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Insight & Opinion

A quick guide to buying property in London

Author: Luke

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Given buoyant property prices and the opportunities for lucrative investment, every part of London – from Shoreditch in the East End to leafy West Hampstead – continues to attract residential property buyers.

If you’re in the market for a new home in the capital, North London estate agent Paramount Properties gives you some tips and advice.

Buying property

Purchasing a London home follows much the same process as buying property anywhere else in the UK – except that the prices and therefore the stakes tend to be considerably higher, especially in sought-after areas such as Mayfair.

Financing the purchase

Before beginning any search for property to buy, you need to know just how much you are going to be able to afford to pay.

Typically, this is likely to come in the shape of finance from a mortgage lender – and in that case early application and agreement in principle to the amount of any mortgage advance is essential.

Choosing the property

Given the size of any investment you are likely to make in buying property in London, it is prudent to take all of the professional help and advice that is available.

This includes consultation with a local estate agent experienced in conducting property negotiations in the capital – help and guidance that is likely to come entirely free to you the buyer.

Legal assistance

An essential member of your team of advisers – and one to instruct at the same time you start your search for properties – is your solicitor.

Although the process of conveyance – the legal transfer of ownership from the seller to buyer – does not start until after you put in an offer for the property, it is prudent to instruct your solicitor well in advance of setting the ball rolling.

Making an offer

This is one of the most critical stages in purchasing any property – and one that is considered on a step by step guide published by Home.co.uk

In order to decide how much you are prepared to offer it is, of course, important to know what the property is worth. By all means consider the professional opinions offered by your local estate agent on the question of market valuation, but bear in mind that the agent is instructed by, and is therefore working on behalf of, the seller and not you.

Survey and valuation

Although making an offer before this stage might seem like putting the cart before the horse, it is common practice to commission a survey and detailed valuation of the property only after your offer has been accepted.

The reason for that is the relatively high cost of surveys and valuations – an expense which you might want to avoid if there is little chance of your offer being accepted.

Legal work and mortgage agreement

On the strength of a positive – or at least acceptable – survey and valuation, your solicitor or conveyancer may complete all the necessary legal work and you may proceed with the final agreement with any mortgage lender.

Exchange of contracts

To all intents and purposes this is frequently the final stage in the process of purchasing the property – you are contractually committed to proceeding with the purchase and if you back out at this stage, you stand to lose the amount of deposit – typically 10% – you paid on exchange of contracts.

The principles may be the same, the logical sequence of steps more or less identical, but when estate agents in Wimbledon handle the sale of a home the stakes are likely to be considerably higher than for purchases elsewhere in the country.

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