The number of people selling up and moving out of London rose by two-thirds in 2015, figures showed on Saturday, as homeowners cashed in on the capital’s high house prices or escaped to more affordable parts of the country.
More Londoners bought homes outside the capital than at any point since 2007, according to the property firm Hamptons International, purchasing 63,000 properties during the year.
Almost nine out of 10 bought elsewhere in the south of England, but the Midlands saw a 165% increase in the number of Londoners moving into the area.
Throughout 2014 house price growth in London outstripped that in other parts of the country, and although it has been less rapid this year, the gap between prices in the capital and outside is wider than ever.
Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International, said homeowners were taking advantage of this. “As the gap between prices in London and the south-east has grown, so has the temptation for Londoners to cash in on record house prices and move out of the capital,” he said.
“With expectations of future house price growth in London easing, many have chosen 2015 to make their move out of London.”
High costs in London where, according to the Office for National Statistics, the average price of a home is now above half a million pounds, have also forced first-time buyers and those looking for more space to move out. The Hamptons research, based on figures from the UK’s largest estate agency, Countrywide, which it owns, found that the number of people moving out to buy their first home was up by 70%, or 11,000, over 2014’s figure.
The most recent data from Nationwide building society on first-time buyer affordability shows that relative to earnings a home in London is at a record 9.6 times average pay.
Morris said: “Affordability in London is more constrained than ever, so many who want to buy their first home are considering less expensive areas in the commuter belt.”
He added: “We will see more Londoners leaving the capital in 2016, many prepared to move further afield in search of value for money.”
The search for affordable property within easy commuting distance of the capital has pushed up prices in areas around the south-east, and made areas such as East Anglia increasingly popular among buyers. Recently the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said East Anglia, the south-east and the east Midlands were leading the country in terms of price growth, and its forecast for 2016 suggests an 8% rise in East Anglia in 2016.
Hamptons research showed that those moving from London spent a total of £24bn on homes. The figure is still below the £32bn spent in 2007 when 100,000 people made the move from the city.
In 2015, Londoners spent an average of £375,000 on properties outside the capital, although this was skewed by the high number buying in the south where prices are also high. The 53,000 purchases in the south had an average price of £415,000, far above the overall UK average of £287,000; however, in the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, the average price paid ranged between £171,000 and £182,000.