Comment: Londoners’ love affair with St Albans and Harpenden continues

The move out from London to Hertfordshire is nothing new. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The move out from London to Hertfordshire is nothing new. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

To say that the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have been far reaching is an understatement – the death toll is still rising, and very few of us have escaped the financial fallout.

The property industry was among those that were effectively forced to close back in March. And while the majority of estate agents were furloughed, some, such as Putterills managing director Mark Shearing, carried on working to keep existing sales from stalling.

I spoke to Mark about this weird time when physical valuations weren’t allowed, and the new era of sanitiser-wielding property viewings that’s now the norm.

On the bright side, Mark and many other local agents are now busier than ever, with the pent-up demand resulting in a rush of interest from movers.

A significant amount of this enthusiasm has come from London, with city dwellers increasingly keen to snap up a bit more space outside the capital.

For many, it’s the next logical step as their families expand and their need for a garden and an extra bedroom grows – moreso now than ever, with increasing working from home meaning proximity to the office is no longer such a priority for many.

Ryan Green, of Savills in Harpenden, said this week that demand had resulted in an increase in rental values, and that properties were being snapped up so quickly that there was now a shortage of stock.

We know this is nothing new. I lived in London before moving out to St Albans nearly 20 years ago, as did what feels like every other person I know locally.

This well-trodden path out to outstanding suburban schools and speedy train rides back to the capital isn’t just a consequence of COVID, though that’s definitely playing a part in the current spike in interest.

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Londoners have always loved it here, and, frankly, who can blame them?