Buying for children – still a smart London property play?

According to Legal & General, the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ will contribute to 47% of house purchases this year. But does this really reflect what is happening in the prime London buying market?

As a London buying agent, many of my clients are parents investing in property for their children. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting dozens of families over the years, and parental-led purchases have always formed a large part of the prime London market. In my role, circa 20% of active requirements come from clients buying for their children.

From my experience, buying real estate for children remains a wise decision. It sits at the intersection of securing a comfortable future for the next generation, economic foresight, emotional attachment, and a desire to provide safety and stability.

Typically, the parents drive the decision to start a property search, often as part of their tax planning. I have had clients whose children are very young and properties were being ‘bought for them’, but when you get to know the client, other reasons for the purchase emerge. Examples include wanting a rental investment in the immediate term that is tax efficient, protecting assets from Capital Gains or Inheritance Tax if it is structured correctly, or simply using the rent to pay the school fees. The children are rarely involved in the early stages of the search.

In some instances, I have parents looking to buy as many as three or four London properties for their children of equal size and budget so that there is no favouritism shown. Siblings tend not to share individual properties as this can cause complications if one party decides to move at a later stage.

On my patch, I tend to see families searching for properties within the £2 – £5 million price range. However, parents buying multiple properties need to factor in paying multiple sets of legal fees and stamp duties. Most of the properties we have sourced for children this year have been houses with a freehold, as this reduced the parents’ exposure to service charges and other costs.

These variables form part of the initial consultation with clients at the start of the process to understand their needs and advise on which London areas would best suit them and their budget.

I recently advised an Australian family on the merits of London postcodes and property options for their daughter, most of which were off-market. The reality is that a two bedroom flat in Notting Hill is great, but moving further to a location like Battersea, Putney or Clapham will secure a house for the same budget. Many of these areas are excellent locations but have been hampered by the lack of quality housing, transport links and amenities in the past. Consequently, they are more affordable than some of their more affluent neighbours.

I have seen a spike in demand for parents seeking properties in Fulham, South West London, where there are more options for Victorian houses and prices can range from £1.5 – £2.5 million for a good-sized house on the best streets. These properties are also easily resellable should circumstances change.

Nostalgia also plays a significant role in choosing a location. Many parents have a deep-seated attachment to an area whether due to personal experiences, cultural ties, or professional opportunities. This emotional connection often drives the decision to invest in property to preserve familial roots and ensure that future generations have a tangible link to the family’s history and heritage.

In conclusion, London, as a global financial and cultural hub, has long been an attractive destination for property investment. Parents keen on ensuring the financial well-being of their offspring recognise the potential long-term gains and liquidity that London’s real estate market can offer. The city’s property values have historically shown a consistent upward trajectory, making real estate an appealing asset for wealth accumulation. By purchasing property for their children, parents essentially provide them with a valuable asset that is likely to appreciate over time, potentially serving as a foundation for future financial security.

For more information, please get in touch with me here.

What do wealthy buyers want in a home? London vs Country

The Wealth Report 2023, published by Knight Frank earlier this year, gave us a comprehensive review of prime property markets, global wealth distribution and luxury spending trends.

However, how do these luxury trends translate into what spaces and amenities wealthy buyers seek in their next property purchase? And how does this differ between our London and countryside clients? We asked Philip Eastwood (Partner, London) and Mark Lawson (Partner, Country) to share their insights.

London – by Philip Eastwood

I’ve seen a spike in demand from London buyers favouring functional, usable, and low-maintenance spaces.

As the cost per square foot in London is so high, clients want to maximise the use of their space and prefer properties with areas that can be enjoyed daily rather than occasionally. For example, some of our clients don’t want swimming pools that are rarely used and have high maintenance costs. It’s come full circle. They would rather have a really good utility room for daily use or even more extensive wardrobes.  Many clients already have homes in places like Majorca, Ibiza, and the South of France with a pool, so they don’t need one in their basement.

Clients often insist on property features that make life more comfortable and efficient. Double glazing, air-conditioning, fibre broadband, on-site porters and parking are all prerequisites. These requirements outweigh extras like saunas, cinema rooms and gyms. Even some high-end lighting systems with complicated control systems have become passé as clients look for wireless and smart AV solutions.

