Virgin Media O2 has revealed that the majority (70%) of house-hunters would be prepared to walk away from their preferred home, or not make an offer at all, if its mobile connectivity isn’t up to scratch. Good broadband connectivity is also crucial, with 35% of Brits prioritising good broadband over good transport links. Some 60% of house-hunters said that the strength of the mobile and broadband network would be a top consideration when looking at properties to buy or rent.
The data has revealed that a well-connected home is not just a happy one, but a more profitable one, too. Nearly a third (31%) of people looking to buy would be willing to pay more for a property with strong indoor and outdoor mobile phone connectivity. Half of Brits (50%) would prioritise putting an offer down on a property that has good mobile signal and a fifth of house-hunters would be willing to pay more, some up to £10,000 over for a property with strong indoor and outdoor phone signal. When it comes to renters, 1 in 4 (25%) would also increase their monthly payment for a property with good connectivity, demonstrating the importance of staying connected at home.
Pandemic drives shift in priorities
Aside from the actual property cost, before the pandemic, house-hunting criteria focused on an easy commute and the option of a spare bedroom (both previously ranking amongst the top five considerations), now those looking to buy or rent have reconsidered what matters the most. The need for outdoor space (53%) and proximity to friends and family (42%) remain the top two considerations, but new factors such as good walking routes (40%) and the quality and strength of broadband are playing a more significant part in property decisions.
Brits are prepared to increase their commute for a dream home
House-hunting criteria has changed in other ways, too. Proximity to the workplace has become less important to people, with 1 in 4 (26%) rating this as an important factor in deciding where to live, versus 1 in 3 (33%) pre-pandemic. Virgin Media O2 revealed that whilst 52% of Brits previously had 30-minute commute, now only 37% would like to live this close. Over a third (35%) would now be willing to live up to an hour away from their office, and almost a fifth of people (19%) are prepared to tackle a two-hour commute.
Broadening their horizons and looking further afield for their next home, nearly a fifth (19%) of respondents said they want to move to seaside towns now that remote working is the norm. 1 in 10 (10%) would choose to move to the countryside, and a similar number would like to move to a village.
The spread of house-hunters across major towns and cities, as well as seaside and rural areas, underscores the importance of strong, nationwide connectivity. Virgin Media O2 recently announced it has provided a 4G upgrade to over 31,300 postcodes since the start of the year in a drive to boost connectivity around the country. Ahead of the Staycation summer, almost 600 cell sites have also been upgraded across coastal & tourist hotspots, with many locations having 5G network connectivity installed, such as Edinburgh Castle, the V&A Museum and Bournemouth Pier. This comes as the operator has started to roll out its new 5G low band spectrum, further widening its 5G footprint and strengthening indoor penetration.
Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recommendation for a “gradual return to work”, uncertainties and questions remain. Flexible and remote working practices have become the norm over the last year and O2 Business revealed in March that 76% of people are hoping to maintain a level of location flexibility and 85% would like some form of flexibility over the hours they work post-pandemic.
Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “The past year has taught us the importance of staying connected, so we are investing more in our network in 2021 than ever before. We’ve responded to the rise in nomadic working and the need for strong connectivity within the home to enable this trend to continue. We know our customers are factoring connectivity into major decisions regarding their home and work life, so as the mobile network voted best for mobile reliability and coverage, we want to help make things easier for everyone as we upgrade the UK.
We’re proud to have delivered a 4G boost in over thirty thousand postcodes this year alone, and are committed to bringing together next-generation gigabit broadband and 5G services, as we expand our network reach across the country.”
 O2 won Best Network Coverage in the uSwitch Broadband & Mobile Awards 4 years in a row from 2018 to 2021. Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) also awarded O2 the Best Network for Reliability for three years running: 2019, 2020 and now in 2021.