Greetings, Weekend Warriors researching your London move! Last week I addressed some pros and cons of buying versus renting in London. To follow on that thread, today I’ll share some considerations if you are highly interested in purchasing a house when you relocate to London.
The actual task of househunting is not going to be any easier than the flat-search, I would think, so a London relocation agency that deals in sales as well as lettings would be an efficient way to maximize the property portfolio you view. Otherwise, your process is going to be similar to the flat-search—research the applicable estate agencies, contact them with your criteria, and make sure you’re on their contact list for when any opportunities arise. And as with looking for London apartments to rent, looking for houses to buy should be done in person; yes, the internet is a useful tool for gauging exteriors, interiors, and their attached price tags, but you want to be in London when you carry out your serious search, which is a reason why last week I recommended that you consider renting first so you can be here a while to realistically evaluate neighborhoods and properties.
In general, mortgage lenders may grant you up to four times your income as an individual (or up to three as a couple), and if you’re a new borrower, you may be entitled to a discount. Where deposits are concerned, you’ll want to at the very least pay down 10% of the property value if you want to take advantage of more competitive mortgage rates. The more you pay down, the better the rate you’ll get, though, so if you can pay 20% or more, you’ll be in better shape. You will also want to pay for a survey that validates the value of your prospective property is worth the asking price to improve chances the lender will agree to the loan. And along with researching mortgage lenders, look into solicitors that can help you handle all the home-buying paperwork.
And then there’s that crucial step of making the offer – Please consult my previous posts “Renting London Apartments: The Current Low-Down on LDN” Part 2, which discuss the sealed bidding and positively rotten “gazumping” practices that could be involved whether buying or renting housing, posing risk to your offer actually being accepted. In either case, you’ll want to enhance your “proceedability”—that is, show yourself as a candidate who will ensure the sale will proceed efficiently and without issue, which involves factors like proof of your financial soundness and ability to transfer funds to the UK.
My husband and I rent our apartment, so I can’t share any personal anecdotes about this process. But between the abundance of internet resources (a few of which I’ll mention next week) and London estate agencies available to take your enquiries over phone or email, you can educate yourself one step at a time; just be sure you get started early enough to minimize any surprises along the way of your relocation.