2020 was a tumultuous year due to the pandemic. Any glimmers of normality were hindered by lockdowns and restrictions put in place by the government to lower the COVID-19 infection rate. People lost their jobs, others were furloughed, and the economy spiralled downwards.

Over the months people’s opinions changed and thoughts on what was deemed important developed. Those working from home noted a better work/life balance, some hobbies became careers and there was a greater sense of community and solidarity.

With the social and economic climate having changed so brutally over the past months, SOLD.CO.UK set out to discover how people’s attitudes and feelings to spending, saving, and investing had changed. Given the second lockdown, Christmas, and Brexit there was a lot happening to influence people’s thoughts.

SOLD.CO.UK set out with one simple question – if you won £100K what would you do with the money? With property having been the nation’s sweetheart in terms of expenditure and investment for as long as can be remembered we wanted to see if the social, political, and economic play of the nation had impacted this trend.

Over a period of four months spanning November 2020 to February 2021, SOLD.CO.UK interviewed approximately 500 people a month. Doing this allowed us to compare and contrast results month against month, as we present an overall picture on how people are feeling regarding finances.

In response to the survey question, respondents could choose from the following answers:

  • Invest in property to sell or let
  • Buy a new house to live in 
  • Clear mortgage and/or other debts
  • Invest in stocks and shares 
  • Save it for a rainy day
  • Put capital towards your pension 
  • Indulge in luxuries such as holidays and cars

Below we reveal and unravel all the data collected over the past four months from our 2000 respondents.

Is buying property still important for UK citizens?

Below is an overview of all the data we have collected so far in response to our survey question, if you won £100K what would you do with the money? 

The graph is interactive, so go ahead and click the coloured boxes to add or remove them from the table of results. Or, keep them all present to get a clear picture of the survey trends as a whole. 

November 2020 – England Under Second Lockdown

Back in November Boris Johnson put England into a second lockdown to curb the escalation of the COVID-19 infection rate. From the 5th November to 2nd December 2020 England would face similar restrictions to the first lockdown, such as working from home if you can, no mixing of households, pubs and restaurants shut and no unnecessary travel. However, there was no limit on how long you could spend outside, and children were still able to attend school. The four-week temporary lockdown was also dubbed way to ensure a ‘normal’ Christmas.

In November SOLD.CO.UK posed the question if you won £100K what would you do with the money? The survey received 503 responses and overall findings proved interesting.

Of the 503 respondents, 21% of people would put £100K towards a new home. This put property in pole position when reviewing the data. Interestingly, however, only 12% of people survey would consider injecting £100K into property for investment purposes.

Following close behind buying a new home, and sitting in second place with 20.6% of responses, is using £100K to clear a mortgage and/or pay off other debts. With many homeowners having to opt for coronavirus mortgage payment holidays from their providers in 2020 it is no surprise that clearing debt is of high importance for many respondents.

Saving it for a rainy day received the third highest number of respondents, with 20% happy to sit on their hypothetical £100K until it was needed. With less than 1% between the top three answers in November we can safely conclude that property, debt clearance and saving were at the forefront of people’s minds when it came down to money. Investing and pensions were the least favoured answers.

27% of women would spend £100K on a new house

However, did this vary between men and women? Whilst both men and women shared the same top three answers overall, 22% of men would save their £100K for a rainy day, whereas 27% of women would use it towards a new house. 27% of women would also use £100K to pay off their mortgage or any other outstanding debts compared to only 16% of men. Both men and women had similar top-ranking responses, with investments and pensions only a consideration for 22% of men and 17% of women overall.

A quarter of 18-24 year olds would save their £100K for a rainy day

Utilising November’s survey results, SOLD.CO.UK were able to explore not only differences between men and women, but age groups too.

A quarter of 18-24 year olds would save their £100K for a rainy day closely followed by buying a house. 22% of respondents chose bricks & mortar over spending on luxuries such as cars and expensive holidays (14%). Interestingly, the youngest demographic is also the only group of respondents where saving their money is ranked in the top position. Understandably pensions are not a priority for the younger demographic, with just 5% of respondents wanting to use their £100K towards later life.

