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Why broadband is key for house hunters

Wednesday, November 6th 2013 by Hannah Ricci
Alongside good transport links, low crime rates and quality schools, strong broadband coverage is an increasingly important factor in deciding where we live. In fact, it’s so important that property website Rightmove rolled out a new service to enable house hunters to discover the broadband speed available at any property listed on the site.

If you’ve ever experienced buffering while trying to watch a favourite show on catch-up TV or found yourself impatiently tapping your fingers waiting for files to download, you’ll appreciate being able to check the available broadband speed in a particular area before you commit to moving.

While this information has been available for some time on comparison sites like ours, Rightmove’s decision to present it on its own site indicates what a major issue broadband is for people moving house - and rightly so. So much of what we do now relies on a fast and reliable internet connection - from entertainment to communication – that it would be foolhardy not to check broadband quality while house-hunting.

This is a point for another blog and another time, but it does bring into focus whether or not we should be ploughing over £40 billion into HS2 to provide faster rail connections from select parts of the country to the capital, while huge areas of our rural landscape still grapple to get online with frustratingly slow broadband or no connection at all.

So armed with the knowledge of how fast (or not) the broadband will be in their new potential home, buyers are shunning properties in rural communities with poor broadband, according to high-end estate agency Prime Purchase.

Frank Speir, director at Prime Purchase, told the Telegraph that unacceptably slow broadband speeds were "having a definite effect" on the decisions of his buyers - even those who might require little more than "the flexibility to be able to work from home one day a week".

Moreover, Mr Speir even admitted to having personally dissuaded some of these individuals from purchasing houses in places that are poorly served by network coverage. Quite a refreshing example of honesty in an industry often ridiculed for attempting to pull the wool over buyers’ eyes.

Of course it’s not so great for the vendors, stuck in properties with poor broadband coverage and unable to sell thanks to buyers wising up and checking coverage in advance. But it’s another case for why the government must step up its efforts to improve coverage for rural areas and roll out superfast fibre networks at a far faster rate than present.

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