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Squeezed Britain: Brits confused by property size

Prospective buyers and homeowners are confused by square footage and square metres as research finds over half of Brits don’t know the size of their own home

  • New research¹ from Barclays Mortgages reveals over half of Brits (57 per cent) don’t know the actual size of their home and one quarter (25 per cent) don’t understand what a square foot or square metre is
  • Nearly two thirds of people don’t look at floor plans when hunting for a new property and just look at photos
  • One-third of respondents said size is more important than location 
  • Over the festive period, two in five (40 per cent) homeowners were worried about hosting guests, due to lack of space and not being able to fit all of their relatives and friends in
  • One in three homeowners plan to move property in 2020 and an additional 37 per cent plan to improve their home to create more space

With a third of homeowners (33 per cent) looking to move home in 2020, new research from Barclays Mortgages has uncovered that property size and standard measurements are puzzling house hunters. Indeed, one in four don’t understand the concept of a square foot or square metre, leading to one in five admitting they have struggled to fit their belongings into their property and over one quarter have had to return furniture that didn’t fit in their new home (28 per cent). 

Over half of homeowners and first-time buyers don’t know the size of their home in square foot or square metres. Furthermore, people often overestimate the average size of a UK property (a three-bedroom home). For example, when asked, most Brits believed it to be 40 per cent larger than reality (1100 sq ft vs 800 sq ft)².

When searching for a new property online, two thirds of house hunters (69 per cent) don’t look at the floor plans and simply judge a property by its photos. This results in an average of four days wasted looking at properties that are too small.

The result is often buyer’s remorse. The survey found that over a third (38 per cent) of homeowners wish they had moved into a bigger property than they currently live in and a quarter (25 per cent) wish at least one of their rooms was larger.

Looking for more room, 37 per cent of homeowners plan to improve their home to create additional space.

Barclays Mortgages also found that a third (33 per cent) stated that the size of the home is more important than the location and nearly half (42 per cent) would choose to own a larger property over staying in their current area. 

This desire for more space comes as two fifths of homeowners experience anxiety when it comes to hosting people in their homes. Two in five surveyed felt worried over the Christmas period about having friends and family to stay due to a lack of space and 15 per cent were concerned their property wasn’t big enough for entertaining in general.

Whilst over one in three plan to prioritise a larger kitchen next time they move, one in ten revealed that, if money was not an issue, they would have a whole room dedicated to their pet. Second and third on the wish list were ensuite bathrooms (38 per cent) and larger bedrooms (37 per cent).

Hannah Bernard, Head of Mortgages at Barclays, commented: “As more of us look for properties online, it’s interesting to see how, as a nation, we’re struggling to judge how much space there is. It’s important to think about whether you need more space in a new property or if you can simply extend your home to suit your needs.

“We understand the factors that need to be considered in these circumstances and want to help families stay in control of their finances as they plan for a change in their home – whether it’s a first move, a re-mortgage or home improvements.”

For further information on Barclays Mortgages or improving your home, visit

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¹ Research conducted by Censuswide across 2000 homeowners and first time buyers Thursday 12th December to Monday 16th December 2019.

*Data taken from 2018 Which? Article: Shrinking homes: the average British house 20% smaller than in 1970s

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