Overseas buyers snapping up UK homes

Cash-rich foreigners from Russia, the Middle and Far East have long been flocking to London to snap up luxury homes but they are not the only ones buying in good old Blighty. Looking across the country, who are the overseas buyers keen on a British address? Property website PrimeLocation.com has done a study on the top 100 nations from which British residential property is being searched for. English-speaking nations lead the field with the US, Australia, Canada and Ireland all in the top five.

US residents (including both British expats and American nationals) come top, representing over a fifth of the total number of searches conducted from outside the UK during 2011, while Australians account for almost one in ten searches, followed by Canadians (7%) and the Irish (5%).

The full list of the 100 nations searching for UK properties is available here.

The UK is an attractive location for international buyers from a business, education and property investment perspective, helping explain why 14% of all property searches on PrimeLocation.com within the UK originate overseas. And some of the searches come from less familiar nations. The PrimeLocation.com research also reveals destinations many British people may not have heard of including Reunion, Djibouti, Suriname, Kiribati, Mayotte and Niue.

Nigel Lewis, property analyst at PrimeLocation.com says: “London leads the charge here and in recent months many agents have reported up to 60% of buyers hailing from overseas, which has helped drive up demand and therefore prices in central London exponentially and by 7.37% over the past year¬ alone.”

“Many British expats are also likely to be keeping an eye on the UK property market with a view to one day returning to live in the UK. Purchases of UK residential properties by overseas buyers have been increasing over the last few years and we expect that this interest will remain undiminished going into 2012.”

UK property searches from outside of the UK by rank:

1. United States (% of all UK property searches from outside of the UK): 21%

2. Australia:  9%

3. Canada: 7%

4. France: 6%

5. Ireland: 5%

6. Spain: 5%

7. Germany: 3%

8. Italy: 3%

9. Netherlands: 3%

10: South Africa: 2%

Source: PrimeLocation.com data

Philip Green, Director of estate agent Goldschmidt & Howland agrees: “We deal with a large number of American clients looking for London property so it’s no surprise to me that they are high up on this list. “There is a strong demand for property surrounding International schools and The American School and it’s particularly buoyant in the rental sector.  This is equally the case for Australians. Most of the Prime homes being bought by non-Brits in London are Russians buying at the top end and Chinese looking for investment properties but they aren’t buying in large enough numbers – just very high prices instead.”