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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

The Cash Conundrum: London’s Property Market Dominated by Overseas Buyers

The Cash Conundrum: London’s Property Market Dominated by Overseas Buyers


In a concerning trend for working Londoners, a recent report by estate agents Savills reveals that a staggering 70% of properties sold in central London this year were purchased with cash. This dominance of cash buyers, particularly wealthy overseas investors, is raising fears that local residents are being edged out of the housing market. As interest rates soar and mortgage affordability becomes a challenge, the disparity between cash-rich buyers and others is becoming increasingly apparent. In this blog post, we delve into the implications of this trend and its impact on London’s property landscape.

Cash Buying Frenzy:

Savills’ report highlights that prime central London properties, encompassing desirable areas such as Chelsea, Camden, Notting Hill, and Westminster, have experienced an overwhelming influx of cash purchases. This is in stark contrast to the national average, where only approximately 35% of properties are acquired without the need for a mortgage. The appeal of central London, coupled with global economic uncertainties, has drawn cash-rich buyers to invest in the city’s lucrative property market.

Interest Rates and Mortgage Challenges:

The Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates to a 13-year high of 5% has triggered a chain reaction in the housing market. Mortgage rates have followed suit, rendering large home loans increasingly unaffordable for many aspiring homeowners. This surge in mortgage costs places a significant burden on working Londoners, forcing them to reassess their property aspirations. The subsequent rise in price sensitivity and tightening of buyer budgets might potentially lead to a cooling effect on the property market in the outer prime locations, where mortgage-dependent buyers are more prevalent.

Resilient Prime Market:

Despite the concerns surrounding interest rates, Savills’ report indicates that London’s prime residential market remains surprisingly resilient. While overall UK house prices have experienced a 3.5% decline compared to the previous year, London’s prime markets have only seen a marginal 1% decrease. This resilience is attributed to the growing divergence between cash and equity-rich buyers and other groups, as well as variations between different market segments.

Diverging Market Segments:

Within London’s prime market, varying price segments are experiencing contrasting performance. Properties in the £5 million-plus range have remained relatively stable, with a marginal decline of just 0.1%. However, the market for properties valued between £500,000 and £1 million has witnessed a more pronounced decline of 2.1%. The lowest price segment, encompassing properties under £500,000, has experienced the greatest downturn, with prices falling by 2.5%. These diverging trends underscore the evolving dynamics within the London property market.

Overseas Demand and Popular Areas:

Overseas buyers, particularly those seeking pied-a-terres, have displayed a strong interest in prestigious London areas such as Mayfair, Westminster, and Marylebone. The return of international travel, particularly from Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, has fuelled demand from discerning buyers at the upper echelons of the market. Despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit in recent years, the number of properties sold for £10 million or more in the 2022-23 financial year reached its highest level since 2016.


As London’s property market continues to be influenced by cash buyers, concerns about the impact on working Londoners and local communities persist. The dominance of wealthy overseas investors, coupled with rising interest rates and mortgage challenges, poses significant barriers for those aspiring to enter the housing market. While the prime market remains resilient overall, with varying performance across price segments, the broader implications of this trend on affordability and accessibility cannot be overlooked. It is crucial for policymakers and stakeholders to address these concerns and ensure a balanced and inclusive property market that serves the needs of both local residents and investors.

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