A Guide for Buying Property
in London 2023
Our in-depth guide to buying a property in London in 2023 will take you through the buying process step by step, with plenty of useful information and advice to help you with the journey. For details about homes for sale in Central London, please get in touch with Hudsons Property at 020 7323 2277 for friendly, knowledgeable assistance.
To get your home-buying journey off to the best possible start, we recommend that you arrange your finances before you start your property search in London. Whether this means finding a suitable lender and agreeing on a mortgage in principle, or making independent funds available for a property purchase, establishing your financial situation beforehand will give you a realistic budget to work with and ultimately determine your property search.
In the event that you haven’t arranged finance or you are looking for mortgage deal comparisons, speak to Hudsons about referring a suitable independent mortgage broker.
Unless you are a cash buyer with independent means to finance your property purchase, you will need to arrange a mortgage to provide the funds to buy property in London. Speak to your bank, mortgage company or financial adviser to get an idea of how much you may be able to borrow. Better still, go through a pre-application with your lender as they will carry out all relevant financial checks which will help to speed the process along later.
While there are benefits to using your own bank where you have an existing customer relationship, it is also a good idea to visit an independent mortgage broker who can offer you rates from a variety of lenders and shop around for the best deal for you. Using a broker can save a great deal of time, money and hassle in getting a mortgage, however, do check how their remuneration works and if they charge a fee for their services.
In addition to the property price, there are a number of additional purchasing costs that you need to take into account when budgeting for an apartment or house purchase in Central London in 2023. Typically, these will include the following expenditures:
- Legal fees including conveyancing fees, local authority search fees, land registry fees and bank transfer fees
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), which is calculated as follows:
- Up to £250,000 = 0%
- £125,001 – £925,000 = 5%
- £925,001 – £1,500,000 = 10%
- £1,500,001+ = 12%
For the purchase of a second home, an additional 3% is due on the total amount of the purchase price. There is also a 2% SDLT surcharge payable to international buyers.
Different SDLT rules and rate calculations apply for corporate bodies, companies and trusts buying residential property, and multiple purchases or transfers.
- Survey and Mortgage Valuation fees. Your lender will require a Mortgage Valuation Survey to be conducted as a risk assessment to satisfy their lending criteria. In addition, buyers are advised to have an independent home survey carried out to assess the condition of the property. Hudsons are happy to recommend RICS-qualified surveyors, should you require one.
- Mortgage arrangement fees (if applicable)
- Service charge and ground rent (if leasehold)
Once you have a clear budget to work with, it’s time to start doing your homework. Draw up a list of requirements that the right house or a flat in London should provide, and match these to the available budget. This can be a delicate task that will involve asking many important questions, such as:
- How many bedrooms will you need?
- Do you favour new builds, modern homes or period properties?
- Do you have (or are planning to have) any children or pets?
- How important are private outdoor spaces such as a patio or garden?
- How much of a priority is private or on-road car parking?
- Will you be commuting to work by foot, bike, car or public transport?
- How important are local shops, bars and restaurants?
- Are you looking for nearby open spaces and leisure facilities?
- Do you have any other key criteria or non-negotiables?
At Hudsons Estate Agents in Central London, we have extensive experience in some of Central London’s most desirable residential areas and provide a professional service to our clients that goes the extra mile. As soon as you register with us, our team will begin assisting you in the search for buying a house in London, arranging a tour of our properties that best match your price range, so you can get a clear idea of the local property market.
You can register with Hudsons by calling in at our offices at 24 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2ND.
You will also find our contact and registration details by clicking on the Contact Us link.
Hudsons Property operates across London’s West End including some of the most desirable residential areas in the capital. Below are some handy Central London Area Guides to help you get a better flavour of the kind of lifestyle you can expect in different neighbourhoods in 2023.
If you are looking for city living but prefer a green and tranquil part of Central London, beautiful Bloomsbury with leafy Bloomsbury Square, Russell Square and Bedford Square offers the best of all worlds. Once home to world-famous literary figures such as Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf, this area is blessed with an abundance of history and art heritage. The British Museum and several University of London colleges are within easy walking distance. It’s a high-culture place to live while still maintaining a village-like feel.
Located in the heart of Central London and a hotspot for Londoners and tourists alike, Covent Garden is home to world-class restaurants and bars, museums and theatres, the Royal Opera House and many more cultural experiences. There’s a vibrant atmosphere with a rich historical heritage and a diverse mix of period and modern residential properties in a broad range of architectural styles. Recent substantial investment has breathed new life into the area and brought this part of London to the attention of discerning international investors.
Soho is rightly called the heartbeat of London on account of its high-energy atmosphere. Historically known for its nightlife and entertainment, it’s an exciting area in which to live and work. Residential properties here are a mix of beautiful Georgian townhouses, upper-parts apartments, loft living and new developments. In addition to experiencing Bohemian Soho life, the area is now reinventing itself as a new neighbourhood where movie and media industry players mix with modern city dwellers.
Bordered by Regent’s Park to the north, the West End to the south, Paddington to the west and Fitzrovia to the east, Marylebone is one of the most desirable Central London areas in which to live. There are Georgian and Edwardian-style homes aplenty alongside a wealth of new developments that are taking the property market by storm. In spite of its central location, Marylebone has succeeded in retaining a village feel within its community, which makes this area a popular choice for professional couples, families and overseas investors.
Awarded the title of ‘best place to live in London’ by the Sunday Times, Fitzrovia offers a huge mix of properties ranging from contemporary flats and modern buildings to historic Georgian houses, many of which have been converted into beautiful apartments. It’s a friendly and bustling neighbourhood and home to many of the capital’s creative industries but has a more relaxed vibe compared with Soho. There’s an eclectic restaurant scene and beautiful residential streets, all of which make Fitzrovia a bit of a hidden gem in the capital.
