A Guide for Buying Property
in London 2022
Below is our in-depth guide to buying a home in London which will take you through each step of the buying process and provide useful answers to many important questions along your journey. For more information about homes for sale in Central London, please get in touch with Hudsons on 020 7323 2277 for friendly, knowledgeable, professional advice and assistance.
In order to get your home buying process off to the best possible start, we recommend that you arrange your finances before you begin your property search in London. Whether this means agreeing a mortgage in principle with your lender, or making independent funds available, establishing your financial situation beforehand will give you a realistic budget to work with and ultimately dictate your property search.
If you haven’t arranged your finances or are looking for comparable deals, speak to Hudsons about referring a suitable independent mortgage broker.
How do you obtain a mortgage?
Unless you are a cash buyer with independent financial means at your disposal, you will need to arrange a mortgage to finance the purchase of your London property. Get an idea of how much you are able to borrow by speaking to your bank or a mortgage company. It is even better if you can go through a pre-application with your lender as they will do all the financial checks prior which will speed the process along later.
While it can be beneficial to use your own bank where you are a known customer, 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 you a lot of time, money and hassle in getting a mortgage, but do check how their remuneration works and if they charge a fee for their services.
What other purchasing costs should you consider?
In addition to the property price, there are a number of additional costs that you need to take into account when budgeting for an apartment or house purchase in Central London. 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 £125,000 = 0%
- £125,001 – £250,000: = 1%
- £250,001 – £925,000: = 5%
- £925,001 – £1,500,000: = 10%
- £1,500,001+ = 20%
For the purchase of a second home, an additional 3% is due on the total amount of the purchase price. There is an additional 2% SDLT for international buyers.
- Survey and Mortgage Valuation fees. Your lender will require a Mortgage Valuation Survey to be carried out as a risk assessment to satisfy their lending criteria. In addition, you are advised to have an independent home survey carried out to assess the condition of the property. Hudsons can recommend RICS qualified surveyors should you require one.
- Mortgage arrangement fees (if applicable)
- Service charge and ground rent (if leasehold)
Once you have a budget in mind, you can start doing your research and draw up a list of requirements to determine what to look for when buying a house or a flat. Matching your budget to your requirements is a delicate task that will involve asking many important questions. These include:
- How many bedrooms will you need?
- Do you favour new-builds, modern homes or period properties?
- Do you have (or are planning)pets?
- How important is private outside 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?
Why should you register with Hudsons Estate Agents?
At Hudsons, we will immediately begin assisting you in the search for your new home and will invite you to undertake a tour of our properties that best match your price range, so you can get a better idea of what you can expect for your money.
You can register with Hudsons by calling in at our offices at 24 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2ND.
You will find our contact and registration details by clicking on the Contact Us link.
Hudsons operate across the West End of London including some of the most desirable residential areas in the capital. We’ve compiled some useful Central London Area Guides to help you get a better flavour for the kind of lifestyle you can expect in different neighbourhoods.
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 including Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf, the area is blessed with an abundance of history and art heritage. The British Museum and several University of London colleges are within walking distances. 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 cultural experiences. It’s a vibrant atmosphere with a rich historical heritage and a diverse mix of period and modern residential property 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 attentional 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 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 separate apartments. It’s a friendly and bustling neighbourhood and home to many of the capital’s creative industries with an ambience that’s more laid back than Soho. There’s an eclectic restaurant scene and beautiful residential streets, all of which makes Fitzrovia a bit of a hidden gem.
What are your tips for viewing a property?
Depending on the market, viewing as many properties as you can within your price range will give you the best knowledge 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 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 an expensive mistake to purchase 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 your ideal home and decide to make an offer, 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 your positive points as a 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 contract, and is not legally binding for either party until contracts are exchanged. Make sure you have a good solicitor to act for you throughout the conveyancing process, as this can make all the difference to achieve a smooth transaction. If you need advice on instructing a solicitor, Hudsons are happy to recommend one of our trusted professional industry contacts.
What happens when the property sale has been agreed?
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 be asked to provide proof of identification and proof of address to comply with HMRC Anti Money Laundering requirements.
You now need to instruct your legal representative to begin the conveyancing process, while your mortgage advisor/bank needs to move your mortgage application (if applicable) on to the next level. Once your mortgage is agreed in principle, your mortgage lender will appoint their own surveyor.
For your own peace of mind, you are strongly advised to also have your own independent property survey carried out. Hudsons will be happy to recommend a local surveyor to act on your behalf, if required.
When the seller’s solicitor has obtained the property’s title deeds and any other relevant documentation, they 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 it mean to exchange contracts?
Under English law, exchange of contracts is the point at which a property transaction becomes legally binding. Before exchange, both the seller and the buyer are free to withdraw from the transaction at any time without penalty.
Once contracts are exchanged, both parties are now 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 then. Should either party choose to pull out after contracts have been exchanged, there would be penalties.
What happens after contracts have been 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 plenty of time. Key points you need to address include:
- Instructing a removal firm
- Transfer of utility accounts to the new address
- Change of home address notifications
- Redirection of post
- Home insurance of the new property from the date of exchange of contracts
- Obtaining parking permits etc for the new address
What happens on completion day?
Once the property has been vacated and the seller’s solicitor confirms that the remaining monies have been received, completion can take place. This is normally around lunchtime but can vary.
You may be feeling concerned, nervous or excited about the prospect of finally moving into your new home – after all, you may have been waiting for a long time for your sale or purchase to complete.
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, we understand that buying a new home can be a daunting experience and 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, we’ve put together some useful tips and advice to help you make the journey a little bit easier.
Establish 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, the stamp duty, legal and surveyor fees, estate agent fees (if you are also selling) and removal costs. Ensure that you also leave yourself some financial headroom for unexpected expenditures.
Sell before you buy
Before you make an offer to buy a property, it is advisable to have a sale agreed on your current home, ideally to someone with a completed chain or who is chain free. Sellers will favour buyers who are in a good position to proceed, which will maximise your chances of purchasing your dream home.
Have a mortgage agreed in principle
Unless you are 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 and you will be more likely to be favoured over a buyer who has yet to get his finances in place.
View the property several times
It is important to 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. Make sure you 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 completed. Keep all lines of communication open between your solicitor, your agent and yourself to increase the chance of the purchase progressing successfully. At Hudsons our staff are highly experienced in the purchasing process and will help you from start to finish.