25-34 year olds are more likely to buy an investment property

Buying a house is how 25% of 25-34 year olds would spend £100K, closely followed by 22% opting to save for a rainy day. This demographic also has the highest percentage of respondents choosing to purchase a property to let or sell, with 18% wanting to generate more income with their £100K than any other age group studied. Indulging in luxuries, saving for retirement and investing in stocks and shares are not highly appealing to the 25-34 year old age group.

28% of 35-44 year olds would use £100K to clear debts                                

Clearing debt is a priority for 35-44 year old respondents, with 28% stating they use £100K to pay off their mortgage and/or other debts. Like other age demographics discussed already, buying a new house and saving the £100K for a rainy day were close behind.

45-55 year olds would like to pay off their mortgage

The 45-55 age group has the highest number of respondents wanting to use £100K towards their mortgage or debts, coming in at 36%. 21% of respondents in this age bracket would save the £100K and 14% would put it towards a new home. As is now a trend with our data, luxuries, pension pots and investments are not how this demographic would spend £100K.

Clear debt and buying a new house are important to 55-64 year olds

24% of the 55-64 year old age group would prefer to pay off debts and/or their mortgage with £100K. The exact same percentage of respondents selected that they would use the money against a new house to live in. Along with saving the money for a rainy day (14%), these three survey responses have featured in the top three positions for all the age brackets between 25 and reaching 64.

22% of 65+ age group would indulge in luxuries

The results for the 65+ demographic is unlike any age group as part of November’s portion of the survey. Similar to many of the other age groups, 23% of those aged 65 and over would put £100K towards a new home. However, 22% would splurge the money on luxuries and experiences, the highest response to this category out of all age brackets. Saving the £100K for a rainy day is still considered a viable option, with 18% of 65+ opting for this.  

Property trumps November’s survey results

Despite the political, economic, and social uncertainty roused by the pandemic people were not deterred people from buying property in November, albeit with their hypothetical £100K. With 21% of respondents opting to spend their £100K on a new house it does not appear that the turbulent year has swayed the nation’s minds from property and savings. Despite the property market having ground to a halt in the initial lockdown when estate agents weren’t allowed to operate for a period, the buying and selling of property picked up in Q3 and this trend carried on to Q4. Would the nation’s minds be changed when the same survey was run in December considering Christmas and the Brexit transition end date looming? Find out below…

December 2020 – Lockdown Ended and Brexit Loomed

In early December England came out of its second lockdown, entering a tiered system to help control the spread of coronavirus. As of Wednesday 2nd December, much of the country was placed into tiers 2 and 3 which held stricter restrictions than tier 1. However, the government did state that between the 23rd ad 27th of December households could form Christmas bubbles. With the government originally using the four-week temporary lockdown to ensure a ‘normal’ Christmas, many people were left underwhelmed when the tier system was put in place. Essentially, people were assuming life would be much more ‘normal’.

During the Christmas period the government and the public shifted focus away from the pandemic, momentarily, to catch up on Brexit. Whilst COVID-19 was at the forefront of everyone’s agendas, Brexit transitions were ultimately put on the back burner. Whether the UK left with a deal or no deal in place, it would be leaving the EU as of the 1st January 2021. Change for citizens and businesses were outlined on the government website, but with the pressing matter of the pandemic at the forefront of the public’s mind, Brexit legislation was not a priority.

Given the significant changes and the Christmas period, in December SOLD.CO.UK posed the same question if you won £100K what would you do with the money? The survey received 500 responses and overall findings proved interesting.

Overall, the public’s mind had changed compared to November. Using £100K towards a new home was no longer the objective, with 24% of all respondents opting to use the money towards paying off their mortgage or other debts. Buying a new house dropped to third position. Saving the £100K for a rainy day jumped up a position. However, the percentage of respondents stayed the same as November – 20%. Less than 17% of those surveyed were interested in investing their hypothetical £100K in any capacity. It is clear to see that clearing debt and saving was a priority for respondents in December, similar to November.

