Musings of a London Property Finder
With savings rates at a record low, the stock market in turmoil with High Street names going under on a daily basis and borrowing rates exceedingly favourable for those with good credit ratings and hefty deposits, is it time to move investments into bricks and mortar? Wearing our hats as London property finders and relocation agents dealing predominantly with prime property, we would say yes.
Since the 60s, we’ve always been rather fond of property. You can see it. You can live in it. You can rent it out and if you bought well, you should cover all costs with a bit left over. If it burns down, or floods or your tenants don’t pay the rent, you should have insurance which will pay out and indemnify you against your losses. You can borrow against property and even if you lose your main source of revenue, you could still have insurance to cover payments on your property investment.
You just need to buy the right property in the right location at the right price.
We predominantly use the land registry data to study house price statistics, which is a month behind the others but is based on actual sale prices. The latest data shows that property prices are down 10% in London and Bedfordshire, 9% in East Sussex and Essex and 7% in Buckinghamshire and Kent. The problem is, the masses aren’t buying, with property sales down 60%.
But there is still money around for properties priced correctly, or perhaps we should say – at a giveaway price. The difference between now and 18 months or even a year ago is that prime properties are increasingly being sold discretely, to avoid ending up on property snake or appear stale if they don’t sell. Auctions which are always a good barometer, are full of lesser quality flats and low value housing, often ex-local authority properties which made great buy-to-let investments with strong yields when purchased cheaply. Good beaten up properties have become thin on the ground, indeed there have been less than half a dozen properties with guide prices over £500K in most London auctions during the last 6 months. But there is a plethora of very smart properties available for those of us who know where to look.
With buyers thin on the ground, it’s a good time to buy if you buy well and are prepared to walk away if a vendor refuses to play ball. Prices may be down 10% but discounts far exceeding this can be achieved at present, so assuming the market continues to fall – which it will, buyers should be cushioned if they negotiate effectively.
In our view, the market overheated in 2007 – we said that in February 2007 and regularly advised our investors not to enter the market and frequently warned our residential home buyers that we thought the price asked was too high. So although the headlines are black, this readjustment is not all bad news. In our view it has reduced the number of agents and vendors pricing a property by sticking their index finger in the air, although there are still a surprising number of those. Estate agents have to earn their commission somehow, after all and if some poor sucker will pay it – some will think, why not? We are still seeing the odd home on both the sales and rental markets which are overpriced by 100%+.
So if you don’t want to pay over the odds and you need a London Property Finder or Relocation Agent who will be efficient and organised, call us on 020 7923 7564.