“We enjoy watching the river traffic go by, as well as the many pubs, restaurants and coffee shops,” said Mr Pegley, 74. “We are looking forward to summer here.”
Canford Cliffs, the affluent suburb of Poole in Dorset, saw the third highest turnover. It attracts a range of buyers, said Susie Hall of JM Chase Property Search. “We’ve rediscovered the joy of the British seaside but expect much more sophistication than our parents did,” she said.
“There are excellent restaurants in the area, but demand is such that some now have to be booked weeks if not months ahead.”
Covid brought about a marked shift in the length of time people stay in their homes in certain areas, according to David Fell of Hamptons. “People have nearly always moved into and around cities more often than they leave suburbia or the country, where they tend to put down deeper roots,” he said.
“Before the pandemic the rate of turnover in cities was more than four times that of the country, but in the past two years this gap has closed. The more sought-after small towns and coastal hotspots have all seen big increases in activity, which has pushed up turnover rates.”
Many sellers in such places have seen an opportunity and seized it. Retired company director Robert Johnston and his wife, Annabel, had owned their three-bedroom sea-view property on the south coast of Cornwall, a two-minute walk to the beach, for 20 years but chose to sell it last year after they realised how popular the area had become.
“This is especially due to people being unable to get away because of Covid and houses on that part of the coast are rarely for sale, so we knew it would sell well,” said Mr Johnston, who is in his 70s and sold his home before it even reached the open market.
Some city locations have also seen high levels of sales, defying the perceived exodus from urban areas at the height of the pandemic. In ritzy Mayfair in central London, 10.4pc of all properties sold.
Ashley Wilsdon of the buying agency Middleton Advisors attributed this to a large number of newbuild apartments selling in “super-prime” schemes such as No 1 Grosvenor Square, where the average price of properties bought at the end of last year was £24m. The penthouse sold for a staggering £140m in 2020.
“After lockdown, as foreign travel resumed, we saw a swathe of international buyers acquiring these types of home,” Mr Wilsdon said.
In Canary Wharf, east London, sales have risen as the area has come back to life after the lockdowns. Ben Butler of Savills estate agency said: “The buzz of Canary Wharf really is back – people have returned to their offices, the tube is busier and there’s even a queue outside Pret a Manger in the mornings.
“There is demand across the market, from flats at about £350,000 to £1m-plus penthouses in the area’s sought-after developments.”
Last May one buyer, a 40-year-old who works as a manager, and his fiancée, 30, bought a two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat in the 10 Park Drive development in Canary Wharf, where prices range from £715,000 for a studio to £2.5m for three bedrooms.