Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the priorities for UK home buyers and what they are looking for in a new home – particularly in relation to location and type of property – has changed significantly.
There has been a record number of new buyers following the announcement of the temporary stamp duty break in July 2020. The extension to the £500,000 nil rate until 30 June 2021 and a nil rate of £250,000 between 1 July – 30 September 2021, plus other government incentives introduced to support the housing market, means this increase in property transactions shows no signs of abating.
However, having to spend several lockdown periods in homes that no longer work for them, buyers are increasingly focused on specific requirements for their new homes. So, what are the most popular priorities for homebuyers in 2021?
Top of the list (for over two-thirds of prospective buyers) is a bigger garden, with 50% seeking to upsize to a bigger home, in general, to allow more space for both family time and the ability to work from home (Indeed, 36% per cent of buyers are now seeking better workspace in a new home).
And unsurprisingly, given our new need (and want) for social distancing, many buyers were seeking more outdoor space, with 31% wanting to live closer to parks and green spaces and 30% looking for a complete change with a move to a more rural area.
So, buyers are after it all it seems, a rural location with plenty of green, outdoor space on the doorstep but close enough to amenities and transport links when they are needed! To meet all these requirements without going over budget, more prospective homebuyers than ever (around 35%) are willing to move to somewhere completely new.
This small village in North Yorkshire has seen its average property price over the last 12 months rise an impressive 62% to a still very affordable £393,750 in comparison to the previous (pre-Covid!) year.
Manfield started life as a medieval settlement. The village’s Grade II listed All Saints Church was built in the 12th century and is still in use today. Covering less than 4 acres and with a modest population of around 450, Manfield is a small community that offers a quiet and tranquil location to live.
Being well connected via its road and bus network, Manfield is an ideal rural base for those who work in Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Durham, 3.5, 17 and 22 miles away, respectively. Popular with homebuyers of all ages, the village offers the perks of being well connected to more urban areas whilst also enjoying a prime location in between the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park.
Manfield may now be more expensive than North Yorkshire overall (£260,252), but it still offers a considerable saving compared to pricey neighbours Bolam (£493,000) Houghton Bank (£474,000) and surrounding villages.
When it comes to property types, there is also something for everyone in Manfield, from smaller, characterful stone cottages to more modern detached properties with substantial gardens and you can still pick up a 2-3 bedroom terraced or semi-detached home for less than £200,000.
Whilst Manfield offers a peaceful living environment in a small community, it does not lack the connections needed to make national and international travel simple and accessible.
The nearby A1 runs all the way from Edinburgh in the North to London in the South and the A66 runs east to west across the North of England from Grangetown (to the east of Middlesbrough) in North Yorkshire to the Cumbria town of Workington. Newcastle Airport is also around 50 minutes away for journeys further afield.
Darlington train station is less than 15 minutes drive from Manfield via the A167 and offers extensive services to local towns plus Durham, York, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, London and beyond on the East Coast Main Line. Services to nearby Durham take 15 minutes and Middlesbrough can be reached in 27 minutes.
Manfield is also served by a bus network that provides regular services between Darlington and Richmond plus numerous local villages in between.
Schools and education
For families, schools are one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a place to live, and handily there is no shortage of options when it comes to primary schools in the Manfield catchment.
Trinity Academy Eppleby Forcett and Middleton Tyas are both parts of the Dales Academy Trust and offer primary education designed to operate as one school that offers a wraparound education for young children. The West Park Academy for children aged 3 to 11 on the edge of nearby Darlington is also highly rated.
When it comes to secondary education, Darlington is also home to Carmel College; a school that received Ofsted’s highest rating of ‘outstanding’ in its most recent inspection. The school offers secondary education to boys and girls aged 11-18. Nearby Beaumont Hill Academy offers specialist SEN education to pupils aged 2 to 19.
The highly acclaimed Durham University is also close by, and the university’s excellent reputation means that it attracts academics and speakers from across the globe.
Leisure and amenities
Manfield is within easy reach of an impressive amount of green, outdoor space. There are plenty of options to be enjoyed for walkers, cyclists, climbers and more with the Yorkshire Dales, The North Pennines, The North York Moors, North Riding Forest Park and the Howardian Hills ANOB all on the doorstep. The beautiful northeast coast and stunning sandy beaches like Redcar are also only 40 minutes away, as is the RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve in nearby Middlesbrough.
Whilst Manfield is mainly residential, Darlington is just 3.5 miles away and offers plenty to explore and take in when it comes to leisure time.
There is an impressive host of cuisines on offer that range from street food at SALT to something more refined at the two-star Michelin Raby Hunt. For a night out on the tiles, Crooners Champagne Bar offers a relaxed and refined experience and for fans of real ales, craft beers and single malt whiskies The ORB Micropub is a must-visit.
For the culture vultures, The Hippodrome Theatre welcomes a host of plays and acts all year round, and there is also plenty of opportunities to get involved with local performance groups and children’s clubs.
For families, there is the Darlington Railway Museum to explore on a rainy day whilst green flag awarded South Park is a popular place to spend time when the sun is out thanks to its play park, multi-use games area, skate park, bowling green, outdoor gym and cafe. South Park also hosts some great live music events like ‘We Love 90s in the Park’ that is sure to get everyone singing in the summer sun.
If a retail fix is the order of the day, there are plenty of independent and chain shops to browse on the High Row or Skinnergate and the Corn Mill Shopping Centre is home to all the high street favourites. There are various supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda for all the essentials too and an impressive local market dating back to the mid-19th century.
If you want to stay closer to home, Manfield’s own The Crown Inn is located in the heart of the village and offers a great food and drinks menu with a friendly atmosphere. The pub is a great place to get to know members of the community and often serves as a base for many of the village’s activities with plenty of live music and a regular beer festival on offer.
Crime and safety
Being a rural community makes Manfield a very safe place to live. Of course, it is not totally free of crime, but the rates in the area are extremely low and the area is well policed by the local Richmondshire Police team.
There are also community initiatives designed to keep inhabitants of Manfield safe and free from the effects of crime.