How North Northamptonshire became a £717m offshore real estate hotspot

The number of foreign investors has shot up by 1,000 per cent in a decade

By Kate Cronin
Monday, 7th March 2022, 7:58 am
Foreign investors have snapped-up an estimated £717m in property in North Northants during the past decade.
Foreign investors have snapped-up an estimated £717m in property in North Northants during the past decade.

North Northamptonshire has become a magnet for foreign property investors keen to snap up residential and commercial property in our part of the county.

As of August 2021, North Northants had 2,850 offshore-owned properties - a rise of nearly 1,000 per cent since 2010 when there were just 295 such properties.

The area has the 18th most foreign-registered properties out of 331 district and unitary authorities - higher than cities like Sheffield, Bradford, Nottingham and Bristol. North Northants even has more overseas owners than the City of London. Neighbouring West Northamptonshire has only 708 offshore-titled properties.

The rise in foreign property ownership in North Northamptonshire

The growth in foreign ownership was fairly static in our area until 2016, but since the Brexit vote in June of that year, it has mushroomed.

And with an average house price of £251,477, foreign investors could own a roughly-estimated £717m of real estate in our county.

East Asian investors have snapped-up the most properties. In 2012 just one Malaysian person owned a North Northants property - but that figure has now risen to an astonishing 1,465. There are also 603 properties registered to Singaporean addresses and 66 to addresses in Hong Kong. There are also 44 Japanese owners.

Channel Island owners have also bought-up property in our area, with people from Jersey owning 75 properties and Guernsey 55.

Image: Getty

There are 66 US-owners, 18 Russian-registered properties and a further 16 by investors the United Arab Emirates.

Many smaller countries also have owners registered there - including the British Virgin Isles with five - down from 110 in 2014, Samoa with five and Jordan with four. There is also property in our county registered in Saudi Arabai, Kuwait, Macao, the Australian Antarctic Territory, Benin and Panama.

Last year we told you how the Corby Northern Orbital Road - built with millions in public money - had fallen into foreign ownership.

It comes at a time when foreign ownership of properties is under the spotlight because of the number of Oligarch-owned properties across the country.

The Centre for Public Data, which is funded by organisations including the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, obtained the previously unpublished HM Land Registry data on properties across the UK that are owned by foreign individuals.

They found that 247,000 properties in England and Wales are registered to people with an overseas correspondence address - a number that's doubled in the past decade. There are a further 97,000 properties owned by overseas companies.

They are calling on the Government to expedite the Registration of Overseas Entities private members bill that was introduced by MP Layla Moran. It is due its second reading before the House of Commons on March 18.

The UK currently has zero restrictions on foreign ownership of residential real estate and despite a promise from the Conservative party five years ago to establish a public ownership register of overseas entities that own UK property, it still hasn't done so.

Ms Moran said: “The Conservatives have been sitting on this legislation for years, despite repeatedly promising to act. In that time millions of pounds worth of UK property has been bought using offshore firms, including it seems by major Conservative party donors.

“The government must introduce this long-delayed legislation as soon as Parliament returns. The longer they wait, the more this looks like a deliberate delay to help their wealthy donor friends.”

The data shows 247,016 titles across England & Wales are registered to people with an overseas correspondence address - nearly one per cent of all registered titles. This number is also now more than double the number registered to overseas companies (94,712 titles), suggesting individual purchasers are an increasingly important factor in the UK property market.

The rise in properties registered to individuals in the Middle East and South-East Asia have been particularly fast in recent years, which may reflect second home or investment purchases .

Malaysians who invest in the UK property market get a high rate of tax relief from their government. and a much higher return than if they invested in their domestic property market. Many super-rich Malaysians were educated in Britain's private schools and the two countries have similar business and legal customs. Malaysian - UK investment is thought to be worth £5bn per year.

Concerns have been raised by poverty campaigners that properties are being increasingly marketed to foreign cash-buyers, pricing out domestic buyers who are usually constrained by mortgages.

Last year the Government introduced a 2 per cent surcharge on stamp duty for non-tax-resident buyers of UK property , while Labour have also announced plans to limit overseas buyers from acquiring properties in new developments.

Estate agent Ricky-Lee Brennan, who has worked in the north of the county for eight years and now runs his own agency Brennan Bespoke, said that he has dealt with a number of overseas investors. He said: "We're just in such a good location here.

"The transport links are incredible. You can be in most major cities within a couple of hours.

"I think they're also attracted by the fact we're a really historic county with lots of country estates and Royal links.

"It's still such a great place to invest."