Almost half of sales in H1 2021 were to non-British buyers – a significant departure from the norm. In most years, they make up closer to 70%. European buyers were more prominent than they had been since 2018, with the French, once again, figuring strongly and there was a larger presence of Middle Eastern buyers than in any year since we began recording buyer nationality in 2015.
This was the first half year period since the UK finally left the EU and, while the pandemic ensured that it was far from a being a typical year, the continuing presence of European buyers is reassuring, particularly when it is possible to work remotely and given the imposition of the additional stamp duty on overseas investors in April of this year.
The pied a terre buyer returned in H1 2021, after disappearing from the market in 2020. We predicted a resurgence of this buyer type because so many people relocated their homes to more rural or coastal locations during the pandemic. First time buyers continued to be a strong presence, making up a quarter of all purchases this year. The prolonged period without holidays or social/cultural activities has enabled people to accumulate capital for deposits. We note elsewhere in this report that first time buyers were presenting at younger ages too.
The dominant buyer group in our markets was people aged 30-40 years old. They made up 53% of buyers, compared to an average of 38% over the period 2015-2021. The under 30s remained consistent at just under 20% of buyers, while the older age group 41-60, declined from an average of 37% to just 25% in H1 2021. This is consistent with a reduction in the age of the first time buyer who is now closer to 30 than 40. It also reflects the shift of families from city to rural and coastal locations. This is the age group we expect to return to invest in a pied a terre.
Cash buyers accounted for around one third of all purchases in H1 2021, in line with the long term average. This is a consistent level in our markets.