London property comes at a high price premium compared to the rest of the UK – especially in the most desirable areas such as Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea.
In prime Central London, the average house price in 2014 stands at £1.6 million – more than six times the average value in England and Wales. Across all areas of Greater London, the average property price is £533,000.
Despite the high prices, real estate in the UK capital has proven largely recession-proof. House prices in London defied the financial crisis to rise 6 percent between 2008 and 2013, while elsewhere in the country prices fell by 11 percent. In the most luxurious areas, prices rose even further – with houses in Kensington & Chelsea, for example, up 37 percent over the same period.
Property in London is as diverse as the capital itself. A five-bedroom property in Knightsbridge could set you back a staggering £65 million ($106m) – while studio apartments on the outskirts of the capital can be snapped up for a more modest £100,000 ($163,000).
Buying a house is a complex process anywhere in the world. Follow ShufiLondon.com's guide below if you decide to pursue a house-purchase in London – and ensure you seek legal advice early on:
1. Find a property! Check ShufiLondon.com's property listings page here.
2. Contact the selling agent to arrange a viewing.
3. Hire a solicitor. If you decide to proceed, you will need legal advice from early on in a property transaction. Foreign nationals should immediately check the legal, residency and tax implications of buying property in London. In all cases, buying a property in London requires a solicitor for both parties; the buyer and the seller. Check out ShufiLondon.com's Legal Services page here.
4. Check your finance. If you need a mortgage and are not normally resident in the UK, bear in mind that financing options are extremely limited. Nevertheless, a few UK lenders and even some regional ones with international presence would consider providing you with a mortgage given that you open a local account in the UK. Also, pay attention to the other costs associated with the purchase of the property in addition to the price tag, such as the stamp duty. If you are buying your home outright with funds from abroad, consider using a more competitive money-transfer service. Find out more on the ShufiLondon.com Finance page.
5. Make an offer. This is usually done through the selling agent.
6. If your offer is accepted, have a survey and valuation done. This is always advisable, and usually a prerequisite when buying a property with a mortgage.
7. Finalize legal work. If your offer is accepted, your solicitor will advise you on how to move towards ‘Exchange of Contracts’, when both parties commit to the sale of a property and agree to the terms. A deposit is usually paid at this time.
8. Arrange life insurance. Protecting your investment in the case of your death is a necessity if you are buying a property with finance.
9. Completion. This is the date when you legally become the owner of a property.
10. Move in.
11. If you are using the property as a vacation home, few companies can run periodical inspections to make sure your home is taken care of while you are away.