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2020 review: Searches surge in Bruton, Eccles is price hotspot and over 200 busiest ever days

  • Rightmove’s review of the year reveals coastal and rural areas saw the biggest jump in buyer searches in 2020:
    • Bruton in Somerset (+72%) leads the way, followed by Pitlochry in Scotland (+50%)
    • Barnard Castle saw daily searches temporarily leap 144% earlier this year after Boris Johnson’s former chief advisor visited the area during the initial lockdown
  • The biggest winners for property prices were suburban areas in the North West, with towns near Liverpool and Manchester seeing the biggest growth in average asking prices this year
  • Rightmove traffic surpassed eight million daily visits for the first time on 8th July when the temporary stamp duty holiday was announced, and over 200 busiest ever days were in 2020

The quaint Somerset town of Bruton saw the biggest increase in buyers searching for places to move to. The picturesque countryside community, which has seen annual buyer searches rise by 72% this year, is just outside where Sarah Beeny is building a home in Channel 4’s Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country.

The second most popular place to live this year is Pitlochry in Scotland, where buyer searches have increased by 50% compared to 2019. The top five places with the biggest annual increases in buyer searches are completed by Aylesford in Kent, Salcombe in Devon and Lightwater in Surrey. The rest of the top 10 is also dominated by rural and coastal areas, which mirrors a wider national trend of home-movers looking to relocate to more remote destinations in 2020.

Back in May there was a more fleeting trend when Barnard Castle saw daily searches leap 144%, after it was reported that Boris Johnson’s former chief advisor visited the area during the initial lockdown period.

In terms of the nation’s rental hotspots, the top three places in Britain that’ve seen the biggest annual increases in rental searches are Cambridge (+34%), Stockport (+31%), and Rye (+27%).

Our review of the year found that seven of the top 10 areas that have seen the biggest rises in the number of sales being agreed over the past 12 months have populations under 10,000 – further highlighting the popularity of rural locations. The top five local markets with the biggest year-on-year increases in sales agreed are: Welwyn, Hertfordshire (+75%), Woodbridge, Suffolk (+69%), Llanelli, Wales (+65%), Stockbridge, Hampshire (+60%), and Malmesbury, Wiltshire (+54%).

For prices, it’s suburban areas in the North West near Liverpool and Manchester that saw the biggest growth this year. Eccles, home of the iconic cakes and located west of Manchester, has seen a bigger annual increase in average asking prices than anywhere else in Britain, up 16%. The national average increase is 6.6%. Average asking prices in the town have risen from £184,299 in 2019 to £213,706 this year.

Six other locations across Greater Manchester and Merseyside complete the top 10 property price hotspots in 2020, with Wavertree (+12.2%) and Chadderton (+10.9%) taking second and third places respectively.

For traffic, the busiest days of the year are usually recorded in the first few months, but the temporary closure and subsequent mini-boom from May onwards, plus the introduction of the temporary stamp duty holiday in July, saw Rightmove record over 200 of its busiest ever days in 2020. Daily visits surpassed 8 million for the first time on Wednesday 8th July when the stamp duty holiday was announced and within half an hour of the announcement traffic jumped by 22%.

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister said: “This year we’ve seen an uplift in the number of home-movers escaping to the country and we think this trend will continue for now as people show their willingness to make significant life changes. The data highlights just how influential the unexpected events of this year have been in shaping the nation’s housing priorities, with many buyers determined to swap city streets for rural and coastal retreats.”

Agents’ views

Glynis Frew, CEO of Hunters Estate Agents, said: “2020 has given many people time to reset and reprioritise, with a focus on lifestyle. From a better work-life balance to the need for outside space, we have a renewed sense of what matters to us.

“For some, this means finally making that dream rural or coastal move, safe in the knowledge that they can work remotely for the majority of the time while coming into the office a few times a month. For those in certain digital-led industries, the possibilities are almost limitless – a good Wi-Fi connection is all they need.”


Richard Speedy, Regional Director (South West) and Head of Strutt & Parker’s Exeter office, added: “This year in the West Country we’ve seen around three times the regular number of applicants, and in the last weeks of 2020 are witnessing at least double the number of interested buyers compared to the same period in 2019. This year, people have become increasingly curious as to what they can get in the countryside, with many finally deciding to take the plunge.

“Coastal locations have seen a boom in popularity as people look for a change in lifestyle. Hotspots along the coast allow residents to enjoy activities on the water, access the beach, and brilliant coastal walking while also maintaining the ever-important tight-knit community aspect. With the majority unable to travel abroad this year, the staycation trend has highlighted the benefits of the British countryside and coastline, leading to a surge in interest from first and second-home buyers, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, wanting their own slice.

“What’s quite interesting, in the last couple of months, is the increasing number of professionals in the financial sector being given a greater amount of flexibility when it comes to working location. Many have been given the option of working remotely, with required time in the office limited to just a couple of days a month. As a result, a rising number of relatively high net worth individuals and their families are heading to the South West in search of the rural, or coastal, idyll. Priorities have changed; being within a one hour’s radius of London is no longer a must-have requirement and, as a result, people are looking to buy larger homes than they would have previously considered, with most requiring one, if not two, home office spaces to be able to work remotely.”     


Top 10 biggest annual increases in buyer searches:

Place Area Annual % change in buyer searches
Bruton Somerset 72%
Pitlochry Perthshire 50%
Aylesford Kent 48%
Salcombe Devon 47%
Lightwater Surrey 46%
Dartmouth Devon 46%
Henfield West Sussex 39%
Sturminster Newton Dorset 39%
Hayling Island Hampshire 39%
Henley-on-Thames Oxfordshire 39%



Top 10 biggest annual increases in sales agreed:

Place Region Annual % change in sales agreed
Welwyn Hertfordshire 75%
Woodbridge Suffolk 69%
Llanelli Wales 65%
Stockbridge Hampshire 60%
Malmesbury Wiltshire 54%
Frinton-on-Sea Essex 54%
Hayling Island Hampshire 52%
Buntingford Hertfordshire 52%
Ware Hertfordshire 51%
Hassocks West Sussex 49%



Top 10 biggest annual increases in average asking prices

Place Region Average asking prices 2020 Average asking prices 2019 % change
Eccles Greater Manchester £213,706 £184,299 16.0%
Wavertree Merseyside £169,915 £151,448 12.2%
Chadderton Greater Manchester £170,700 £153,896 10.9%
Middleton Greater Manchester £175,369 £158,308 10.8%
Sowerby Bridge West Yorkshire £210,897 £190,415 10.8%
Halifax West Yorkshire £152,307 £137,727 10.6%
Worsley Greater Manchester £237,665 £215,418 10.3%
Morecambe Lancashire £152,805 £138,771 10.1%
Wallasey Merseyside £168,575 £153,586 9.8%
Royton Greater Manchester £186,819 £170,392 9.6%


The study analysed annual increases in buyer searches, annual increases in sales agreed, and annual increases in average asking prices between 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2019 versus 1st January 2020 to 14th December 2020.