Buying off-plan: six-year high in sales of unbuilt homes in London hotspots Hackney and Southwark

New research shows that off-plan sales have fallen steadily since 2016. This is close to the 2016 peak of 39%, or 69,000 homes sold off-plan. The number of homes sold off-plan has been declining steadily since then, hitting a low of 33% in 2020. This shift also means that owner-occupiers are now driving the market, which was traditionally dominated by investors. It remains to be seen if this short-term shift will become a longer-term trend. But, unlike the past, it is likely that off-plan sales will continue to be driven by owners-occupiers and not investors. London had two boroughs that were among the top ten for off-plan sales in England or Wales. Southwark saw 67% of homes sold off-plan last year, while Hackney saw 66%. Hackney was another hotspot for development, with 65 percent of homes sold off-plan. But the Cotswolds has the lowest stock levels in Britain. A staggering 86% of all new homes built last year were sold before completion. Gravesham, East Hertfordshire, and Monmouthshire are all in the top 10. The rise in off-plan sales is due to more houses being sold before they are built. According to Fell, the shift from flats to homes is a result of homeowners’ preferences. These buyers are more likely to wait for the property to build than investors and won’t buy as early as they would like. He said that buyers are more likely to look for bespoke, individual-designed houses in smaller areas than they are for flats in large city centres. This allows them to make an income stream and then use the money to finance ongoing work. Buyers often get better deals if they purchase new-build homes before construction begins.