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House history survey

The nation's passion for house history revealed

The Findmypast team
6 September 2021

Findmypast research shows that historic properties sell faster and buyers are prepared to pay more for them.

We've conducted new research on the theme of house history and found that historical properties are becoming increasingly sought after across the UK. Our findings reveal that over a quarter of surveyed homebuyers in the UK are prepared to pay £16,000 more on average for a house with a history, despite the recent sharp rise in property prices.

UK homebuyers will pay more for a house with an interesting past

The research also reveals that in addition to prices potentially being pushed up from buyers prepared to pay more, houses with an interesting past will also sell faster.

Trace house history with address search

  • 75% of people looking to buy in the next 4-6 months are somewhat more likely to pay more for a house with an interesting backstory
  • 58% of UK homeowners looking to buy are more likely to buy a property with a fascinating story 
  • 56% of those looking to buy in the next 4-6 months answered yes to paying more for a house with an interesting backstory
  • 20% will look at house history before buying a home 
  • London (31%), Edinburgh (29%) and Glasgow (27%) are the top three cities where buyers are prepared to pay more for a home with an interesting past

Millennials are the most swayed with 10% willing to pay up to £50,000 over asking for a house with an interesting past and half changing the view of their home after learning about previous occupants.

  • 39% of 25-34 y/o surveyed are willing to pay for a house with an interesting past vs. 19% 45-54 y/o and 10% of those aged 55+ 
  • 50% of 25-34 y/o believe the view of their home would change if they knew more about previous occupants

The survey of over 2,000 homebuyers looking to buy in the next year, sheds new light on the behaviour of prospective purchasers. Amidst the recent stamp duty holiday, house prices have soared. According to the UK House Price index, property prices have risen by 4.5% since May 2021 and 13.2% in the last year, taking the UK national average to £265,668.

This house history investigation follows the launch of our exclusive address search, which allows you to look up your address and uncover the history of your home between 1939 and 1841. You can discover the age of your house and previous occupants using census records and the 1939 Register.

Interest in house history research has steadily increased since lockdown restrictions were first announced. Developed in response to customer demand, over 70,000 address searches were conducted using our new tool in the 48 hours following launch.

Using address search, we've found the former homes of several notable great Britons. These include NHS founder Aneurin Bevan, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe author, C.S Lewis, Dr Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin and Lily Maxwell, the first woman in Britain to vote.

Dundela Flats, Belfast, C.S. Lewis' birthplace

C.S. Lewis was born at 47 Dundela Avenue, Belfast. Today, a number of flats occupy the site. Photo ©Albert Bridge(cc-by-sa/2.0).

According to our research, homeowner and buyer behaviours are changing with both parties now increasingly looking at histories of properties before buying or selling.

Homeowners are researching their house history to increase the value of their homes

For those looking to sell, 22% are actively researching the history of their property in a bid to increase its value to prospective purchasers.

Elsewhere, a fifth of those buying will now research a house’s history before purchasing, to unearth any fascinating stories. This is particularly prominent among those looking to buy in the next six months, with 31% of these buyers planning to research a home’s history pre-purchase. On the flip side, only 16% of people would be inclined to move house if they discovered something unsavoury about their house’s history.

  • 16% will review house history before selling a house
  • 25% of those surveyed would be likely to research more about their home's history and 24% would try to preserve some of the historic features
  • Using house history to increase the value of a property is most prominent in Cardiff (28%), London (27%) and Glasgow (25%)
  • House buyers in Brighton (32%), Newcastle (26%) and Birmingham (24%) are most likely to look at a house's history before purchasing

Cities in love with house history

When it comes to the areas in the UK where historic house hunters will be prepared to break the bank, homebuyers from London (31%), Edinburgh (29%) and Glasgow (27%) are the top three cities where buyers are prepared to pay more for a house with a fascinating history - with 12% of respondents from London saying they would pay up to £20,000 more for such a property.

At the other end of the scale, prospective purchasers from Nottingham and Sheffield are far less prepared to pay above the odds for a house with its own interesting story.

  • London (48%), Cardiff (47%) and Leeds (46%) are the three cities where respondents are most likely to purchase homes if they knew it had a fascinating story
  • Those living in Leeds (33%), Sheffield (32%) and Edinburgh (30%) would pay £5,000-£10,000 over the asking price for a house with an interesting past
  • Respondents in Glasgow (15%), London (12.2%) and Cardiff (12%) claimed they would pay £10,001-£20,000 more

Commenting on the findings, Tom Greenacre, Managing Director at Purplebricks said;

“We have sold many homes with a unique history – including former churches, banks and pubs – showing that there is an appetite amongst buyers for properties with an interesting story to tell. We even have a former lighthouse for sale which was used as an observation tower in World War Two, and a country house that belonged to Henry VIII. Properties like this are rare to the market, so many buyers are willing to pay more to secure them. As such, more sellers are sharing historical facts of the property to increase the interest and value of their home.”

Sam Otter, chief revenue officer for Findmypast added;

“We’ve all spent much more time at home over the past 18 months, we’ve started to think about what else has gone on inside the four walls of our home. We’ve seen so many more people coming to Findmypast to discover their house history than ever before.  So it's great to see that reflected in the property market with many people willing to pay more for houses with fascinating stories. It’s also interesting how homeowners who are looking to sell are now researching the history of their own homes to potentially increase their value.”

Every house has a story waiting to be discovered.  Now you have even more reason to delve into the history of your house, street or town.  Whether to discover if your family home belonged to a marquess or a miner, to increase its value or to discover and restore period features. It just takes a few clicks with address search, only available at Findmypast.