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International buyers and tenants are keen to live in the UK

Global travel is on the mend as the UK has opened its doors to international countries that meet the government’s criteria. New research from the estate agency, residential and commercial property consultancy Knight Frank indicates that international appeal for UK properties is on the rise.

According to the recent study, the number of international buyers and tenants searching for UK property has reached its highest level since before the pandemic.

The study shows that overseas buyers and tenants are keen to join the UK housing market.


International buyers are drawn to UK homes

The research was conducted by analysing the web traffic of international web users looking at the properties on the Knight Frank website.

The findings conclude that in August 2021, nearly a quarter (24%) of all web users browsing sales and lettings properties were located abroad. This is the highest figure since January 2020. In the 18 months before June 2021, the average figure was 17%.

The number of international web users looking at lettings properties in August surpassed the number of UK web users searching for lettings properties for the first time since the start of 2020.

Although this is promising, Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank observes: “It’s more web traffic than air traffic at the moment but international demand is undoubtedly building.” 

The international buyer landscape is constantly changing. For example, in 2020 French nationals were the predominant group of buyers in central London. Currently, in Aldgate and the Southbank, the number of overseas potential tenants are the highest.

Gary Hall, head of lettings at Knight Frank, adds: “In some London branches, we have in excess of 80% of rental applicants searching for properties who are not based in the UK.” 

The reason for high international demand

Overall, the figures from Knight Frank show that international demand in UK properties is picking up the pace. The status of the Covid-19 pandemic and the time of year are two main factors.

The UK government’s traffic light system is used to determine whether certain countries are Covid-safe to travel. This list is constantly changing and because of possible quarantine on arrival or return, the exact timing of the return is never certain.

Heathrow is the seventh busiest airport in the world based on passenger traffic. In July 2021 the number of arrivals at the airport was the highest since the start of the pandemic. However, in comparison to before the pandemic, this was more than 80% below the figure for the same month in 2019.

For university students, September marks the start of a new academic year. Ahead of this, overseas students have arrived in the UK, meaning the increase in international appeal could be because of the time of year.

James Cleland, head of Knight Frank’s country business, concludes: “We are getting more enquiries from overseas buyers who are keener to come over.” 

“As the feeling grows that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, normal service will resume in the UK property market and I expect overseas buyers and tenants to make their presence felt in the final quarter of this year.”


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