Amid the unprecedented times of the pandemic, there has been a remarkable shift in the property market, with an increased demand for larger homes accompanied by spacious gardens. However, as the tides continue to turn, a new trend has emerged that is capturing the attention of many. Driven by an aging population, the post-Covid phenomenon of early retirement, and lingering economic uncertainty, a newfound love for downsizing has been kindled.

Surprisingly, it is the unassuming bungalow, often overshadowed by more glamorous housing options, that has now taken centre stage in the spotlight. While average mortgage rates have risen above 6%, middle-class families grappling with financial constraints are seeking viable alternatives to their larger, more burdensome homes. This growing segment of homebuyers is increasingly gravitating towards bungalows as their preferred choice for downsizing.

Moreover, retired couples have also joined this downsizing movement, motivated by the energy crisis experienced during the previous winter and the prospect of the forthcoming expensive winters. The convergence of these factors has fuelled an earnest search for the quintessentially British property—the bungalow.

Despite its rise to prominence, the true extent of the bungalow's impact remains largely unrecognised. Statistical data from the first half of 2021 reveals that the average sold price of a bungalow in the UK was £308,648, compared to the average sold price of a house at £353,661.

To give added context, since 1st January 2021:

  • 225,297 of the 296,228 bungalows that have come onto the market have sold or are currently sold stc (76.1%).
  • 1,813,330 of the 2,548,720 houses that have come onto the market have sold or are currently sold stc (71.1%).
  • 528,010 of the 898,183 flats/apartments that have come onto the market have sold or are currently sold stc (58.9%).

Looking ahead to the first six months of 2023, the price of bungalows has further increased to £346,039, while the average house sold price has only risen to £385,392. This implies a notable 12.1% increase in the average price of a bungalow in Britain from the first half of 2021 to the first half of 2023, in contrast to the 8.97% increase observed for houses during the same period.

The growing interest in downsizing has manifested in a significant surge in homeowners looking to sell and downsize, with their numbers rising by a third last year alone. However, it's not just retirees who are turning to bungalows; downsizing families with budget constraints are also finding an irresistible allure in these properties. With ample garden spaces that cater to the needs of a new generation of house hunters, bungalows are increasingly capturing the attention of these discerning buyers.

While the demand for bungalows continues to rise, the supply chain is struggling to keep pace. In the last six months, out of the staggering 870,031 properties that entered the market in the UK, only 70,077 (8.05%) were bungalows. In that same time frame, 531 houses SSTC (sold subject to contract), with a saleability rate of 61.6%, and 174 apartments SSTC at a rate of 76.3%.

It is evident that the allure of bungalows extends beyond retirees, as families seeking a downsized yet spacious residence find themselves captivated by these unique properties. However, the limited availability of bungalows poses a challenge to meet the increasing demand. Therefore, it becomes imperative to explore both the national and local context when contemplating the prospects of acquiring a bungalow.

In conclusion, with the changing dynamics of the Brighton property market and the growing preference for downsizing, it is essential to carefully consider the merits of bungalows. As their popularity continues to soar, prospective buyers must navigate the challenges of limited supply while weighing the unique benefits that these properties offer.