MORE than twice as many Dorset homes costing more than £1 million were sold in 2020 compared to the previous year - prompted by people desiring more space due to Covid lockdowns.

Research conducted by Savills has found that Dorset saw a 49 per cent increase in sales agreed across the whole market since June 1, 2020, as well as a 136 per cent increase in sales agreed on houses costing more than £1m.

The increase is down to lifestyle relocation and the desire for more space amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost a third of buyers were upsizing from within the area, while half were relocating to the county, with 19 per cent of buyers coming from London and a further 16 per cent from Hampshire and Surrey.

Ashley Rawlings, head of residential sales at Savills Wimborne, said: "Against all expectations, 2020 was an exceptionally busy year.

"The pandemic encouraged people to think more about where they live and the attributes they most value in a home and there has been a clear demand from buyers, particularly in the family market.

"Lifestyle relocation remains a big theme as people continue to reassess their work-life balance. Those with future plans to move out of the county, or to move back to where they themselves grew up, have made the decision to do so earlier, making the most of being able to work from home and commute less frequently.

"Now more than ever, buyers want somewhere with greater space, a large garden, easy access to the countryside and excellent schools.

"The Dorset area of course has this in abundance, with property representing good value for money when compared to London. As a result, we have seen strong activity across the board.

"The strong demand from buyers is still very much in evidence this year, though there is a clear shortage of stock following the large volume of sales agreed in 2020."

The surge has led to a small price growth. The south of England region, which includes Dorset, saw an increase of 4.6 per cent last year.

Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research, said: "Our expectation is that this further lockdown will make people more aware of the limitations of their existing home and increase their commitment to moving, likely leading to pent up demand as seen after the first national lockdown early in 2020.

"At the same time, however, the pool of those able to act on their desire to move will shrink so buyers and sellers will need to continue to remain pragmatic around pricing."

For more information on Dorset homes on the market, including homes costing more than £1m in Dorchester and Bridport, and homes costing more than £2m in Weymouth and Shaftesbury, visit the Savills website.