Men less interested in saving for a rainy day

Saving their £100K was the priority for men in November, but this did not carry into December. Saving for a rainy day dropped to position two, 26% of men were now more driven on spending the money on debts or clearing a mortgage. Interestingly, buying a new house to live in was still the number one priority for women in December. However, unlike the previous month, there was less than 3% in the top three rankings, including saving for a rainy day and debt clearance.

In November, higher percentages of women and men would spend £100K on luxuries, this has dropped in December by approximately 3% for each. In December men and women were still relatively uninterested in putting £100K towards a pension or investment.  

28% of those aged 18 to 24 would save £100K

Previously 25% of the youngest demographic studied would prioritise saving £100K for a rainy day. This trend continued in December, with the percentage increasing to 28%. Buying a new house was the second choice for respondents in this age group and although clearing a mortgage and/or other debts was not a focus in November, it featured in December’s results in third position.

Interestingly, indulging in luxuries dropped from 14% in November to 10% in December. Furthermore, investments replaced debt repayments and pensions as the least preferred options for those aged 18 to 24 to utilise £100K.

25 – 34 year olds lose interest in debt repayment

Back in November, paying off a mortgage or clearing debts with the hypothetical £100K winnings was of the upmost importance to those aged 25 – 34. This dropped in December, with the option dropping into fourth place with just 16% of respondents opting in. Using winnings towards a new house now tops the chart for this age group, as well as 22% of respondents also finding saving the money appealing – an increase of 6% on November.

Indulging in luxuries has increased by 6.2% whereas investments and pensions have become less of an enticing option.

39% of those aged 35 – 44 would use £100K to pay off their mortgage

Clearing debt is still a priority for 35 – 44 year old respondents, with 38.8% stating they use £100K to pay off their mortgage and/or other debts – a 10% rise on November. Similar to other age demographics, buying a new house with the winnings was close behind, with 26% of responses. Unlike other demographics, saving for a rainy day received a low reaction, with just 9% of respondents in this demographic considering saving for the future. Indulging in luxuries, saving for retirement and investing in stocks and shares are not priorities for those aged 35-44.

Using £100K towards a new home dropped by 8% for those aged 45-55

Clearing a mortgage or debt came out on top again in December for those in the age group. 36% of 45 to 55 year olds stated they’d use the money towards a property, an increase from 30 compared to November. More 45 – 55 year olds were interested in saving for a rainy day compared to November (21%) whereas buying a new house live in using the £100K dropped by 8% for this demographic month on month. Stocks and shares sat in bottom position again, along with putting capital towards your pension which dropped from 9% to 4% in December.

Saving for a rainy day drops by 11% for 55 – 64 year old respondents

Those surveyed in this age group changed their tune from November with saving for a rainy day falling from the top spit and responses decreasing by 11%. In its place, clearing a mortgage or debt using the imaginary £100K was most important to the demographic with 24% of responses (up 5% since Nov). Indulging in luxuries remained at 14% and investments and pensions were, again, not how the majority of 55-64 would spend their money

Buying a new house to live in dropped 6% for

Last month 23% of those aged 65+ wanted to use £100K against a new house to live in. This dropped to 17% in December, with saving the £100K it for a rainy day taking the top spot (23%). Using the funds to clear a mortgage or debt dropped by almost 10% compared to November.  The percentage of respondents wanting to put £100K towards their pension double compared to November – 11%.

Debt clearance and saving overtakes property in December’s results

Respondents changed their tune in December. Whilst the previous month saw 21% of those surveyed opt to spend their imaginary £100K winnings on a new house to live in, this option dropped into third position in December. Saving for a rainy day crept into position two and repaying a mortgage and/or other debts took the top spot with 24% of responses. With money always a concern during the Christmas period – more so in December 2020 given the turbulent year – could it be that four weeks has been people tighten their purse strings? 2020 was undoubtedly a financial struggle for the majority of households so it is no surprise that getting a handle on finances would be a priority.

With the same survey being run in January, would the impact of the end of the Brexit transition have an effect on responses going forward? 

January 2021 – Left the EU and Lockdown 3

The new year chimed in and things were looking up for England. The transition period had ended, and the UK left the EU. Furthermore, despite the majority of the country falling into tiers 3 and 4 of the pandemic restrictions, 2021 felt like the country had entered the final furlong. However, despite government warnings and a clamp down on mixing over the festive period, coronavirus cases and deaths were on the rise.