This pursuit for practical spaces also crosses over into the condition of a property. My clients want their homes to be turn-key and a finished product. That means they expect a well-fitted kitchen, a good shower, and top-end interior design and materials. Very few clients have the appetite to take on a lengthy refurbishment project.

The topic of security is also becoming more prevalent. Clients are interested in how safe a street is and the security systems available. The notion of a panic room can make people feel uncomfortable. However, some London roads employ private security firms to reduce crime. For example, Chelsea Square and Brunswick Gardens have regular patrols with guards and dogs – all paid for by the residents.

Lastly, I have noticed that clients continue to look for properties with considerable floor-to-ceiling heights and big walls. Why? Well, with art investments rising by 29% in 2023 and the stellar prices paid for museum-quality works of art by ultra-wealthy collectors, our clients need bigger spaces for bigger art pieces!

Country – by Mark Lawson

As London buyers crave pragmatism, we receive more extravagant requests in the countryside, where our clients have plenty of space to work with.

To complement outdoor country living, no country home is complete without a boot room. A client of mine built himself a new boot room where each family member had their own named space, polished oak locker, each with a heater to dry out and warm up two pairs of Wellington boots. It also included heated coat, hat and glove sections. 

Often, dogs have their oak-panelled beds with their names, a shower or wash area, and sections for all their leads.

There is also demand for the ‘butler’s pantry’ as an amenity, a space that allows the host to prep for meals without entering the kitchen. These spaces are becoming more multi-functional and elaborate, and I expect this will be a trend that grows as interior designers continue to push the boundaries.

I have had clients with specific needs for wardrobe space and storage.  I once had a client who had an online database for the contents of her wardrobe so that she could track precisely which pieces of clothing were in her houses around the world. We have also seen clients with refrigerated wardrobes for those with pieces of clothing that are preserved best at lower temperatures, like faux fur and suedes.

Another popular area is the continued interest in well-being spaces and wellness activities. Padel tennis is the fastest-growing sport in the world – lots are installing courts at home. The craze spread quickly amongst country house owners and purchasers, with many building courts on their land. We have also seen clients asking for ice baths, cryotherapy chambers and meditation spaces – dedicated rooms for recovery, reflection and spirituality.

Finally, an increasing number of wealthy individuals are interested in sustainable and eco-friendly features, such as solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and eco-conscious building materials. This means they can offset the costs of running high-end amenities such as pools and home cinemas.

Outlook on the prime central London market this autumn

It goes without saying that the last year of uncertainty amid interest rate hikes has had an instrumental impact on the real estate market. Whilst we expect the interest rate to have finally hit its peak, here is our outlook on the buying market and the shift we’re seeing in prime central London.

In a period that is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year, as we enter the autumn market, we are optimistic that London stock levels will improve, and this will continue for the remainder of 2023 into 2024. Whilst we expect house prices to further reduce elsewhere in the country, the average sale price of London prime properties has shown resilience throughout the past year, and we expect this to continue.

There is greater demand than usual from clients for turn-key properties – the appetite for ‘projects’ is low, so clients looking for a recently refurbished property in prime central London could really benefit from a buying agent. Often, we get access to these properties before they hit the open market and given that demand is outstripping supply, gaining that advantage will be crucial to being able to get the right property, in the right area at the right price.

We’ve also seen an increased demand for pied-à-terre properties in the capital as the shift to more permanent hybrid working patterns continues. I recently acted for a US client who was looking for a pied-à-terre. We helped them purchase an apartment in Knightsbridge’s most sought-after garden square address, right in the heart of the action, meeting their needs and giving them the perfect home from home. 

We’re also seeing a higher than average number of clients who currently rent but are deciding to buy. Unsurprisingly, rising rent prices in London are pushing some buyers to consider the trade-off between paying rent or buying a property and absorb the Stamp Duty – especially if they intend to extend their stay in London. Regarding other London hotspots, Marylebone, Chelsea, and Notting Hill continue to be popular choices amongst my client base, but London villages are also desirable. Locations like Wimbledon, Clapham, Barnes and Chiswick offer clients a short commute to the office with plenty of family activities on their doorstep.

As buying specialists, our local knowledge is critical if a buyer is searching for something particular. We can target specific houses. If the buyers are looking in a defined area, we will often already know the houses; if we don’t, we make approaches.

