Property news: Homeowners say internet is as important as heat or light

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An internet connection is now just as important as heat and light to many homeowners, according to Yorkshire-based property portal www.newhomefinder.co.uk

Martin Hoyle, chief executive of the property search site, which specialises in newly-built homes, said: “Digital connectivity has become the fourth utility. It is just as important as gas, electricity and water to most people. A few years ago if they lost their internet connection it was upsetting but now it is a disaster.

“When you think about it, it is understandable. We are reliant on it. We use it for emails, for work, for watching TV, listening to music, Facebook, gaming, shopping, ordering takeaways and finding vital information via Google.

“Most young people now use it for chatting with friends. Instead of using their mobile phone to make calls, most of them now use apps like Periscope.

“A prime example of how important it is, especially to the young, is a colleague’s son who came downstairs to complain that his iPad had stopped working but he hadn’t even realised that the lights had gone out because of a power cut.”

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, 84 per cent of all households in Britain had internet access in 2014, up from 57 per cent in 2006.

Three quarters of adults accessed the internet every day and the figures are expected to rise.

Even though most people now feel lost without digital connectivity, they often forget about it when they move house.

Mr Hoyle said: “Finding the right property in the right location is uppermost in a buyer’s mind and they often forget to check the strength of the mobile phone signal and the broadband speeds.

“Even more common is not organising a connection before they move in. You walk into your new house and you can switch a light on, turn on the oven and get water from the tap. But a broadband connection won’t be there unless you have organised it beforehand. If you don’t book in advance you could be waiting weeks for an engineer to come out. It is important to pre-book a slot.”

Mr Hoyle has this advice for buyers: when buying a house, check the strength of the mobile phone signal and the broadband speeds in the area.

This is especially important in rural areas where provision can be erratic. Speed is essential if you want quick download times and if your children like online gaming. You can check mobile coverage at www.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage and broadband speeds can be checked via www.broadband.co.uk.

You should also the developer or homeowner if there any issues with connectivity and if you are not satisfied ask around in shops and pubs in the area.

Not all properties have cable or fibre optic broadband, so you need to check what service is available in the area that you are moving to.