After pressure from Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister once again plunged the country into a national lockdown as of 5th January. No official end date was given regarding the lockdown, with Boris Johnson stating it would last approximately six weeks. However, legislation was put in place until 31st March. Citizens were once again told to stay at home other than to go to work, shop for necessities, exercise, meet your support bubble, seek medical assistance, or facilitate childcare. Social distancing of 2 metres was to be maintained and schools and non-essential shops shut. The country was back to square one; a viewed shared by the majority of the public.

Given the turbulent introduction to the new year, in January SOLD.CO.UK posed the same question if you won £100K what would you do with the money? The survey received 506 responses and findings were interesting compared to December.

Taking into consideration January’s results, using the £100K to clear a mortgage and/or other debts was top of the list. Surprisingly, saving for a rainy day dropped into position three, representing a 3% decrease in popularity. Buying a new house to live in with the £100K winnings increased by 1%. Overall, it was clear to see that the top three ways of spending the hypothetical winnings had not changes dramatically since the survey was rolled out in November.

Men and women shift attention away from buying a new house

Putting £100K towards a new home has dropped in popularity compared to previous months amongst both men and women. Using the money to clear a mortgage and/or other debts increased 9% for women in January, leaping from position three in December into position one. Saving for a rainy day dropped to 13.9% in January (from 18% in December) whereas the same result increased by 4% for men, taking it to the top choice. Men were less interested in clearing debts in January, with a 6% decline in respondents for this answer during the survey.

10% less of 18 to 24 year olds want to save for a rainy day

Saving dropped off the agenda for the youngest demographic surveyed in January, with the option dropping to third position. Using the hypothetical winnings, those aged 18 to 34 were most likely to use it to clear any debt, with the option increasing 7% month on month. Topping the charts, however, was buying a new house to live in, with 23.7% of responses, an increase of 3% on December. Pension investment replaced investing in stocks and shares as the least likely way those aged 18-24 would spend £100K.

Clearing debt is important to those aged 25-34 in the new year

Echoing December, using the £100K to pay off a mortgage or clear outstanding debt remained the top choice for this age bracket, increasing 4% on December. Buying a new house to live in remained in position two month on month. Investing in a property to sell or let and saving for a rainy day swapped places in the new year, with investing in property with the £100K increasing by 4% and saving for a rainy day decreasing 1%.

Respondents aged 35-44 showed increased interested in investing in property

Clearing debt is still a priority for 35-44 year olds survey, with 39.2% stating they use £100K to pay off their mortgage and/or other debts. Interestingly, investing in a property to sell or let moved into second position, the highest out of all other age groups. Saving for a rainy day decreased in popularity, instead being replaced by buying a new house to live in. Indulging in luxuries increased 5% for 35-44 year olds, with investing in stocks and shares and putting capital towards a pension taking the bottom two rankings.

44-55 year olds are still focused on paying off debt

With a 2% increase, using the hypothetical winnings to clear a mortgage or debt came out on top again in January for this age group. Like those aged 35-44, buying a new house and saving for a rainy day were popular choices, with buying a new house increasing just over 3% compared to December. Investing in a property to sell or let dropped 3% and investing in stocks shares remained at the bottom of the table again for this demographic.

Debt clearing decreased by 8% amongst those aged 55-64

Saving for a rainy day stayed the same at the top in Jan for this age demographic, with 25.5% of respondents opting to spend £100K in this way. Using the money to clear a mortgage or debt decreased by 8%, dropping from position two to position four when compared to December. Buying a new house sat in position two, increasing 10% on the previous month. Indulging in luxuries, once popular option with 14.6% of responses dropped down the table, with roughly 1 in 9 of those aged 55-64 choosing the option.

Those aged 65+ are keen to indulge in luxuries

Saving the 100K for a rainy day increased by 2% month on month and remained the most popular choice for those aged 65+. Clearing a mortgage or debt dropped 5% from position two to position four in January. However, both buying a new house to live in and indulging in luxuries were still contenders and increased roughly 1% in popularity month on month. Investing in stocks and shares was at the bottom of the barrel for the age bracket, with pensions and property investment in the lower tier too.

