US families driving up lettings market, it is claimed

Large detached properties in Surrey seen to be popular with American expats

Americans are driving the lettings market in parts of the UK with US professionals and their families making up almost half of rentals in popular areas near London.

For example, in north Surrey 45% of all tenants in rented properties in 2011 were from the United States, according to data from agent Barton Wyatt.

Based in Virginia Water, the agency also revealed that despite the majority of rental stock in 2011 being privately let, almost 20% was let to companies and their employees.

‘In line with the recent findings from PrimeLocation which revealed that the location from which the highest volume of searches for British property to buy was the US at 21%, we too have seen a resurgence in US nationals renting in the north Surrey area, accounting for nearly half of all lets in 2011,’ said partner James Wyatt.

‘During the recession we saw a decrease in the volume of corporate lets particularly with many international companies downsizing operations or relocating, many back to the US. In 2011 however we saw this trend reverse with US professionals and their families once again returning to the area for employment which in turn has boosted the corporate lettings market,’ he explained.

Of Barton Wyatt’s corporate tenants, the most popular sectors of employment in 2011 were energy at 19%, finance at 15% and telecoms and pharmaceuticals each accounting for 10%.

‘Some of our biggest corporate letting clients include oil and gas giants BP and Shell as well as the 10th largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Eli Lilly and American corporation, Dow Chemicals,’ said lettings manager Joanne Parris.

Indeed this leafy corner of Surrey, in and around Virginia Water, only 42 minutes by direct train to Central London, seems to be the preferred destination not only for major US conglomerates to house their UK operations but also for employees to reside.

A number of American expat groups and communities exist in Surrey such as the American Women of Berkshire and Surrey and the presence of not only TASIS in Thorpe but the ACS International Schools in Egham and Cobham is highly appealing to families.

These flavours of home combined with the large, often American style open plan properties on offer in the area make it an obvious choice, according to Wyatt.

‘Over the years we have seen a greater demand from our US tenants for larger detached homes with properties in the area now averaging a substantial 5,000 to 6,000 square feet. Four and five bedroom properties are frequently the most popular with smaller one and two bedroom apartments barely rented by this market,’ he explained.

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