The super-rich bought more houses in London than in any other city in the world last year, new figures from realtor Knight Frank show, buyers drawn by the weakness of the pound and the end of the saga of Brexit in the United Kingdom.
Buyers around the world have spent nearly $ 4 billion on so-called top-notch properties in the UK capital, which are categorized as anything costing $ 10 million or more.
That’s more than the total spent on prime homes in any other city last year, with London ahead of Hong Kong and New York, according to Knight Frank.
Despite travel restrictions and the fact that the UK housing market was effectively stuck between March and May 2020, the number of sales over $ 10 million in London last year was up from 2019 , Russian, French and Chinese buyers being particularly active.
The influx of money from overseas came as many Londoners turned to the suburbs and countryside in search of more space in the age of working from home.
“The story of last year was that people were move out of cities. But quietly, big buys have taken place, ”said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank.
A total of 201 prime properties sold for an average price of $ 18.6 million. In 31 of those transactions, buyers paid $ 25 million or more.
One of the biggest sales of the year was the purchase of a £ 42m Belgravia mansion by British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, revealed last month by the Financial Times.
Buyers of homes over $ 10 million in London and elsewhere are a small and international group, motivated and constrained by factors entirely different from those that move the traditional housing market.
Where they choose to buy signals as much about the relative attractiveness of a city’s tax regime or its security as a place of wealth storage, as about livability.
Despite the pandemic, the $ 19 billion spent on prime properties in a dozen cities monitored by Knight Frank last year was only 5% less than the 2019 total.
London’s attractiveness has been bolstered by the conclusion of Brexit negotiations and the fact that average prices for the most expensive postcodes have fallen by around 20% from the 2015 high, Bailey said.
Another important factor that boosted sales was the low price of the pound against the dollar and the euro, he added.
Blue-chip sales in New York City fell 48% last year, as wealthy shoppers turned to sunnier coastal cities in the United States, such as Palm Beach, Los Angeles and Miami.
Trade in Hong Kong, which recorded the highest number of sales of more than $ 10 million in 2018 and 2019, fell 27%, hit by political uncertainty and strict measures against coronaviruses, Bailey said. .
“There is always a cachet in a London residence, even if you’re not there for months at a time. If you are very rich you will have a plane, a helicopter, a superyacht and your place in London, ”said Nathalie Hirst, a London-based buying agency whose clients seek homes on a budget of up to $ 100. million pounds sterling.
“I had clients predicting disaster and gloom, Armageddon, but the real estate market continued,” she said.