Londoners will get ‘first dibs’ on new-build homes up to £350,000

Housebuilders are to give Londoners and UK-based buyers “first dibs” on lower-priced new-build properties, it was announced today.

People who live or work in the capital will get a month’s “head start” to buy homes up to £350,000 before anybody else is able to purchase them.

Buyers across the rest of the UK will then get a further two months to buy before any overseas marketing is allowed to take place.

About 30 per cent — or 6,000 a year — of all new builds in London are in the £350,000 or below category, meaning thousands more homes could be available for domestic buyers. Research last year found that half of new properties bought by overseas buyers cost less than £500,000 — pushing many first-time buyers out of the market.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “The protocol will ensure UK-based buyers are at the front of the queue and are first to get the opportunity to find and buy new homes being built.”

Almost all members of the Home Builders Federation and the g15, which represents the capital’s largest housing associations, signed up. Berkeley Homes, London’s biggest housebuilder, is also on board, along with Taylor Wimpey, Barratt London and Lendlease.

The move, announced today by

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Sadiq Khan, comes amid concern about the number of lower-cost new-build homes being snapped up by foreign investors. The Mayor said: “I was alarmed to discover that overseas buyers were focusing to such an extent on the lower-cost end of new-build homes — many of which were being sold long before Londoners even knew they were available. The industry offer is an important breakthrough. I will now work with them to put it into practice.” 

He originally promised in his manifesto that all part-rent, part-buy homes bought on mayoral land would be sold to Londoners who had been renting in the capital for at least five years, but this was thought likely to be just 10,000 homes initially.

The scheme, expected to be running later this year, means that no overseas sales or marketing can take place during the first three months a property is on sale. City Hall claimed it was the first time that property sales have been restricted in this way.

A previous scheme under Boris Johnson suggested that homes should be sold domestically “either first or at the same time” as overseas.

Tory London Assembly member Andrew Boff said: “The £350,000 benchmark is very low for London. This may well encourage developers to sell more homes above £350,000 to avoid meeting this requirement, therefore pushing up the price of new homes even higher. First dibs is looking like one of his worst fibs”.

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