Buoying the stock levels for the rest of the year are those facing re-mortgaging who will assess their options on whether to hold on to a large family house, downsize or sell a second property. Add to this the uncertainty of a general election in 2024 and the Labour Party proposing to charge VAT on independent school fees, we may see vendors choosing to leave London in search of areas with excellent grammar schools.

In conclusion, with London and prime central London readying for a busy Q4, getting the right advice and expertise from an experienced buying agent is a wise decision. Get in touch with me here if you would like to carry on the conversation.

Five differences between a buying agent and a selling agent

My professional life has changed considerably since I joined The Buying Solution in January 2023 as a buying agent. I never imagined I would be commandeering a helicopter to view off-market properties in Sussex, Surrey and Kent!

A bit about me: I grew up in Somerset, then moved to London in my early twenties and started my estate agency career with Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward before moving to Carter Jonas’ Barnes office. My first buying role was with an established boutique agency, Crown Mayfair. I then spent 5 years within Savills’ country department selling super prime country properties in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire.

Having worked on both sides of the fence, I often think about the differences in skillset and lifestyle when moving from selling to buying agent. Here are my top 5:

We only represent the buyer

Buying agents differ from estate agents in that we are retained by the buyer to act in their best interest and charge a fee for this service. Our key objective is to find and secure a property that best matches our clients’ preferences and guide them through the whole search and acquisition process. 

We also aim to secure this on the best terms and price for our client, whereas, of course, the estate or letting agents work in the seller’s best interests. Sales agents are appointed to sell a property on behalf of the vendor, and once the transaction goes through, their job is done. Each agent will charge a fee for their service.

Giving access to off-market opportunities is one of our main winning edges. In fact, most of our transactions are off-market with many being totally exclusive to our client.

People and relationships

I prefer working as a buying agent primarily because it is a people business, and we work a lot closer with our clients which makes it more rewarding. 

Buying agents are much less process-driven and more focused on people, relationships and giving the best advice. It is not a servile relationship but more of a trusted advisor role based on honesty, often resulting in friendships at the end of the process. I have already been referred to a client’s friend to help with their search after securing them their new home.

You have to invest time to understand the client’s brief properly, and often, buyers may not even know what they want or may have misconceptions about certain areas or property types. Then, you have to find the right property at the right price, which often means mining a network of contacts to unearth off-market gems. As a buying agent, our job rarely ends when the deal has been completed, and our clients often seek our help once they have moved, whether it is for recommendations for local amenities, interior designers, architects, or property management issues, to name just a few.

Generally, once an exchange has taken place, the estate agent’s role has been satisfied, and they will be off to commence the next sale. Meanwhile, the buying agent is still liaising with the client over contractors, architects, security and other professionals, ensuring the transfer and completion run smoothly. Rarely will an estate agent go around to the house on the day of completion to check that the curtains included in the sale are at the property, for example. Our completion day starts with an inspection prior to final monies being released and we are then there to deal with the handover of keys and ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible.

Listening, empathy and discretion

The best buying agents listen to their clients. They understand what and why their client wants to buy something and quickly learn their likes and dislikes. Empathy and discretion are extremely important and differentiate the good from the bad or mediocre.

Most importantly, a good buying agent must know why the purchase price should be a certain amount when the agent is asking for something different.

The second important role is to highlight the positives and any possible negatives that might affect the client’s experience or the property’s future value. We explore what’s happening in the local area and delve into planning portals to spot any issues. As an example, is there a threat of major development in the area? A new housing development, be it close by or a number of miles away, could change the area dramatically in a few years – be it travel time to schools/stations or an impact on the view. Fracking is also a topic that we advise our clients on. A buying agent will organise surveyors, liaise with solicitors and other professionals to ensure the transaction proceeds with the minimum of fuss.

A buying agent’s role is not one of selling but of advising and safeguarding that their client’s interests are looked after at every step of the way, listening to them rather than telling. Although we are not afraid to tell clients what they might not want to hear if it is in their best interests.

Attention to detail

The buying process is often much longer than the selling process. To begin with, we will proactively search the market using our network of contacts to give you access to all properties that suit your requirements, including those that are only available ‘off market’. Patience is often needed as our role is to find the client the right house and on the right terms, so we have to play the long game at times to achieve this.

