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Overseas buyers ‘more likely to under-use London property’

  • 15/06/2017
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Overseas buyers ‘more likely to under-use London property’
Overseas investors are more likely to hold property in the capital that is under-used, according to research by the Centre for Housing Policy.

It said 13% of London’s new build property was bought by overseas investors over a two year period. However, the proportion of new builds sold to overseas buyers rose during this time, from 10.5% in 2014 to 17.9% in 2016.

The team used 2011 census data to extrapolate the likely use of the homes. It inferred that 10.2% of the new build homes were under occupied, though this rose to almost half (49.5%) in prime London.

Properties over £1m had a higher vacancy rate (38.8%) and the rate was even greater for homes over £5m (63.8%).

The University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy studied new build sales from April 2014 to March 2016 in a bid to discover the proportion sold to overseas buyers and if they are more likely to be left empty.

Three-fifths of overseas sales were to people or companies from four countries in south-east Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and China.


graph 1

Fewer overseas mortgages

Across all sales 67.3% were mortgaged, though overseas owners were less likely to have a mortgage (53.5%) than UK purchasers (69.4%).

Overall overseas owners bought higher value properties (median price of £500,000) than UK-based buyers (median price of £415,000). But this was not uniform across London. UK owners bought slightly higher value properties than overseas owners in prime London boroughs but there was little difference in other areas, and in inner and outer London boroughs the differences were not significant.


graph 3

The report concludes that overseas owners are more likely to hold property that is under-used, 42.3% compared to 5.6% of UK owners. However, as overseas investors are a smaller proportion of the market, in absolute terms similar numbers of under-occupied new build properties are likely to be owned by UK and overseas purchasers.

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