How to find and buy property for sale in London, whether you want to buy a house in London’s Canary Wharf with a postcard view, or need help to buy London properties in some of the quieter, leafy suburbs.
With a population of more than 8.6 million, London is a densely populated metropolis with a melting pot of multi-ethnic residents from all over the world. As the hub for the UK’s economy, politics and culture this city attracts a great deal of Brits and foreigners, despite high costs of living and higher than average housing prices than the rest of the UK.
Buying UK property is likely to be one of the biggest investments of your life, particularly in London where house prices are considerably higher. And with so many people all looking for accommodation in London, the housing market is very competitive for both renting and buying London property, with the market operating under its own influences and factors.
This guide on how to buy a house in London includes information regarding houses for sale in London and related topics such as:
- Property for sale in London – a good investment?
- Property prices in London
- Where to buy in London?
- Central London
- South London
- North London
- West London
- East London
- Real estate agents in London
The number of people renting and buying in London is currently split 50:50, however, research by Price Waterhouse Cooper forecasts that London will become a city of renters by 2025, with just 40% owning their homes. Much of this is due to an increasing younger demographic, also known as Generation Rent (those aged between 20-39) who are being priced out of the buying market and forced to remain renting. This continued increase in the rental sector will inevitably mean there will be less houses for sale, but should you wish to buy-to-let you shouldn’t have any issues finding tenants.
However, the London buying market is still an attractive prospect for those who have the financial resources and has remained relatively stable over the past years, including post Brexit. The luxury-end of the market with homes over £1 million has experienced a slow-down in the last year with changes to Stamp Duty from 1st April 2016, but new transport-led regeneration and the Government pledge in January 2016 to fund the building of more affordable homes in London, including London flats and houses, is working towards creating more homes in ‘up and coming’ or re-developed areas, which can see your budget go considerably further.
The thirty-two London boroughs cover a huge area and naturally prices vary depending on where and the type of London property you buy. A large majority of property sales in more central boroughs are flats in London, as many older buildings and new developments are divided into apartments for sale.
According to the Zoopla ZED-index, the average London house value in January 2017 is around £655,000, which has increased by 2.23 per cent from the previous year. However, choosing central areas such as the City of Westminster, will give you an average price in the region of £1,172,000, which will be considerably more than if you bought a London flat outside the central areas of London. Meanwhile in other long-standing desirable and affluent areas like Chelsea and Kensington you should expect your budget to exceed upward of £2 million at least.
Although, if you want more space and don’t mind a longer commute into the city, there are bargains to be had further out and have the option of buying a house, most likely a terrace or semi-detached property with a garden. According to recent figures published by London estate agents Foxton’s, property can be bought under £500,000 in up-and-coming areas like Croydon and Bromley and these areas have generally benefited from improved transport links too.
When you buy property in London, location is paramount as the amount of time it takes to travel to work, schools or just socialising can be significant. However, the good news is that London boasts a fantastic transport system with the London Underground (Tube), over ground train and bus services and major roads that work to make travelling in and around London as quick and simple as possible.
Naturally, if you’re living on your own or as a young couple, it’s likely you’ll want to be close to heart of the city, but families may want and need to look further out to get the choice of larger properties and good schools.
To help you decide on the types of areas that might be best suited to your situation and budget, here’s a few pointers on some of the best areas to buy in London. You can also read our guide on the top 10 places to live in London.
The areas within Central London are often a preferred choice for young professionals, couples and expats, who want a close proximity to everything. If money’s no object and you’d rather pay more for a central location to gain a minimal commute and have all the top sites, like views of the Thames, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London close by, then your best bet is to buy an apartment in central London.
As mentioned above, the prices in the high-end areas with luxury properties in traditional London townhouses or plush new-builds are in boroughs like Knightsbridge and Belgravia and prices come at a premium. But shop around and you could still find a reasonably priced property that will almost always yield a good return on investment.
South of the River Thames offers a great variety of houses in London, from riverside London apartments on the Southbank and re-generated Battersea to three-storey terraced-houses in areas like Clapham and Dulwich Village that are popular with young professionals and families alike.
Some key up and coming areas in South London include Croydon, Wandsworth, Bromley, Peckham and Lewisham where your money will go much further to make a good investment for the future, as many of these areas are currently experiencing good levels of growth.
In Croydon in South-west London property can be bought for under £400,000, while Wandsworth and Lewisham are averaging in the region of between £600-700,000. These areas all boast excellent transport links to the city and have a wide range of state and private schools, along with good local amenities and outdoor commons and parks, so often you won’t even need to travel outside your borough.
North London also has a great deal of boroughs close to central London, including Camden, Islington and Shoreditch, renowned for having a hip social and art scene. Inevitably the rise in popularity has caused prices to go up considerably in these areas, but another increasingly popular area in North London with plenty to offer could be Barnet.
As one of London’s largest boroughs, it is particularly suited to families as it has a great range of schools and excellent transport links into the centre of London via underground or over ground train, as well as close road links to the M25 and M1. It also has a great deal of public green spaces and a diverse and self-sufficient area full of amenities.
Hammersmith and Fulham are two boroughs in West London close to the city that have seen a great deal of growth over recent years, although this has slowed over the last twelve months.
However, other promising areas like Wembley are also proving to be a popular choice for buyers, with a series of new developments for an open-air shopping centre and housing attracting more buyers to the area. It has efficient transport links, despite being in Zone 4 and is close to the M25 and M1 road links out of the city, as well as being just a short train ride to Heathrow Airport.
Other popular western London boroughs include Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston upon Thames that offer large houses, pretty tree-lined streets and plenty of green areas for recreation and relaxation.
Since the 2012 London Olympics, East London has undergone major redevelopment, particularly in areas such as Stratford and Newham, which have witnessed huge investment over the past decade.
However, it’s still possible to find a good value property in these areas with excellent links to Canary Wharf and central London, as the average house prices are typically under £400,000. This area does have one of the most ethnically-diverse and young demographics in London, which often makes it a popular choice with aspiring young professionals and expats, rather than families.
With a fast-moving market and a shortage in demand for houses and flats for sale in London, finding property in London can take some time.
They key is to do as much research on an area as possible and secure your finances in advance. Therefore, you know exactly what you can afford, what you want and can act fast – there’s very little time to hand around and dawdling and unnecessary delays could result in you losing the property you want.
There are thousands of independent estate agents operating in London, some are national franchises like Savills, Haart and Countrywide, while others like Foxton’s specialise in property in London and nearby Surrey.