Remote homebuying is nothing new in London

International buyers have been buying homes sight-unseen for years

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

The coronavirus pandemic will likely spur a long-term shift toward remote working, but could it also popularize remote homebuying?

If so, London agents are well-prepared, according to the Wall Street Journal. Remote buying has been a practice in the U.K. capital for years — around 3,600 of the 28,000 new homes built in London between 2014 and 2016 were sold to overseas buyers.

In years past, overseas buyers often flew in to see a property before closing, but some buyers pulled the trigger sight-unseen even before a pandemic effectively halted international travel. Agents are also used to recording videos of properties for overseas clients.

Thea Carroll, the founder of an eponymous brokerage in London, said that the U.K.’s late March lockdown didn’t deter her Middle Eastern clients from moving ahead with a $7.4 million buy in Knightsbridge.

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They’ve only seen the property through a few videos, but the property fit the specific criteria they were after.

“They know their options are really limited, and they are market-educated enough to know the location is right and the price is good,” she said.

Nick Vaughan of Savills said that international, particularly those living in China, Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia are used to buying new construction condos through sales exhibitions. Brokerages will hold these exhibitions abroad and sell units with renderings and floor plans.

“Buyers are very, very used to going to exhibitions and seeing a model of the building and buying on that basis, and the U.K. is seen as a very safe haven,” he said. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch