If you’re moving to London and looking into renting a London apartment, my previous posts have addressed the state of today’s London property market (see “Renting London Apartments: The Current DL on LDN” Part 1 and Part 2). As promised, in this post I’ll address how you can best keep your head above water as you paddle through this super-competitive rental whirlpool of low supply, high demand, and gazumping.
Renting Your London Apartment
This is not a sales pitch; it is a reality. If you’re new to London and unfamiliar with its environment, you as an expat will have the best chance of uncovering a larger supply of properties at your price-point if you enlist the assistance of a London relocation agent. Such service providers will educate you on the local real estate dynamic and exploit their vast lettings agency contacts to exhaust the market in compiling available properties on any given day. And as I’ll explain below, timing is of the essence, so having a relocation guide on your side will help you still be able to make a sound, informed decision in a short amount of time.
Regardless if you enlist a third party to help or strike out on your own, you’re going to want to act fast. You’ll think you’re being schmoozed when an agent encourages you to make a snap decision soon after your initial viewing, and, believe me, I’m the first to want to call these shysters out on giving the hard sell. But even I now understand that, in London, it’s warranted—let’s not kid ourselves that if we hold out to make a second viewing (and then take our sweet time after that to mull it over) that the property of interest will still be there. Remember from my first post: supply is low, demand is high. If you don’t bid on a property, someone else will.
And if you do bid on a property, someone else still will, so be the first to put your money where your mouth is, literally. The best way to avoid getting gazumped is to be ready to pay your holding deposit right away (though there’s no set industry standard, this typically equates to six-weeks’ rent. If you’re a student or otherwise perceived as a financial risk, this deposit may be upped to three-to-six months’ worth). You will also want to offer as close to the asking price as possible and not make many stipulations. Sadly, you don’t have the upper hand in this situation, so you have less negotiating power to be a stickler when it comes to lower rent and what furnishings/improvements to demand…which gives me cause to reiterate my advice on hiring a relocation agent who will endeavor to help you leverage this situation in your best interests to the best of your ability.
Remember that compromise is key, so if you keep holding out for that elusive, “perfect” London flat that ticks every single one of your boxes, I can almost guarantee you’ll lose your chance of getting that near-perfect one that meets as many of your requirements as you can reasonably expect. As I’ll be addressing this Saturday in my “Weekend Warrior Saturday: What You Can Do Today to Prep for Your London Move” post, you should have a clear ranking of priorities in mind to help you more quickly decide what you want most and what you can live without when you’re faced with the inevitable trade-offs across London apartments at your price-point and desired location. No one is immune.
The Silver Lining?
It does appear that incentives are improving for prospective buyers to “buy to let,” which would result in a gradual increase of private apartments available for rent. If London can see an influx of supply in rental housing, then demand should taper off a bit in relation and hopefully at least minimize the growth in rent prices if we can’t see an absolute decrease in them. It also means more perdy apartments for you to look at and consider for yourself when you make your London relocation. 🙂