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Middle East Buyers Invest in the Shires

12.02.20

British and European buyers are still behind the bulk of £5m+ country house deals in the UK, but Knight Frank has noticed a “surge” of Middle Eastern money making a move on the Shires.

Three times the number of prime country house deals went to Middle Eastern buyers in 2019 compared to the previous year, reports the agency – making the Middle East the third largest source of international demand in the £5m+ arena last year, after Brits and Europeans. The prevalence of UK buyers dropped a bit last year (the proportion, not necessarily transaction  numbers), but domestics were still behind nearly six in ten £5m+ country house deals.

Rupert Sweeting, Head of National Country Sales at Knight Frank: “While heightened economic and political uncertainty in the Middle East can be attributed, in part, to their increased appetite in the country market, the attraction of private education options is also particularly significant. Areas in close proximity to London, such as North Surrey, have been extremely popular with Middle Eastern buyers. The many respectable international schools, combined with easy access into London, makes the Surrey area particularly attractive to buyers from the Middle East looking to settle in the UK.

“Although the dip in UK buyers can be explained by the concerns over the general election and Brexit that clouded 2019, international purchasers still consider the UK as politically stable and are confident in the country’s long term growth prospects – despite stamp duty taxes.

“European buyers have been taking advantage of the weak pound against the Euro, explaining their position as the second largest source of international demand in the country market. We would have expected more Americans to be buying for the same reason, but surprisingly they have been outbid throughout 2019.

“Going forward, we expect UK buyers to surge up the rankings in 2020, reflecting a return of confidence and certainty that the last general election has created.”

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