Property portal detects rise in searches from overseas buyers

Overseas buyers are eyeing up the UK property market for potential bargains amid the chaos of Brexit negotiations, according to a new study which shows that searches from abroad have risen steadily.

The growth has been marked since the referendum in June 2016 when the UK voted to leave the European Union, according to property portal Placebuzz. It found that searches for UK property by overseas buyers accounted for 6.2% of all activity in the first three months of this year, compared to just 3.6% during January to March 2016, an increase of 72%.

And overseas buyers are not looking just at London. The data found that regional cities such as Glasgow and Birmingham top the list and the research suggests they could be expats looking to return home due to Brexit uncertainty.

Foreign investors, keen to capitalise on opportunities to buy into the UK market at a discount as a result of softening prices and a weak pound, are also looking at property and the firm suggests that if the value of sterling drops further, as is anticipated in a No Deal Brexit scenario, overseas investors could increase even more.

While London is in strong demand as the third most sought after location, the top two are Glasgow and Birmingham. Then after the capital comes Manchester, Leicester, Edinburgh, Nottingham and then Sheffield.

When it comes to who is looking for property, the top country is the United States, followed by Spain, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Canada, France, India, Italy and then Germany, suggesting there is interest on a global scale. US house hunters made almost 50,000 searches in the first quarter of the year.

‘With sterling currently worth around 12% less against the dollar than pre-referendum, buying UK property is a very shrewd move for foreign investors looking to secure a bargain,’ said Neil Tillott, business director at Placebuzz.

‘Owning property in the UK is a goal of many overseas property investors and we’ve seen a clear rise in the proportion of searches for UK property which are taking place overseas since June 2016. Foreign buyers view the impact of Brexit chaos on house prices and the value of sterling as a rare opportunity to buy into the market at favourable prices, with a long-term view,’ he explained.

‘Uncertainty over the rights of British expats living in Europe as well as access to healthcare and pensions, is also likely to be prompting many of them to consider a return to the UK, driving demand for property,’ he added.