Rich buyers from Asia and tax havens raid UK homes. Foreign ownership triples over a decade, to 250,000 in the face of fears that overseas investors will price out UK residents

  • From 88,000 foreign homeowners of flats and homes in 2010, to almost 250,000 by 2010, the number has nearly doubled.
  • Fears that the Centre for Public Data is pricing out local residents are raised by an analysis.
  • It comes at a rotten time for the housing market as prices swelled to £264,000

New figures reveal that overseas buyers have flooded the English and Welsh property markets, which has tripled over a decade.

Researchers found that foreign owners of flats and houses, most of them based in Asia or registered tax havens, increased from nearly 88,000 in 2010 up to almost 250,000 this past year.

The analysis by the Centre for Public Data raises fears locals are being priced out of their own area by wealthy people from abroad.

And it comes at a rotten time for the housing market as prices swelled from an average of £167,500 at the start of 2010 to £264,000 in August.

Foreign owners, many based in registered tax havens or Asia, of houses and flats surged from 88,000 in 2010 to nearly 250,000 this year, researchers found (file photo)

Research shows that the number of foreign-owned flats and homes increased by nearly 250,000 from just 88,000 in 2010. This was despite many being located in Asia, or in tax havens.

A staggering 247,000 homes in England and Wales are owned by people based overseas, the Centre for Public Data found, which is one per cent of all properties.

According to Freedom of Information requests made to HM Land Registry, the figure rose from 88,000 in 2010 to over 80,000 today.

The research shows that three-quarters (75%) of all foreign buyers can trace their roots back to only twenty countries.

Investors in Hong Kong bought almost 25,000 houses – this is the most highly ranked source for buyers. This was up from just 2,170 properties in 2010.

Meanwhile Singapore and Malaysian buyers were also found to be heavily invested in the UK property market.

Tax havens Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands were also featured on the list, with close to 50,000 owners living in these areas.

Anna Powell-Smith is the Centre for Public Data Director. She stated that there are many long-standing worries about how the UK property market can be used as a means of tax avoidance or corruption. It is concerning that so many of these titles have been registered in tax havens.

“There are concerns regarding the affordability of housing. Second homes are often bought as assets.

“We require more information about the housing demand for a better understanding of what drives our dysfunctional housing market.

“The government should first bring forward the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill to increase transparency of property.

Westminster is the area where there are most foreign owners. Nearly one-tenth of all properties in this city are owned by people based overseas.

Interest has also increased in areas that are less fortunate, such as Tower Hamlets or Mewham.

A number of foreign buyers have also targeted other larger cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield in the wake of major developments over the past decade.

Merseyside has seen an incredible 8,000 home purchase from overseas, marking fourfold growth since 2010.

It is difficult to track overseas property ownership. There are very few official records available.

It is important to note that the interest in the UK market has grown beyond the point of tracking foreign buyers who have moved into it in England and Wales.

The Centre for Public Data told the government it should bring in a register to list these buyers.

This was a promise made by ministers in 2018, but the legislation to enforce it has yet to be implemented.