Paying back a mortgage and clearing debt remains

Reviewing data from back in November, 21% of those surveyed wished to spend their £100K on a new house to live in. In December repaying debts was the top focus for 24% of respondents and this trend carried on into the new year, with 24.5% choosing the same option in January. With Christmas having been and gone and the UK put into another lockdown, could it have been that Brits were focused on decreasing any outstanding money owed given the financial hardships many were facing due to job loss or furlough? Surprisingly, despite the grey cloud of lockdown firmly over the heads of citizens, 20% would still happily use their hypothetical winnings to secure a new house to live in. With many people working from home during the previous 12 months, office and outdoor space has become essential qualities in a home for many.  Again, saving the money for a rainy day featured in the top three results. Likely a result of the financial anguish faced throughout 2020 and into the new year.

With the same survey being run in February, would the impact of a third lockdown (with potential for it to be extended) change the way in which people were thinking about their finances?

February 2021 – Vaccines & Lockdown 3 Continues

As February begun it was clear there was no ‘roadmap to unblocking’ restrictions in the UK. However, prime minster Boris Johnson was under pressure to reveal a plan on 22nd February. With the vaccine programme accelerating – 10 million people in the UK had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of 6th February – the public were keen to fall into a semblance of normal life. Over the past four months the team at SOLD.CO.UK have been analysing data from our monthly surveys to help us better understand the impact of the pandemic on personal finances and whether property is still how UK citizens want to spend money. In February the team posed the question for the final time, if you won £100K what would you do with the money? The survey received 514 responses and changes month on month were apparent.  

Despite using the hypothetical winnings to clear a mortgage or debt in both December and January, buying a new house topped the survey results in February with nearly a quarter of all respondents choosing property. Saving for a rainy day, a popular choice across the months, remained in 3rd position despite a 2% month on month increase. Investing in a property to sell or let also increased 1% compared to December, whereas indulging in luxuries saw little movement. Investing in stocks and shares or putting capital towards a pension remained the bottom choices for spending £100K winnings overall.

Nearly a third of all women want to buy a new house to live in

Buying a new house to live in hit the top spot for women as the most popular way to spend £100K in February. This choice stepped up 2% on January’s position two result.  Using the money to clear a debt or mortgage, as well as saving for a rainy day took the remaining top three rankings for females.

For men, saving for a rainy day topped the table again in February. This was also an increase of 2% on the last months results. Interestingly, clearing debt decreased 8% in popularity in February compared to January, taking it into third position. Buying a new house to live in with the hypothetical winnings was the second most popular choice in February for men. However, it was 6% less than women.

Saving and debt clearance take priority for 18-24 year olds

Buying a new house to live in remained in second position for the youngest demographic studied in February. However, the percentage of interested parties fell by 4% month on month. Clearing a mortgage or other debt and saving the money for a rainy day had identical results and ranked joint first, with 21.7% of the results each. Pension investment replaced investing in stocks and shares as the least likely way those aged 18-24 would spend £100K winnings. Putting capital towards a pension was at the bottom of the choices in January but increased from 2% to 11% in February.

Clearing debt falls by 13% for those aged 25 to 34

Clearing a mortgage or debt with the winnings plummeted from top position in January by 12% in February. However, the often-popular choice remained in joint second place with saving the money for a rainy day. Buying a new house to live in increased 10% compared to last month and sat in top position with 33% of 25- to 34-year-olds picking this survey option. Putting capital towards a pension remained at the bottom of the results for this demographic.

35 – 44 year olds would use winnings to buy a new home

Like the 25-34 age group, buying a new house to live in increased 13% compared to January – taking the choice from third to first ranking. Using the winnings to clear a mortgage or debt fell from the top spot with a large decrease of 18%. Investing in a property to sell or let – which fared strongly in second position in January – dropped down the rankings, whereas saving the money for a rainy day increased from 8% in January to 18% in February. Indulging in luxuries became a more popular choice climbing into position five from the bottom of the pack the previous month.

