East Asian homebuyers cashed in on London new build price decline and a weaker pound

Research by the new build snagging and defect management experts, BuildScan (Buildscan.co), has revealed how foreign buyers from some East Asian nations have cashed in across London’s new build market due to a pandemic decline in property prices, coupled with a weaker pound..

BuildScan analysed new build property prices across London and found that throughout 2020, Covid caused them to slump by -3.4%, falling to £488,371 in December compared to £505,331 in January of the same year. However, BuildScan’s research has also revealed that fluctuating exchange rates during the pandemic added to the appeal of the London property market for many East Asian homebuyers.

Based on the average London new build price in December, South Korean homebuyers would have paid KRW 718,279,546, a -6.8% drop when compared to the average price paid at the start of the year. Chinese buyers also saw a considerably higher discount when taking exchange rates into account. London new build homes fell by -6.2% over the course of the year, finishing 2020 at an average price of ¥4,293,807. Japanese buyers also saw a discount in excess of five per cent (-5.6%), paying an average of ¥68,104,814 in December compared to ¥72,175,963 in January.

But the change in exchange rates didn’t benefit every East Asian nation. During 2020, the pound strengthened when compared to the sing dollar, meaning that while a London new build was still more, this discount sat at just -2%. Homebuyers from Thailand (-1.8%), Malaysia (-1.2%) and Hong Kong (-0.9%) also secured a smaller discount, while those from Indonesia were actually paying 2.2% more despite a drop in new build property values.

Founder and Managing Director of BuildScan, Harry Yates, commented:

“Despite the problems posed by the pandemic, we’ve continued to see a high degree of interest in the London market from East Asia. This has been driven, in part, by factors such as BNO visa availability for those relocating from Hong Kong, as well as the opportunity to cash in on a stamp duty saving. In addition to these draws, we’ve also seen fluctuating exchange rates boost the affordability of London new build homes which has also caused many savvy investors to act sooner rather than later. Although the pound has rallied of late, the London market remains an area of focus for many foreign buyers and with market momentum returning at a slower rate than elsewhere around the UK, now remains a good time to invest.”

Table shows the average new build house price at the beginning and end of 2020 and the cost in each nation based on exchange rates at that time
LocationCurrencyAverage new build house price – Jan 2020Ave exchange rate – Jan 2020New build house price in currency – Jan 2020Average new build house price – Dec 2020Ave exchange rate – Dec 2020New build house price in currency – Dec 2020Change %
South KoreaWon (KRW)£505,3311524.54KRW 770,397,762£488,3711470.7659KRW 718,279,546-6.8%
ChinaYuan (CNY)£505,3319.0542¥4,575,371£488,3718.7921¥4,293,807-6.2%
JapanYen (JPY)£505,331142.829¥72,175,963£488,371139.453¥68,104,814-5.6%
SingaporeSing dollar (SGD)£505,3311.7663$892,567£488,3711.7905$874,428-2.0%
ThailandBaht (THB)£505,33139.775฿20,099,552£488,37140.415฿19,737,518-1.8%
MalaysiaRinggit (MYR)£505,3315.3324RM2,694,629£488,3715.4524RM2,662,795-1.2%
Hong KongHK dollar (HKD)£505,33110.1641HK$5,136,238£488,37110.42HK$5,088,827-0.9%
IndonesiaRupiah (IDR)£505,33117937.5055Rp9,064,382,765£488,37118969.3349Rp9,264,074,7672.2%
LondonPounds (GBP)£505,331N/A£505,331£488,371N/A£488,371-3.4%
London new build house prices sourced from the UK House Price Index
Historic exchange rates in relation to house price data points sourced from exchangerates.org.uk

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