim Crawshaw, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute said: “Imbalance is a risk in almost all rural locations as escalating housing markets exclude younger generations. A lack of affordable homes is displacing younger households and separating families.”

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute said: “Rural communities have been under significant pressure since the start of the pandemic, including from inflated house prices, counter-urbanisation, and the ever-increasing demand for second and holiday homes. As planners, it’s our role to work with local authorities to monitor and adapt to these changes.”

The study shows that, though house prices in London may have stagnated during the pandemic, this stagnation did not necessarily assist first time buyers. In the capital, a deposit of at least £130k was still required to buy a home.



About the RTPI

The RTPI is the largest professional body for town planners in the UK and Europe and represents around 28,000 members in over 80 countries worldwide. The Institute has been shaping planning policy and raising professional standards for over 100 years and is the only body in the UK to confer Chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification.

Contact the RTPI press office on 020 7929 8330 or [email protected] For more information, visit


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