The myth of the international property buyer

Many agents use the ‘international buyers’ draw card in their salespitch to would-be clients, but what is an international property purchaser and how much of the Prime Central London (PCL) market do they really make up?

Since this time last year, many PCL properties have been reduced in price – some quite considerably.  This actual reduction, combined with financial market fluctuations and particularly the weak pound against the Euro or USDollar means that international buyers are very attractive to those trying to sell a property in London. And they are keen to cut a deal.

Who are these “international buyers” really?

The reality is that most of the aforementioned are not actually the highly perceived sought-after buyers from overseas – and often elusive ‘fly in, buy, fly out’ type, but simply UK residents of different nationalities, who are really no different from any other UK-based buyer.  The fact is that they are already here and in a lot of cases actually make up the vast majority of residents in some PCL areas.

These buyers can account for the majority of the so-called international market and tend to purchase within a square mile of where they already reside.

The true “international” buyer (the non-UK resident who literally flies in to view, buys a property and then returns from where they came from on the next plane) accounts for a very small sector of the market.

The higher up the ladder you get, as you might suspect, this increases, particularly for properties over £10m.  But it’s still a small market segment and these buyers are typically represented by property specialists in the UK; either a UK-based retained agent, wealth manager, bank or a solicitor.

The genuine overseas buyers are often the people that keep the very top end of the market afloat, particularly when times are hard within the domestic market and UK-based buyers are falling to the whey side or playing cautious. Favourable currency plays into their hand.

Selling agents are wise to keep close to these property specialists and representatives in order to capture the real opportunities from overseas. Most don’t come from an international network of estate agent offices as many might suggest.

When considering who to appoint to sell your property, it’s prudent to question exactly who they know and plan to refer to in order to precision market and attract the right kind of buyers to help you secure that perfect sale.

It’s not a numbers game anymore and the best agents know how to put a deal together by carefully approaching their key contacts to match the right buyer to their client’s property, whether UK-based or not.

So when you hear about the international buyer registering in volumes,  consider this may actually be agency rhetoric and a bit of a myth. Many ‘international’ buyers are already here in the UK and well ensconced anglophiles!