In the capital, 23 per cent of homes in the first five months of 2022 were sold without being widely marketed, up from 20 per cent in 2021. The new data by estate agent Hamptons found that nationally the figure rose to 1 in 10.
Traditionally, secret sales have been more common in the prime property market where buyers are more concerned about privacy and pricing but, according to Hamptons, this is changing.
The growth in off-market sales is now being driven by lower-priced properties, with the average discreetly marketed home in the UK selling for £858,000 compared to £1.2 million in the five years before the pandemic.
The agent said more buyers are willing to pay a premium to seal a deal before a property hits the market amid the ongoing stock shortage gripping the country. Many use buying agents, paying them an initial registration fee and then a percentage of the asking price on exchange.
It has also led to new ways to buy off-market, such as Invisible Homes, an online portal in south-west London that gives buyers access to off-market homes, and estate agents a pool of potential, motivated buyers.
So far this year, homes marketed discreetly have achieved a higher proportion of their asking price than their counterparts which were more widely marketed, according to the Hamptons research.
The average off-market home sold in 2022 achieved 99 per cent of its asking price, surpassing the 2014 record of 98 per cent which was set in a strong prime central London market.
The analysis also revealed the average home sold away from the glare of the open market took an average of 42 days to find a buyer, compared to 65 days for a similar home sold in the traditional way.
Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research at Hamptons, said: “Post-pandemic, selling off-market has increasingly been driven by sellers keen to avoid wider marketing and limiting the number of buyers through their doors. And this strategy has paid off. Buyers have been willing to pay a premium to secure their home off-market and prevent sellers from marketing the property openly to other interested parties where competition is rife.
“It is likely that we are reaching peak off-market sales levels. With the number of homes on the market forecast to rise later in the year, buyers are likely to be more cautious about paying a premium in the face of an increasing amount of choice. If this happens, off-market sales may retreat back into their prime heartlands.”