How can you make the most of viewing a property?
Depending on the market, we recommend that you view as many properties as you can within your price range to get the best overview of values in your chosen area. In a buoyant market, stock can go quickly which requires quick decision-making and often with minimal choice.
We also recommend that you check out the location of the property at different times of the day and night. This allows you to know exactly what the neighbourhood is like and can avoid the potentially expensive mistake of investing in a property in a location that doesn’t suit your lifestyle.
At Hudsons, we strive to arrange property viewings at times that best suit you. We will accompany you on weekday and evening viewings, and weekend viewings can be arranged by appointment.
How do you make an offer on a property for sale?
Once you have found a property that you would like to make an offer on, contact Hudsons by phone or email and we will submit the offer on your behalf. It is a good idea to back up your offer by reiterating the positive points that position you as a strong buyer, including your proposed timescale, whether you have a mortgage offer in principle, and if you have an agreed sale for your current home. We will inform the seller of your offer, both verbally and in writing.
Any offer you make on a property will be subject to a contract and will not be legally binding for either party until contracts are exchanged. Make sure you have a good solicitor to act on your behalf throughout the conveyancing process, as this can make all the difference in achieving a smooth transaction. If you need advice on instructing a solicitor, Hudsons will be more than happy to recommend one of our trusted professional industry contacts.
What happens after the property sale is agreed upon?
Once your offer has been accepted by the seller, the agreed sale terms will be confirmed in writing to all parties as a Memorandum of Sale. You will also be asked to provide proof of ID and proof of address to comply with HMRC Anti Money Laundering requirements.
You now need to instruct your legal representative to start the conveyancing process, while your mortgage adviser/lender needs to move your mortgage application (if applicable) onto the next level.
For your own peace of mind, you are strongly advised not to rely on the Mortgage Valuation Survey but to have an independent property survey carried out. Hudsons would be delighted to recommend a local surveyor to act on your behalf if required.
The seller’s solicitor, having obtained the property’s title deeds and any other relevant documentation, will prepare a draft Contract of Sale and a property information pack. Your solicitor will then go through all the papers received by the seller’s solicitor and raise any queries that need answering.
What does ‘exchanging contracts’ mean?
Under English law, the exchange of contracts is the point at which a property transaction becomes legally binding. Before the exchange, both the seller and the buyer are free to withdraw from the transaction at any time without penalty.
Once contracts are exchanged, however, both parties are contractually obliged to complete the purchase/sale. The deposit payment is transferred, a date for completion is set and confirmation is provided that all the legal paperwork is either already in place or is guaranteed to be in place before completion. Should either party choose to pull out after contracts have been exchanged, there would be financial penalties.
What happens after contracts are exchanged?
After the Contracts of Sale have been signed and formally exchanged, and the deposit transferred, the countdown to moving home begins in earnest. If you are selling and buying a property at the same time, this will involve a considerable amount of organisation. We recommend that you start making arrangements in good time. Key points you should be addressing now include:
- Booking a removal firm
- Transferring utility accounts to the new address
- Notifying all important contacts of your change of address
- Redirecting postal deliveries
- Arranging home insurance at the new property from the date of the exchange
- Obtaining parking permits etc for the new address
What happens on the day of completion?
Once the seller has vacated the property and the seller’s solicitor confirms that the remaining monies have been received, completion can take place. This is normally around lunchtime, but exact times can vary.
You may be feeling concerned, nervous or excited about the prospect of finally moving into your new home – after all, it has been a long journey to finally get to this point.
Completion is the final legal step in your property transaction. It is the day on which the buyer gets the keys to their new home and takes possession.
At Hudsons Property, we understand that buying a new home in London in 2023 can be a daunting experience and maybe a rather stressful process. Whether you are a first-time buyer, moving up the property ladder, investing in buy-to-let or downsizing your home, our guide to buying a house or flat in London shares some useful tips to help you make the journey a little bit easier.
Set a realistic budget
Buying a property is a major investment that requires careful analysis. In addition to getting a mortgage arranged, you will need to have funds available for the 10% deposit, stamp duty, legal and surveyor fees, estate agent fees (if you are selling a property) and removal costs. Ensure that you leave yourself plenty of financial headroom for unexpected expenditures.
Sell before you buy
Don’t be tempted to put in an offer to buy a property unless you have a sale agreed on your current home. Ideally, your buyer should have a completed chain or be chain free. Sellers will favour buyers who are in a good position to proceed, so make sure you are in the strongest possible position to maximise your chances of purchasing your dream home.
Secure a mortgage in principle
Unless you are able to proceed as a cash buyer, we strongly advise that you have a mortgage in principle agreed by your lender at the earliest opportunity. Making an offer with a mortgage in place will make you a pre-qualified buyer, meaning that you will be more likely to be favoured over a buyer who has yet to get their finances in place.
View the property several times
We highly recommend that you visit your preferred property at least twice. Take your partner or a friend with you for that all-important second pair of eyes, and take photos or videos (ask permission first) of the property to remind yourself of the details later. It is a good idea to revisit at different times of day to check the light, the neighbours, the noise etc.
Do what you can to facilitate communication to keep your purchase on track until the transaction has been completed. Keep all lines of communication open between your solicitor, your agent and yourself to increase the chances of the purchase progressing smoothly and without any hiccups. At Hudsons, our staff are highly experienced in how to buy property in London and will help you from start to finish.