High end agency Hamptons has quantified the trend of Londoners quitting the capital in the light of the pandemic.
It says that in 2020 London leavers purchased 73,950 homes outside the capital, the highest number in four years, despite the seven-week spring closure of the housing market.
Collectively, Londoners bought £27.6 billion worth of property outside the capital this year, the highest amount since 2007 when London outmigration peaked.
This figure exceeds the total value of all homes sold in the North West last year.
But there has been a clear increase in the popularity of London outward migration since the onset of Covid-19.
In the first half of 2020, London leavers bought 6.9 per cent of homes sold outside the capital, equating to 24,480 sales.
However, in the second half of 2020, this figure rose to 7.8% and twice as many sales (49,470). In H2 2020 alone, Londoners purchased £18.4bn worth of property outside the capital, more than in any full year between 2008 and 2013.
Since the housing market re-opened in May, Londoners leaving the capital have travelled further than ever before.
The average distance moved by a Londoner buying outside the capital hit 40 miles for the first time in over a decade, up from just 28 miles during the first three months of the year.
This means the average person leaving London from May onwards travels as far as Cambridge to the north, Colchester to the east, Brighton to the south or Didcot to the west.
First-time buyers tend to retain more of their ties to the capital, moving shorter distances than anyone else. Since May, the average first-time buyer leaving the capital bought 26 miles away.
Conversely someone selling a home in London tends to sever their ties more deeply by moving much further. The average person selling their London home to buy outside the capital travels 41 miles, which is 57 per cent further than a first-time buyer.
These numbers are reflected in the sorts of homes leavers buy, with someone buying a two- bed property moving an average of 34 miles, while someone buying a four-bed travels 43 miles.
Sevenoaks recorded the biggest increase in the share of homes bought by Londoners. This year, 62 per cent of homes in the area were bought from a Londoner, 39 per cent higher than in 2019.
“While leaving London has been a rite of passage for many, often families reaching life stage milestones, the effects of lockdown and the desire for space seems to have heightened this drift” explains Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research at Hamptons.
“The prospect of homeworking more regularly has also meant that London leavers are moving further than ever before. The average London leaver moved 10 miles further than in 2019 as buyers’ favour space over commutability.
“We expect this outmigration trend to continue into the first half of next year too. But usually as prices in the capital begin to flatline, which we forecast to happen in the second half of 2021, more Londoners decide stay put. Even so, given the housing market has been anything but normal since the onset of Covid, we expect to see the total number of homes bought by London leavers next year hit 2016 levels.”