With most of the world living with the virus, London is quick to revive its population with many coming and returning to the UK capital
The pandemic has changed much of how we once lived our lives. People who once lived in heavily packed metropolitan cities like New York, Paris and London are slowly emerging from their WFH lifestyles to resume their urban city life once again after having relocated to the suburbs or countryside during the thick of Covid-19.
Savills’ head of southwest London residential, Robin Chatwin, who recently finalised purchases with two families who have relocated out of the city and to the countryside during the pandemic have since returned—coincidentally to the same south London borough of Wandsworth.
This incidient isn’t a rare one, as many with certain occupations, such as banking or law, are requested to return to work in an office setting. The change in the way people work has a direct effect on their living preferences.
“There were a lot of people migrating out of London during the outset of Covid, no doubt about it,” Chatwin explains. “Now, as things return to normal, we’ve seen in the past several months or so people who moved out come back in and buy back into London because they’re now back in the office at least four, if not five, days a week and the commute is not what they wanted to be doing.”
The London market is heating up from both international and local buyers
While Mr. Chatwin has been busy with UK-based purchasers, his team are also hard at work with overseas clients who are wanting to return to London after months of travel restrictions.
“We have very, very significant demand from international customers coming from overseas as well as foreign purchasers who are already situated in London,” said Alex Christian, London director for Savills Private Office.
According to Rightmove, UK’s largest online real estate portal and property website, the average asking price for a house in the United Kingdom has now hit a record high of £354,564, as of March 2022. In London, asking prices have increased by 6.3% year on year to a whopping £664,400.
Following years of low prices, and despite possible headwinds such as increasing inflation and interest rates, the London market is rapidly heating up with both international and local interest.
As jobs return to normal, the property market follows suit
Mr. Chatwin believes the newfound interest in the capital is mostly due to employees returning to their workplaces. “As workplaces get busier, if you’re not there when everyone else is there, you’ll find it more difficult to advance in a firm.” Clients have been wanting to return to workplaces throughout southwest London in the past several months, he added, from Richmond to Barnes, Wimbledon to Putney.
“Not hundreds, but certainly more people searching,” he added, adding that market dynamics favored early adopters. “If they went out early enough, and the market moved with them…they might have afforded to come back into the London market,” he said.
Mr. Chatwin is not the only realtor who has seen a surge in the number of domestic buyers interested in the London market. Stuart Bailey, Knight Frank’s London prime sales head also comments, “We are seeing purchasers who have kind of gone to the country starting to make sure they have something in London”. He continues to explain, “They’ve been out of London for two years or more [but] are recognizing that working from home isn’t going to be a permanent solution”.