The search is only the start of The Buying Solution’s service, as we conduct extensive due diligence on the property, providing impartial advice on price and any other issues that might affect your future enjoyment. These are then summarised in our comprehensive due diligence report.

Our teams are made up of experts in their region who know how to get their clients to a ‘preferred buyer status’ and negotiate the most favourable terms on their behalf. It is only sometimes the case that the highest price wins, and we are creative and flexible when it comes to negotiating on your behalf. Once terms are agreed upon, we guide the purchase through to exchange of contracts dealing with any issues that might arise and working closely with solicitors and other advisers.

Following an exchange of contracts, we provide clients with a completion and handover service. This includes inspecting the property on the morning of completion to ensure everything is as it should be before final monies are released.

On purchases, our completion management specialist will then deal with the transfer of staff (if required), utilities and services and provide you with a New Owners Guide on how everything works, as well as advice on the ongoing management and the running of the property.

It’s not for everybody

I find that my role as a buying agent is much more varied than before. I cover a bigger region – from Surrey to Kent. This means I must plan my days more thoroughly and carefully manage my diary. 

I also work at home more with greater levels of autonomy but know that my evening or weekend can change very quickly if the right property for a client becomes available – as it is then all hands to the pump to land it for them.

Life as a buying agent can be very demanding as we often work to a tight timetable, but the rewards are worth it when we deliver. My most recent exchange in Surrey was a house that was offered to us through a private network; our clients were first through the door and, subsequently, the last through the door! They had been looking for over two years before engaging with us in a very tight area, and we acquired this for them within a few months of being instructed – they totally now see the value in using a buying agent.

Of course, there are perks to the job besides the helicopter trips. I get to see the best properties my patch has to offer and get to attend extraordinary events to meet clients from all over the world. Get in touch if you would like to find out more.

What’s next for London’s prime property market?

I am often asked what the rest of 2023 could look like in terms of the market and opportunities. As experienced buying agents, we have been fortunate enough to acquire some of the most significant properties in London over the last 18 months. Due to the sensitive nature of often both the vendor and our clients, we are rarely able to discuss what we have bought. However, I can share five property-buying insights that I feel will be prevalent in the coming months.

It’s a good time to buy prime property in the capital

Despite the current climate of inflation, interest rate rises, and the prospect of a change in government, buying a prime property could still be a good option in the medium to long term.

Interest rate rises will obviously affect younger purchasers reliant on mortgages. Regarding our overall client base, I estimate that an average 60%+ (with clients spending £10m+ this figure is almost 100%) are fortunate enough not to need a mortgage when buying, so interest rates will be less harmful to them than recession and inflation. This means a housing market downturn is not going to affect older owners with more equity as much.

In addition, it could be a very good time to buy as there may be less competition from other buyers. There will be a lot of noise as to what a potential change in government may or not do and how this could affect the property market. We have seen similar cycles before, and as soon as confidence returns, the market can shift very quickly – becoming a sellers’ market again. 

Our clients look long-term when it comes to investing here. If something special becomes available now, regardless of what is happening externally, many will move ahead as something similar could be years away from becoming available. 

The popularity of turn-key homes

Our clients clearly prefer turn-key refurbished homes rather than embarking on a lengthy and expensive refurbishment project. 

Recent property purchases across our London team were refurbished and acquired discreetly through our network. Good, refurbished family houses and apartments are in greater demand now than I have seen for many years. Clients want things now and are just not wanting to wait. They just don’t have the patience and simply do not want to lose 2-3+ years of their incredibly busy lives for a refurbishment. This is why record prices are still being achieved for turn-key properties. 

London is still desirable for international buyers

The appetite for London remains strong and is still seen as one of the best places, if not the best, to live, educate children and work in the world.

The main drivers for our clients moving to the UK is typically education for their children, business and rule of law.

Security and air-conditioning are must-have items

In terms of wants, air-conditioning and security are high on the priority lists. Compared to five years ago, where 1 in 5 clients would specify air-conditioning as a nice have, it is now a must for 3-4 clients. For any ultra-high-net-worth individual, security is always a consideration. With the majority of London’s best housing stock falling straight onto the street, how best to protect a family takes precedence and will always be a key consideration. 

