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UK sales of £1m-plus homes jump

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Sales of £1m-plus homes have surged since lockdown as affluent buyers look for more space and lifestyle change, with two-thirds more deals agreed in the past four months than in the same period last year.

An average of 868 £1m-plus sales have been agreed each week since the beginning of June, 66% higher than the weekly average of 522 over the same period in 2019, new data from Savills and TwentyCi show.

Despite the key spring market weeks being all but lost to the lockdown, when sales fell to just 69 in the week ending 19 April, a total of 23,000 sales were agreed in the first three quarters of 2020, 16% higher than in 2019.

Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research, who ran the analysis, says, “This points to a rebalancing of the market between London and the rest of the country. Whereas sales in London rose by 4% in the first nine months of the year, they are up 27% across the rest of the UK, albeit London still accounts for over four in 10 sales with a £1m-plus price tag.

The South East has seen the biggest surge in absolute numbers, with sales rising 28% to 6,560. The South West saw sales rise 38% to 2,022, while in Yorkshire and The Humber volumes were up 44% to 341 agreed sales, albeit absolute numbers of millionaire house sales remain much lower.

£1m+ agreed sales year to end Sept 2019 2020 Increase 2020 v 2019
London 9066 9403 4%
South East 5128 6560 28%
East of England 1997 2469 24%
South West 1466 2022 38%
West Midlands 416 560 35%
North West 480 538 12%
Yorkshire and The Humber 236 341 44%
East Midlands 269 341 27%
Scotland 177 152 -14%*
Wales 89 106 19%
North East 63 72 14%
Northern Ireland 21 22 5%
Total 19,408 22,586 16%

Source: Savills research using TwentyCi

(*The Scottish housing market reopened 4 weeks later, hence the lower figure)


“Lifestyle relocation has been a big theme in the market since lockdown began to ease, and this is very clearly reflected in the numbers,” says Cook.

“Relocation and staycation locations such as the Cotswolds (+94%), South Oxfordshire (+78%), Dorset (+69%), Cornwall (+66%) and Wiltshire (+66%) have been standout performers. And for London leavers looking for a less dramatic lifestyle shift, and a more accessible commute, uber-towns such as Tunbridge Wells (+58%), Guildford (+42%) and Winchester (+40%) have proved popular.”

In the UK capital, travel restrictions have limited overseas demand in the most central boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, the city of Westminster and Camden, where £1m-plus volumes were down 10% year on year, but leafier outer London boroughs benefitted from the search for more space both inside and out.

As a clear illustration of this, the mantle for the highest number of £1m-plus sales for a single local authority has passed to Wandsworth, where over 1,000 sales were agreed to primarily domestic buyers in the first nine months of the year, up 17% on 2019.

“By the year end we now expect the number of £1m-plus sales agreed to exceed 2019 volumes – a performance nobody could have anticipated in the depths of lockdown,” says Cook. “That said, recent evidence suggests fewer high value homes are now coming to the market, suggesting we may be hitting a high plateau.

“For many the challenge is now in getting deals through to completion by Christmas, after which point eyes will be on beating the March 31 stamp duty holiday deadline in order to benefit from the maximum £15,000 saving for those buying at this end of the market.”

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BDC 314 : Mar 2024