Marketing Director for Chestertons, Giles Milner, lists his need-to-know advice for buying property in London:
1. Pay attention
London’s property stock is predominantly sold on a leasehold basis. Buyers should read the whole lease and pay close attention to special clauses, which could include restrictions on keeping pets or the type of flooring allowed..
The length of a property’s lease has an impact on the value of property, so buyers must factor this in to their offer. If you are buying a property with a short lease and intend to extend the lease, ask the seller to apply for the ‘Right to Extend’, otherwise you may have to wait years to do it yourself, by which time the cost of extension would have increased. Leases get more expensive to extend once under 80 years.
Shorter leases can put potential buyers off, including international buyers that are not used to the leasehold concept; this could present a good opportunity for buyers prepared to go through the extension process.
2. Be speedy
London’s market is one of the fastest moving property markets in the world, so it is important that buyers are prepared to act quickly once they find the right property. As prices are moving quickly upwards, your seller may want to ask for more money, or look for another buyer willing to pay more if the transaction takes too long.
3. Be prepared
At the point of making an offer, ensure that you present yourself in the best possible light to the seller: a letter from your solicitor confirming they are instructed, proof of funds for exchange and completion (bank statement for the full amount or an Agreement in Principle (AIP) from your bank confirming that you are approved for a mortgage) will definitely make a difference if you are bidding against other buyers. It’s about giving the agent and seller confidence that you are committed to the purchase and that you can perform.
Don’t rely on property websites such as Zoopla or Rightmove as it will often take hours for agents to upload their properties. If you want to be the first to know about a property, keep in regular and close contact with estate agents
5. Stay informed
Knowing about certain market developments and infrastructural changes across London may allow you to snap up a property in an up and coming area before local prices rise. Recent examples include Battersea Power Station, Crossrail and most famously – the 2012 Olympic Village, where, since 2005, property prices have increased by 45%.
Key pointers for up and coming areas:
• Additions of quality supermarkets, restaurants and shops to the local high-street e.g. the opening of a new Waitrose or Whole Foods market
• Announcements of major council investments to refurbish roads and other public areas
• Opening of new schools
• Celebrities moving or buying in the area