Prime London prices will remain strong 

The top end of the market will remain strong, particularly for good, refurbished houses and apartments. These are rare at the best of times, and I cannot see the demand for this stock weakening. Recently, a new record for a Notting Hill house was achieved because it is a good house but also refurbished. 

We expect the domestic market to soften with more stock becoming available and prices weakening – the wide-spread view is circa -10%. Mainly as the new world of interest rates is absorbed as buyers simply do not have the firepower they once had. This will have to have some effect, although we are yet to see it. We believe it will be a busier second half of the year once these factors take hold. 

Get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these insights and help to purchase the right property for your needs.

What are wealthy USA buyers looking for when purchasing a house in London?

I recently visited clients in New York to discuss opportunities and investments in the prime central London market.

The Buying Solution had a record year in 2022, our 19th year of business, and an important part of our success is overseas UHNW buyers from North America.

When I arrived in New York, it was clear that the City had undergone a significant transformation with many new buildings, parks, and other public spaces. For example, the Hudson Yards development, which opened in 2019, added a massive new complex of offices, residences, shops, and restaurants to the City’s west side. New York City has also seen improvements in transportation in recent years, with the expansion of bike lanes and the introduction of bike-sharing programs and new subway stations.

During my trip, I documented five key areas that USA buyers are considering when purchasing a house in London:

The market is in their favour

USA buyers can expect to pay less for a property in London compared with a few years ago. With stamp duty increases, Brexit and COVID, the average price for a property in central London is currently about 20 per cent below its peak in 2014. Also, in currency terms, the dollar is still relatively strong. However, buyers must act quickly to take advantage of the exchange rate.

London’s energy and culture

In a recent Financial Times article, I met with a wealthy buyer in Chiltern Firehouse – a restaurant and hotel in Marylebone. His family office was advising him to buy in Switzerland or Italy, but he sat with me, and the place was busy and vibrant. He said, “This is why I want to come to London. I may pay more tax, but life is for living”. He was right. London’s energy is difficult to beat – therefore, a move from New York to London means that a buyer does not experience a culture shock when they arrive – there is plenty to keep the family occupied. The food & beverage scene in London is second to none.

Discretion & safety

Privacy and security are top concerns for wealthy USA buyers, so features such as gated entrances, security patrols and ample outdoor lighting are some of the most essential. London is one of the safest cities in the world but security is still a concern and we have an excellent professional network to ensure our clients are comfortable with their new surroundings.

Design features

London is a design capital and is, therefore ideal for buyers looking for homes with unique architectural features, high-end finishes, and top-of-the-line appliances. In addition, design features like swimming pools, home theatres, wine cellars, private gyms, home technology and elevators feature heavily in London houses. Therefore, the types of properties desired by UHNW individuals can be found in London, if they are using the right buying agency.

Education & schools

The education system in London is strong and accommodates overseas students at both undergraduate and graduate levels. It is relatively easy to relocate to London with children of all ages and expect them to hit the ground running with their educational goals. We can also advise clients on which locations in London offer the most popular schools and then what that local housing market looks like.  

If you want to learn more about The Buying Solution and how we work with overseas buyers, please drop me a line.

What is happening with the UK land market?

As a buying agent for over 30 years, I can confirm – there is something strange going on with the UK land market!

As we witness the erosion of basic payment subsidies until they reach zero in 2027, one would expect more land to come to the market. Especially given that for many, the subsidy payments represented their profits. There should also, therefore, be less interest from potential buyers. Oddly, this is not the case.

Supply of farmland is always short, but the last 3-years have been historically low, with Farmers Weekly registering around 100,000 acres selling on the open market each year. We know there is an active private market, but supply remains historically short.

Savills have recently reported an increase to 16,700 acres being actively marketed in Q1. Strutt & Parker suggest 4,300 acres in Q1 – still very low overall levels of supply. 

