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Paul Bennett, Director

It is being heralded as ‘the great escape in reverse’ as new figures seen by estate agent Behr & Butchoff suggest that 30% of tenants taking out new tenancies in London are moving into the capital from the Home Counties and beyond. 


The research showed that renters are returning to London not for work, as you may assume, but more commonly because they had sold their home, experienced a change in family circumstances or were relocating due to studies. 


Domestic relocation by renters isn’t the only trend that’s returning London to full capacity once again. New analysis of London property sales by debt advisory specialist, Henry Dannell, found international buyers have been increasingly active in the city after a spell of muted dormancy. 


The firm traced the downturn back to 2018, when buying levels among the global fraternity dropped by a modest -0.7%. It was in 2019, however, when international buyers really exited the market. The year featured new but punitive stamp duty levies for overseas purchasers and a Brexit process that moved towards its conclusion. This led to purchasing levels dropping -26%.


In 2020 Covid dented buying prospects again, with a -3.6% drop in activity recorded. To put this into perspective, the team at Henry Dannell say foreign buyer transactions in London totalled just 22,444 in 2020, compared to 31,693 in 2017.


Thankfully, the downward trajectory was halted in 2021, with international interest in the London market beginning to strengthen. Transactions rose by a modest +0.6% but it reverses a trend that has plagued the capital’s prime and super prime markets for more than three years.


While it is too early in 2022 to forecast the percentage increase of international property buyers active in the top end markets – such as St. John’s Wood and Marylebone – we have seen a healthy start. The Behr & Butchoff team has been pleased to reacquaint itself with overseas individuals during the first quarter of the year, as the focus returns to travel, the finer things in life and culturally-rich global locations. 


Our estate agents agree with the observations of Hanker Business Consultancy PTE Ltd, who are charting the return of Chinese buyers looking to secure apartments for their London-bound offspring.  In fact, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the number of London properties owned by China-based individuals between January 2020 and August 2021, had increased by +24.4%. 


That growth is set to soar, especially when you consider the UK is the world’s preferred location for Chinese university students, according to a 2022 survey of high-net-worth Chinese consumers by research company Hurun Report.


With domestic and international demand for properties in and around St. John’s Wood growing, the Behr & Butchoff  team is looking for new instructions. If you have a property to sell or let, contact us today.