Increasing demand for property to buy and rent in Winchester and the surrounding area is leading to a supply and demand imbalance, according to Savills.

The Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged people to think more about where they live and the attributes they most value in a home, resulting in a surge of activity in the property market.

So far in 2021, Savills has agreed 59% more sales than in the first quarter of 2020. With 40% less stock currently available than at the same time last year, 55% of properties are attracting multiple offers from buyers.

Lifestyle relocation and the desire for more space has led to a particularly buoyant country house market in Hampshire, with around a third of buyers coming from London, double that seen the previous year. The city market was initially more subdued following the first lockdown however there has since been very strong demand for property with more space on the outskirts of Winchester.

Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research, said: “These passion and lifestyle drivers are now much stronger than the more rational home mover choices. Our latest buyer and seller survey suggests the constraints of lockdown will leave a lasting impression on the housing market and continue to shape what buyers want from their homes for the foreseeable future. In particular, a continued demand to upsize and relocate over the course of 2021. We also expect the renewed focus on village life to remain, particularly those within striking distance of a station and offering the essence of community life with a pub and a post office.”

Last year, there were 98% fewer downsizers in the market in the Winchester area however this area of the market is expected to become increasingly busy over the coming months.

Steven Moore, head of residential sales at Savills Winchester, said: “The downsizing market in the area has been curtailed for almost two years through Brexit, the general election and Covid, and its importance in reigniting the city centre market which tends to attract a high percentage of downsizer buyers, while releasing some of the very best housing stock should not be underestimated. The successful rollout of the vaccine will provide the confidence downsizers need to move forward and sell, which is encouraging for both buyers and sellers as a more balanced property market may emerge.”

The lettings market has echoed the sales market in the area, with more space, home offices and gardens at the top of tenants’ wish lists. During the first two months of this year, Savills lettings team in Winchester has seen a 96% increase in tenant registrations when compared to 2020. However with an increase of only 22% in new instructions in the same period, there is not enough supply to meet demand.

Michelle Keast, head of lettings at Savills Winchester, said: “There has been a particular increase in those looking to ‘try before they buy’ – renting a property in the area before committing to a purchase, as well as those who have sold and gone into rented accommodation while they wait to buy their forever home. We anticipate demand to continue throughout this year as people continue to reassess their work-life balance.”