Monday 2 August 2021 6:00 am

Countryside creep: London homeowners flee capital at record rate

London homeowners are fleeing the capital at record levels as city slickers pursue newfound housing needs triggered by the Covid crisis, according to new figures released today.

Research by estate agent Hamptons shows 61,830 Londoners purchased homes outside the capital in the first six months of this year, the highest number since they started recording the figures in 2006.

Read more: House prices to surge another £50,000 over next five years

The pandemic has engineered mass take up of remote working practices among large swathes of the economy, weakening the need for workers to live close to offices.

Covid-induced lockdowns have also driven a trend toward favouring larger houses with access to green space to enable people to improve their wellbeing.

As a result, Londoners may have been more receptive to selling typically smaller properties and using the proceeds to buy bigger homes, which are in greater supply on the outskirts of the capital.

According to the Office for National Statistics, London’s average house prices remain the most expensive of any region in the UK at an average of £498,000 in May 2021.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “Pandemic-fuelled city outmigration shows no signs of slowing.”

“Despite lockdowns easing and offices and restaurants reopening, Londoners have continued to re-evaluate where they want to live, with many bringing future-planned moves forward.”

Londoners made up 8.6 per cent of buyers outside the capital, up from 6.6 per cent last year.

Read more: Property transactions surge to record high in June

Tandrige in Surrey hosted the highest proportion of buyers from the capital at 67 per cent, with Londoners paying an average of £468,940 for a home in the area.

The research shows London buyers are creeping further into the countryside, suggesting workers are betting they will not need to commute into offices regularly.

The average Londoner who bought outside the capital purchased 34.6 miles away, the longest distance since our records began and 12% or 3.6 miles further than pre-pandemic in 2019, Hamptons said.

FTBs locked out of London market

A lack of affordability in the London housing market caused first time buyers to look elsewhere to secure their first home.

Hamptons’ research shows FTBs made up a quarter of Londoners buying outside the capital, the highest proportion since their records began.

“Much of the uplift in Londoners looking outside the M25 over the last year has come from those buying their first home,” Beveridge said.

“This has been largely driven by affordability and flexible working patterns that have enabled people to work from home. The capital’s loss has been the Home Counties gain.”

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