Scotland overtakes London as fastest-moving market for million-pound homes

Scotland has overtaken London as the fastest-moving market for million-pound properties as “millionaire movers” swap their city commutes for more rural retreats, according to Rightmove.

Top-end homes in Scotland are finding a buyer in 61 days on average – 25 days faster than before the coronavirus pandemic when it took 86 days, the website said.

The analysis compared the year before the pandemic with the year since the housing market re-opened.

John Boyle, director at Rettie & Co in Scotland said: “The Scottish £1 million market has proven to be resilient in the face of the pandemic.

“Just like the wider housing market here, demand has been moving well ahead of supply, leading to price rises and fast-moving sales.

“The market is particularly strong in the east of the country, with Edinburgh alone accounting for well over half of all Scottish £1 million sales.

“However, other areas are seeing rising £1 million sales, particularly in outlying areas of the wider Lothians market, with sales outside Edinburgh notably higher in the east compared with recent years.”

London’s overall influence on the prime property market appears to have weakened slightly, with some people now able to work from home looking to move to spacious properties located away from the city.

With more workers having some flexibility to move out of London, the South East of England recorded the biggest increase in the share of million pound homes across Britain, rising from 26% to 29%.

James Wyatt, director at Barton Wyatt in Virginia Water, Surrey, said: “During 2020 we saw many UK buyers and tenants moving out of London, keeping us busy. In 2021 we have seen no let up, but now also have seen the return of international buyers.”

Stockbridge in Hampshire was identified as having the biggest rise in the proportion of homes that are selling for a million pounds or over. The percentage of all sales in the area worth one million pounds or more has jumped from 11% to 26% now.

The fastest-moving area outside London is Thames Ditton in Surrey, where million pound homes are finding a buyer in just 26 days typically.

With good travel links to London, Hertfordshire is also home to many fast-moving hotspots, with leafy Berkhamsted, St Albans and Hitchin also on the list.

St Albans
St Albans has a particularly fast-moving market for million pound homes, according to Rightmove (Chris Radburn/PA)

Over the past year, million-pound homes in London have taken an average of 67 days to find a buyer.

This compared with an average of 85 days before the pandemic.

Overall, London has shifted from being the fastest-selling region to fifth position, behind Scotland, the East of England, South East and the East Midlands.

Around four in 10 (40%) million-pound sales now take place in London, compared with nearly half (47%) before the pandemic, Rightmove said.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “Prime sales growth has outperformed the wider market over the past year, as many people across Great Britain have chosen to take a step up the property ladder, potentially moving further out to afford a bigger property, or finally making the move to their forever home.

“Whilst London is still home to a significant portion of the prime market, some millionaire movers have turned their city commute into a rural route.

“These dynamics have helped push swathes of the UK’s property stock into the higher price brackets, and have led to a broader geographical spread of million-pound properties.”

Here are the average numbers of days to find a buyer for a million-pound property from April 2019 to March 2020, followed by the average number of days between July 2020 and June 2021, according to Rightmove:

– Scotland, 86, 61

– East of England, 86, 63

– South East, 89, 65

– East Midlands, 97, 66

– London, 85, 67

– South West, 91, 70

– West Midlands, 95, 73

– North East, 128, 79

– Yorkshire and the Humber, 94, 82

– North West, 108, 86

– Wales, 105, 93

And here are the fastest-moving local areas for million-pound properties outside London between July 2020 and June 2021, according to Rightmove, with the average number of days to find a buyer:

1. Thames Ditton, Surrey, South East, 26

2. Epsom, Surrey, South East, 33

3. Haywards Heath, West Sussex, South East, 37

4. Ashtead, Surrey, South East, 39

5. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, East of England, 40

=6. St Albans, Hertfordshire, East of England, 41

=6. Hertford, Hertfordshire, East of England, 41

=6. Chelmsford, Essex, East of England, 41

9. Hitchin, Hertfordshire, East of England, 42

10. Reigate, Surrey, South East, 43