Number of homes in prime central London bought by overseas buyers at highest level for six years

More than half of homes in the prime central London property market were bought by overseas buyers in the second half of 2018, new research shows.

With 57% bought by international buyers, it was the highest level since the second half of 2012 when it was 58%, according to the latest buyer and seller survey from Hamptons International.

The research also shows that the biggest group of overseas buyers is from the European Union, making up 19% of homes bought in the six month period, up from 10% in the second half of 2017.

A breakdown of the figures show that the proportion of international buyers rose from 55% in the second half of 2017 and 39% in the second half of 2016 following the EU referendum. Before the vote international buyers bought 40% of homes in prime central London in the second half of 2015.

According to the report the rise in the number of overseas buyers in the second half of 2018 was due to a fall in British buyers combined with an increase in EU buyers, while the proportion of homes bought by Middle Eastern buyers has nearly halved over the last year from 15% in the second half of 2017 to 8% in the second half of 2018.

Meanwhile, it also shows that in Greater London the proportion of homes bought by an international buyer also rose to the highest level in six years. International buyers bought 36% of homes in Greater London in the second half of 2018, up from 31% in the same period in 2017. This proportion is 15% higher than in the second half of 2015, before the referendum, when 21% of homes were bought by a buyer from overseas.

Hamptons International says that this rise was also due to an increase in EU buyers in Greater London at 14% in the second half of 2018, up from 8% in the second half of 2017 and 10% in the second half of 2015.

Over the last year the proportion of homes bought by buyers from India increased by 3%, while the number of buyers from Russia and Hong Kong both increased by 1%.

‘Sterling’s weakness, making it cheaper for many international buyers, seems to be outweighing Brexit uncertainty when it comes to foreign buyers making a decision on where to buy a home,’ said Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research at Hamptons International.

‘A property that would have cost an EU buyer £1 million in the first half of 2016 effectively cost £124,000 less in the second half of 2018 due to sterling’s depreciation,’ she added.