On the other hand, demand seems to be growing exponentially (despite the reduced financial yield, which typically would be no more than 1-2% on the financial investment). The traditional typical buyer remains:

  1. Farmers looking to expand to spread their fixed costs and to enable them to farm more efficiently.
  2. Wealthy individuals wanting a large garden, privacy, sports, or to ‘rewild’ – even though many do not know what this actually means – but want to be seen to be doing the proper thing and give them ultimate bragging rights. 
  3. Canny individuals wanting to benefit from the inheritance tax savings available through Agricultural Property Relief.
  4. Equally canny individuals hedging against inflation. Land prices have performed exceptionally well recently and in the very long term.
  5. Roll-over buyers postponing payment of Capital Gains Tax. We all know that farmers who sell land for development will always want to buy more land because it is what they love and understand – these buyers are focused and determined as they have a 3-year window to roll over their gain before paying tax.
  6. Investors and developers keen to grow houses or enter the ever-growing renewables market.

There is new breed of buyer in town

From November 2023, any developer developing a site of more than 10 houses or an area of more than 0.5 hectares will have to leave the site in a 10% better condition (in terms of biodiversity) than before their development started.  

The priority is to achieve an ‘on-site’ solution, but if this is not possible, the developer can use ‘off-site’ land to achieve this improvement goal. This has already led to developers, investors and even local authorities purchasing land with a view to helping developers to achieve their Biodiversity Net Gain targets.

Global warming has created opportunities for landowners to assist with carbon sequestration. This has attracted forward-thinking individuals, investors and businesses interested in the potential future value of carbon capture and the potential for the sale of carbon credits.

It isn’t proving easy to read the tea leaves as to the future of land values

We would expect the supply of land to increase as many farmers finally realise it is time to call it a day. With the reduction in subsidy payments, those not prepared to or able to invest or innovate will find making a profit increasingly difficult – in addition, they can currently benefit by taking retirement and utilising the lump sum payments for the last remaining years of the Basic Payment Scheme

The question remains – how much supply will increase, and how much the current huge demand will be able to absorb?

Land prices have reached the highest levels yet seen, with average arable prices of between £10,000 – £12,000 per acre, with figures in excess of £15,000 per acre being paid in special cases.

No doubt the outcome will gradually play out over the next 3 or 4 years – one thing we do know about land is that they aren’t making any more of it, and every English man loves his castle. Get in touch if you would like to carry on the conversation.

Things to consider before buying a listed property

Buying a house can be daunting and stressful at the best of times, but what if your dream home came with the responsibility of owning a piece of Britain’s history? For nearly half a million home owners in the UK this is a reality if they own a listed building, in other words, a building that has been judged to be of national importance  for its architectural or historic interest.

Whether it’s a chocolate box cottage, a city town house or a sprawling country estate, the joys of owning a small part of our heritage can be immensely satisfying and rewarding. Listed homes are usually lovely to look at and are – full of character and history – this is what attracts people to them in the first place. There can, however, be downsides.  Here are some key points to consider before buying a listed building.

1. Love what you see

Make sure you really like what is there when you purchase as you may be stuck with it. If you are  considering making changes after you purchase,  make sure to consult a seasoned architect or planning advisor who is used to dealing with listed buildings and has a good relationship with the Conservation Officer within the Council.

The law requires that listed building consent be granted by the local planning authority in conjunction with English Heritage for any alterations which affect the character of the listed building. The controls don’t normally extend to replacing the bathroom suite or kitchen units but most other alterations will require consent. If in doubt, speak to the Listed Property Owners Club, your local planning authority or your dedicated buying agent.

2. Alterations are difficult but not always impossible

Remember, it is often easier to make additions to listed houses than to remove or change anything existing. Adding an extension or indoor pool which doesn’t alter the main property is likely to be easier than removing an original feature, however small, even if it’s a fireplace or internal wall. If a feature is specifically mentioned in the official listing document, you haven’t got much of a chance in changing it, so check this very carefully (these can be found online here).

Grade I and II* are the higher grades which represent only the top 7% of listed buildings. Most buildings are listed Grade II. If you apply for listed building consent to make alterations, greater weight will be given to preserving the architectural and historic significance of the more highly graded buildings. English Heritage will also be consulted on these applications. It’s worth bearing in mind that all buildings are listed with a view to preserving their character, whatever the grade.

3. Beware of historic work on the property

Check the building’s listing date and any works carried out by the current or previous owners since that date have been done correctly, with appropriate listed building consent and, if relevant, planning permission. If the property does not correspond exactly with the approved plans on the consents, you as the new owner may be the one who has to reinstate any previous works. Beware of Enforcement Action.

