The UK’s pandemic property boom of rural relocation has been driven by record levels of Londoners buying outside the capital — and it’s set to continue until the end of the year.
A new forecast reveals that the number of homes being purchased by Londoners in 2021 in the home counties and beyond will hit 108,000 and exceed the 100,000 mark for the first time since 2007.
During the first six months of this year, when the UK was in lockdown, those fleeing the capital bought 61,830 properties. This is the highest half year figure since the estate agent Hamptons starting recording such data.
From January to July, Londoners made up 8.6 per cent of all buyers outside the capital — up from 6.6 per cent in 2020.
The combination of high house prices in the city and the rise of flexible working drove home owners to cash in their urban flats and houses and go in search of bigger homes with gardens in the suburbs and smaller towns and villages.
“Pandemic-fuelled city outmigration shows no signs of slowing. Despite lockdowns easing, and offices and restaurants and offices reopening, Londoners have continued to re-evaluate where they would want to live, with many bringing future planned moves forward,” says Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons.
“While London attracts more buyers from outside the capital than pre-pandemic, the numbers are still relatively low to those leaving, meaning London’s population is likely to fall this year,” she explains.
Working from countryside or coast
Due to the belief that more people will be able to work from home more of the time, Londoners took the chance to move further than ever before.
The average Londoner buying outside the capital purchased 34.6 miles away, 12 per cent or 3.6 miles further than in 2019, before the coronavirus swept the world.
While 60 per cent relocating Londoners chose suburbs and small towns, a third moved to the countryside while more people looking at coastal locations such as Whitstable and Margate, according to Hamptons.
The research showed that 41 per cent stayed within the wider south east while 27 per cent relocated to the east of England.
First-time buyers get on the ladder outside London
With more young people and junior workers effected by the furlough scheme, affordability in London for first-time buyers has become even more stretched.
As a result, and motivated by the stamp duty holiday, more first-time buyers have opted to get on the ladder outside the capital.
They have chosen affordability over convenience, amenities and culture. This buyer tribe made up a quarter of Londoners buying outside the capital during the first half of this year — the highest share on record.
“The proportion has been growing over time but the pandemic has accelerated the change,” the Hamptons report read. The average first-time buyer spent £318,300 on their first home outside the capital. This is £160,000 less than someone who sold a home in London to move.
However, the influx of home buyers into small towns and villages also increases the affordability crisis in countryside locations.
A recent report, also by Hamptons, showed that rural house prices in England and Wales are rising twice as fast as in cities. One of the hot spots is West Sussex as people relocate from London.