Number of homes purchased by ‘London leavers’ highest since 2016, study finds

An estimated 73,950 homes were bought outside London by people moving out of the capital in 2020 – marking the highest total in four years – according to a report.

It was the highest total since around 78,170 properties were bought elsewhere in Britain by London leavers in 2016.

The average London leaver spent £372,860 on their home outside the capital, the research from estate agent and property services company Hamptons found.

It said that, on average, Londoners selling up in order to buy outside the city move 41 miles.

The areas with the biggest increases in the share of homes bought by Londoners this year are, in order, Sevenoaks, followed by Windsor and Maidenhead, Oxford, Rushmoor, Eastbourne, Wokingham, Stevenage, Luton, Epsom and Ewell, Brighton and Hove, Gravesham, and Watford, the report said.

First-time buyers from London tend to retain more of their ties to the capital, moving shorter distances typically, Hamptons said. Since May, the average first-time buyer leaving the capital moved 26 miles away.

Differences in distance travelled were also found in the types of homes that London leavers choose, with someone buying a two-bedroom property moving an average of 34 miles on average, while someone purchasing a four-bedroom home travels 43 miles typically.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “Despite Covid-19 closing the housing market for seven weeks, the number of homes bought by Londoners outside the capital has risen to the highest level in four years.

“While leaving London has been a rite of passage for many – often families reaching life stage milestones – the effects of lockdown and the desire for space seems to have heightened this drift.

“Meanwhile, the lure of a stamp duty holiday acted as an impetus for more buyers to bring future planned moves forward.

“The prospect of home-working more regularly has also meant that London leavers are moving further than ever before. The average London leaver moved 10 miles further than in 2019 as buyers favour space over commutability.

“We expect this outmigration trend to continue into the first half of next year too.”

She added: “Given the housing market has been anything but normal since the onset of Covid, we expect to see the total number of homes bought by London leavers next year hit 2016 levels.”

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