Not many of us want to live on the doorstep of a chicken factory or recycling centre. But what if your home is near a thriving business of a more seductive kind?
It might initially throw up some uncertainty, but experts are quick to point out that it can be a real positive.
‘As the work-life-commute balance is altered, there is genuine appeal in being part of a community and knowing your local retailers,’ says Adam Stackhouse, head of developments and commercial investments at Winkworth estate agents in London.
Thriving: Tea rooms in the market town of Hawes, North Yorkshire. Having an attractive local business close on your doorstep can add value to your home
And having a business as a neighbour can add saleability. ‘Being close to good amenities or businesses will increase demand for a house and help add to the speed at which the sale is progressed,’ says Simon Backhouse, director at Strutt & Parker’s Canterbury office.
Butchers and bakers help draw in buyers
Top of the shops to have as a neighbour is the traditional village-style store, even if you don’t live in a quaint English village.
‘Businesses that appeal to potential buyers are hubs of the community such as gift shops, butchers and bakers and particularly florists,’ says Mr Stackhouse.
‘The practicality of spending more time indoors has created a real interest in retail on our doorsteps as communities spend more time appreciating their immediate locale.’
Mr Backhouse sees the same trend out of town, too. ‘Over the past few months, with people spending more time at home during the pandemic, the spotlight has been cast onto the resilience of local businesses and the sense of community that a locally run enterprise brings to a village,’ he says.
It’s a return to a more simple way of life, ‘with attitudes shifting towards a French model of consumption – buying fresh bread, groceries and meat on a daily basis – as opposed to a reliance on big supermarket chains, being next door to these businesses is increasingly attractive.’
And although small, a decent convenience shop can add to the appeal of your property.
‘In Barham, Kent, the village store and post office is a community-run enterprise with all but one member of staff being volunteers,’ says Mr Backhouse.
‘It’s a fantastic little shop, almost like a small Fortnum & Mason. It’s created by the community, for the community, and it’s businesses like these that set one village apart from the rest.’
Cafes and restaurants are a recipe for community spirit
It’s not just village-style shops that are attractive neighbours.
Hospitality also holds huge appeal, offering a chance to integrate into a new community.
‘Living next door to a cafe can mean that you are in the thick of the local social scene,’ says Mr Backhouse.
‘You’re likely to get to know your neighbours, be involved in events and, if you’re a foodie, there may be edible benefits to being right next door.’
Independent businesses appeal, too; well-established restaurants can significantly boost property prices in an area.
Research by estate agency Knight Frank found a 31 to 60 per cent uplift in house prices over five years in the areas where Ivy brasseries had opened.
Meanwhile, having a Michelin-starred restaurant on the doorstep can add 50 per cent to the value of a home, according to a survey by primelocation.com.
Attraction: Well-established restaurants or cafes can significantly boost property prices in an area
… but certain business can reduce a home’s value
Of course, all neighbours are not equal, and some businesses can reduce the value of a property.
Living next to a McDonald’s, for example, can subtract 24 per cent off the value of your home, according to a study by commercial property agents Savoy Stewart, while a Primark can knock off 23 per cent.
Shops and restaurants bring with them the customers, meaning congestion and parking can cause a headache.
And while your dream home might be a stone’s throw from a cute bakery now, it’s wise to be aware this might not always be the case.
Bradley Bernett, a residential conveyancing solicitor for Curwens LLP, warns: ‘You have to consider a number of possible factors when buying next to a commercial unit.
‘Think about how easy it will be to sell when the time comes, the amount of footfall near you and most of all the potential use of the building.
‘While something is a shop now, that might not always be the case, so it’s worth looking into what it could potentially become.’
The future is here
Although Covid restrictions have had a huge part to play, the pandemic has sped up what the market was already experiencing.
The appeal of living near businesses is set to stay long after lockdowns have eased.
John Kelly, managing partner at Glasgow-based agents Corum, says: ‘People want to school their children and live their life in their own community.
‘Good schools, parks and recreational facilities will never go out of fashion, but the growing demand for great places to eat, drink and socialise is rising.’