Realistic expectations and tips on how long it takes to buy property in London.
A recent conversation with a potential new client got me thinking about how we advise our clients around how long the process takes to find great property.
The potential new client has ambitions to set me a firm deadline for his property search.
“Cliff, I need you to find me a great rental investment while I am in London over the next 2/3 weeks!”
Now, I’m always up for a challenge but this is a market where you just cannot afford to make a mistake or rush a search through unless you are extremely lucky and the perfect “box ticking” property is readily available.
The thing is, it’s very easy to buy property in London.
At the moment, there is plenty for sale across all postcodes. Choose a property, throw in an offer and you can get a purchase completed in a matter of weeks.
However, we feel that taking this approach will usually see you choosing the best of what is available now rather than the best of what is available and unless you are extremely lucky, you will end up with a compromised property which will struggle to find a tenant or a property with limited prospects for healthy capital appreciation.
As a Property Buying Agent in London, I try to consider what I would do if it were my money I was investing: you have to strike a balance on several fronts.
Finding a motivated and serious seller is one part of the equation. Primarily though, it’s about the quality of the property for sale: best of the best apartments in any given building, or the very best type of house available on any given street. There are several important questions you also need to ask yourself when you want to buy property in London:
- Are you compromising in any way by rushing the process?
- Could you do better if you waited?
If you are not 100% satisfied with that last question, you simply cannot commit.
We take the view that is always a great time to buy if you can find properties which fall into our “best of the best” criteria provided they are being sold by owners who are realistic about where the market is at the point of sale and there is a good deal to be done.
This has been a great year for the business so far, in fact, the best year we have ever had in terms of fee income.
So, why has this year been such a good one for us? We found some exciting properties, both openly available and off-market, where the discounts to be had against asking price were too tempting to refuse. These are rare and exceptional properties where we have been ahead of the market in terms of the negotiations to lower the purchase price. As a result, we have some really happy clients, excited to be moving into their new homes safe in the knowledge that they have been patient in waiting for the right properties to come along, tenacious in their negotiations and comfortable with the price they have paid for the quality of property they are moving to.
Yes, we may well have further pain to endure with the housing market in Central London, but we firmly believe that the properties we have advised on this year will outperform the market over the next 5/10 years. In other words, we were patient, waited for the right properties and struck great deals when we had the opportunity to.
So, to my potential new client, I had to be brutally honest.
We are not in this game to take quick fees and buy run of the mill property. Our reputation is built on delivering a premium service and advising on exceptional property. We avoid overpromising and are experienced enough to know that sometimes finding the very best property takes time. The market is difficult and prospects for growth are worrying many of our property buying clients.
Despite these difficult market conditions, it is our view that if the deal is right and the property is good enough, now is as good a time as any to make a move. However, it takes as long as it takes and you cannot rush.
With that advice taken on board, my new client has signed up and has much more realistic expectations about his property search and how long it takes to buy property in London.