Debt repayment remained popular for 45-55 year olds

Using the hypothetical winnings to pay off a mortgage pr debt remained the most popular choice for those aged 45-55 month on month despite a drop of 4% on January. Buying a new house to live in increased 8% whereas saving for a rainy day dropped by 2% – leaving the options remaining in second and third places.

In February those aged 45-55 less likely to use winnings to indulge in luxuries but investing in property to sell or let climbed rankings from the bottom spots.

A quarter of 55-64 year olds would use the winnings to buy a new house

Buying a new house to live in was how 55-64 would spend their hypothetical winnings in February. Saving for a rainy day dropped from the top spot into third with a decrease of 7% month on month. Using the £100K to pay off a mortgage or other debt saw the biggest jump for the age demographic, from 13% in Jan to 22% in February. Indulging in luxuries also increased by 7% for the age group, taking the choice into position four.

Those aged 65+ would prefer to save for a rainy day

 Saving for a rainy day remained the top choice for those aged 65+ in February, increasing by 5% on the previous month. Buying a new house to live in and property investment fell into positions two and three having increased slightly on January’s results. Using the winnings to clear debt fell from position four to six in February but it was investing in stocks and shares that took the bottom spot again. Interest in indulging in luxuries also dwindled in February for the 65+ age group.

Buying a new house tops the results for the first time since November

When reviewing each of the four months SOLD.CO.UK ran surveys, buying a new house to live in topped the results in November, with 21%. December and January saw the result flitter between positions two and three, before reclaiming the top spot with over a quarter of respondents in February. In December and January repaying debts was the top focus for 24% of respondents.

Could the property market functioning in the new state of normal be encouraging people to buy and sell property? Had the latest lockdown inspired people to focus on obtaining properties with larger gardens and rooms to be used as offices? From February’s results it is clear to see that buying a new house with £100K would be the top choice for respondents, followed by debt clearance (22%) and saving the money for a rainy day (20%).

Conclusion: do Brits still want to spend on bricks and mortar?

During our four month study the SOLD.CO.UK team released a brand new survey every month answering the question if you won £100K what would you do with the money? Answers available were as follows:

  • Buy a new house to live in
  • Invest in a property to sell or let
  • Save it for a rainy day
  • Clear mortgage and/or other debts
  • Indulge in luxuries such as holidays/cars
  • Put capital towards your pension
  • Invest in stocks and shares

With property having always been the nation’s sweetheart when it came to parting with money or investing, we wanted to discover whether this was still the case and if the social and economic changes over the fourth months of November, December, January, and February had a bearing on people’s opinions. By offering a hypothetical £100K, we were able to gauge the true thoughts of respondents as they had nothing to lose.

When we discuss the results of the four-month long piece of research as a whole we can see that property does not come out on top. Collating the results from each month has revealed that UK citizens are more interested in debt clearance or repaying a mortgage with the hypothetical £100K. 22.8% of respondents highlighted this choice and it trumped both of our property choices overall. It is no secret that 2020 saw many people lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and many people have focused much of their energy on saving and making their money go as far as possible. Considering the UK is officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years it is no surprise that personal finances were the most important consideration for respondents.

Following just 1.5% behind, with 21.3% of the overall results is using the £100K to buy a new house to live in. With England and other UK countries having spent the majority of 2020 and 2021 thus far in lockdown or a tiers system, more time at home has highlighted to many what they need in a property.

With many people working and educating their children from home, greater emphasis has been placed on properties that offer:

  • Larger gardens
  • Offices/studies
  • Spare bedrooms
  • Closeness to family/friends
  • Opportunities for walking

With this in mind, it was inevitable that buying a new house if you were to win £100K would be a contender for the top spot. Whilst clearing debts took the top ranking it is not surprising, considering the turbulent year, that many people wish to get their finances in order. This is further backed up by saving the money for a rainy day sitting in position three with 19.8% of responses overall.

Property may not currently be the way in which people would spend money if it came their way but considering the effect that both the pandemic and Brexit has had economically and socially, being mindful of debt and savings is understandable.

If you have a media enquiry or require insights from a property expert here at SOLD.CO.UK, please get in touch with us at digital@sold.co.uk.