London leavers buy nearly 74,000 homes outside capital

Abigail Fenton
·Writer
·3 min read
(Maximillian Conacher/Unsplash)
(Maximillian Conacher/Unsplash)

Londoners moving outside the city bought nearly 74,000 homes in 2020, research suggests

One of the biggest trends to emerge in the housing market since the onset of COVID-19 has been outmigration from cities, particularly for those leaving London.

London leavers purchased 73,950 homes outside the capital in 2020, according to data from Hamptons International Lettings.

This is the highest number in four years, despite a seven-week closure of the housing market.

Collectively, Londoners bought £27.6bn worth of property outside the capital this year, which is the highest value since 2007 when London out-migration peaked.

This figure exceeds the total value of all homes sold in the north-west last year (£24.8bn).

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In the first half of 2020, London leavers bought 6.9% of homes sold outside the capital, equating to 24,480 sales.

However, in the second half of 2020, this figure rose to 7.8% and twice as many sales — a whopping 49,470.

In this half of the year alone, Londoners purchased £18.4bn worth of property outside the capital. This is more than in any full year between 2008 and 2013, the data shows.

What’s more, since the housing market re-opened in May, Londoners leaving the capital have travelled further than ever before amid lockdown-fuelled demand for more space and a less built-up environment.

The average distance moved by a Londoner buying outside the capital hit 40 miles for the first time in over a decade, up from just 28 miles during the first three months of the year (chart 2).

This means the average person leaving London from May onwards travels as far as Cambridge to the north, Colchester to the east, Brighton to the south or Didcot to the west.

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However, while on average those buying outside the capital have bought further away than at any time during the last decade, how far buyers travel depends on who they are and how strong their ties to London are.

First-time buyers tend to retain more of their ties to the capital, moving shorter distances than anyone else. Since May, the average first-time buyer leaving the capital bought 26 miles away, the data shows.

On the other hand, someone selling a home in London tends to sever their ties more deeply by moving much further. The average person selling their London home to buy outside the capital travels 41 miles — 57% further than a first-time buyer.

These numbers are reflected in the sorts of homes leavers buy, with someone buying a two-bed property moving an average of 34 miles, while someone buying a four-bed travels 43 miles, the research found.

Sevenoaks in Kent saw the biggest increase in the share of homes bought by Londoners. This year, 62% of homes in the area were bought from a Londoner — 39% higher than in 2019.

Meanwhile, Windsor and Maidenhead (27%), Oxford (17%) and Rushmoor in Hampshire follow (15%).

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