Hints and Tips
These days many buyers start their search on the internet rather than carrying out the often time-consuming task of walking into every relevant estate agent’s office.
Whilst the majority of available properties are listed on the internet, many of these will already have been sold and, of course, those which are ‘off market’ will not appear.
The other downside of using the portals as your main search tool is that buyers may not realise that there is a huge amount more information which is not included in the basic description and details which the agents provide.
Here are just a few points to look out for when buying in Central London and another good reason as to why instructing an experienced London Property Finder could save you a lot of stress, time and money!
Things to look out for when buying in London:
There are many apartment blocks in Prime Central London, old and new; some which have a full concierge service and some which are manned daily by a porter. Service charges vary widely from approximately £3,000 per annum to £20,0000 and more. It is important to check if any large works are due to be carried out on the block itself, and if reserve funds have been collected in anticipation (known as a sinking fund).
You could be paying for the luxurious extras such as gymnasiums, swimming pools and porterage, so find out which blocks offer which services. You don’t want to be wanting to pay for you don’t want/need.
As many of the properties are period buildings, with lifts built a long time ago, they are often very small. If you are a young family using pushchairs, or if you travel frequently and carry large amounts of luggage this is something to bear in mind. Even lugging the shopping up the stairs can be a real burden.
There are quite a few streets affected by the underground (particularly the Piccadilly and Central Lines), which can be heard very clearly in some properties, so try to make sure that you stay in the property long enough to ensure that this doesn’t impact on the property and your peace and quiet, and don’t always take the estate agents word for it!
These beautiful garden squares are highly sought after, but make sure that the property you like is on the garden square that you are allowed access to, and find out what the rules are. You may find that using it for garden parties or playing ball games with your children may breach the rules. As a rule of thumb, if the property overlooks the garden square you can use it, but this is not always the case, so check the lease.
These may seem hugely complicated and often buyers try to avoid anything other than freehold or share of freehold. However, there are areas where leases are the norm, so ask your solicitor to have a look at a copy of the lease. Knowing the unexpired lease length and what the implications are is something that we and your solicitor will assist with.
if you are starting your search online and see a flat which is on the third floor or above, don’t forget to check whether there is a lift if it is something that you need. There are many beautiful top floor flats which were once part of a house and therefore do not have lifts. These can be as high as the 5th and 6th floors, so if you don’t fancy the climb read the information in the agents’ description – what they don’t say is often as important as what they do say!
As many flats in Prime Central London have often been owned by families for a long time, there are often options to buy one which is ‘un-modernised’ and this is a popular choice for those who have the time and ‘courage’ to refurbish one, and want to stamp their own mark. However, with so much building work having been carried out over the years, the managing agents and freeholders in many blocks have adopted rules to prevent noise problems and other issues such as leaks. Therefore, don’t assume that you can have wooden flooring, or that you can move a kitchen or bathroom to wherever you like, as there are often rules regarding ‘wet over dry’, for example.
These sought-after spaces, giving the London resident some ‘fresh’ air is obviously very popular, but sometimes are not demised (owned) by the flat, and again it’s crucial to ask for a copy of the actual demise of the property. Even if when viewing the property, it is clear the current owners use the space as a roof terrace, they may not be supposed to and this can cause issues should there be leaks to the flats below and whose responsibility this is etc.
There are many other aspects to look out for when buying a property and this is where using an experienced buying agent can save you time, disappointment and money.
There are a few buildings across Central London which have added a clause into the lease which basically stops properties from being rented out. The lease may state that the property cannot be let out for less than three years if at all. Whilst this may prove difficult to enforce it is a risk not worth taking if you are buying the property to rent out and will clearly impact those using a buy to let mortgage. These clauses may also impact on the resale value of the property because it is not therefore offered on a normal ‘open market’ sale because it is not available to every buyer.