There is no time limit to when a local planning authority can require unauthorised alterations to be reversed. It goes without saying that you need to be very cautious if you suspect alterations have been made without consent.

When a building is listed the whole building is protected, inside and outside. In fact, statutory protection extends to the building itself, anything attached to the building and any building within the curtilage of the building. If it transpires unauthorised changes have been made to the property by a previous owner, this may have an impact on you being able to mortgage the property and insure it.  

4. Think seasonal

If you’re buying in the summer, make sure the property is going to be warm enough in the winter. Old windows can often be drafty and gaining consent for double glazing is usually not possible

5. Make sure you’re covered

Be prepared for larger insurance premiums if the property is listed similar to if it is thatched. With any insurance quotes you get, make sure you read the policy and check exactly what you will be insured for as many people make the mistake of being under insured A policy obtained from an online comparison site is unlikely to be sufficient. Check that the provider will cover the full cost of a rebuild to the conservation officer’s standards should the situation arise.

The Listed Property Owners’ Club is Britain’s only advice service dedicated to helping members get the most from their homes by providing detailed guidance, information and support for just about every conceivable issue associated with ownership.

A reputable buying agent will have good knowledge of these issues and make introductions to appropriate experts prior to purchasing to avoid clients inheriting these problems.

The Buying Solution’s team has over 200 years of collective experience in purchasing listed buildings, we pride ourselves on giving our clients the best advice which is part of our winning edge in ensuring they buy the right property for their needs.

Mark Lawson MRICS


Telephone: +44 1488 607444

Mobile: +44 7721 894347

The Buying Solution team have hand-picked their favourite activities in London and the countryside for this spooky season.



  • Biscuiteers are hosting spook-tacular biscuit icing events in both Belgravia and Notting Hill this half term (SW1W or W11)
  • Try your trick or treating luck on a walk from Abbotsbruy Road to Ilchester Place (W14).
  • Chelsea Phsyic Garden are running a few family friendly events over half term; including pumpkin carving, broomstick making and a wild immersive theatre experience (SW3).
  • Or head to Chiswick House and Gardens for a spooky fun-filled trail for all the family – new for 2022 (W4).


  • Halloween at the Tower of London (EC3N) follow in the footsteps of their infamous prisoners as you wander the Tower grounds at the spookiest time of the year.
  • Hard Rock Cafe (W1K) are hosting a ‘Lil’ Monstars Halloween Breakfast’ on Sunday, 30th October.
  • Head over to the London Transport museum (WC2E) for a host of half term adventures, including a bat-tastic craft workshop and a trail through all of London’s historic transportation.
  • Cupcake baking has had a spooky makeover at Sauce by The Langham (W1B). Children aged between 4-10 can learn key techniques and an understanding of the fundamentals of baking.


  • One of the most famous streets in London for celebrating Halloween is Hamilton Terrace (NW8). Wander the length of this terrifying terrace, carry on through Carlton Hill and Clifton Hill for a prime Trick or Treating location.
  • Famed for the Jonathan Ross Halloween party, take a spooky stroll up Hampstead Way for a look at some incredible Halloween-ey houses (NW11).
  • St John’s Wood is the home of the American School in London; you’ll be sure to find all sorts of ghouls and ghosts around Waverley Place on the 31st October. (NW8)
  • Primrose Hill’s (NW3) spooky stroll – start at Chalcot Square and head down Chalcot Road, Fitzroy road and the surrounding areas.
  • Join a host of creepy characters around Lauderdale House and Waterlow Park(N6) at the most sinister time of the year.
  • Don’t forget the older children: try The Stranger Things Experience (NW2) where they can be the hero of their own story alongside their favourite characters.

South & South West

  • Clapham Old Town is a great trick or treating spot south of the river. Head down Orlando Road (SW4) to marvel some of London’s best dressed houses.
  • Follow Positively Putney’s tick or treat trail with all the family (SW15).
  • The Backyard Cinema have a host of Halloween films to watch this half term at the UK’s most magical cinema (SW18).
  • Kew Gardens’ Mexican-themed festival, the Mexico Family Fiesta, runs during the month of October and includes dance workshops, a chance to dress up, and parades, all ahead of Day of the Dead on November 2nd (TW9).


  • Berkeley Castle Ghoul School (Gloucestershire) a fun, interactive audio extravaganza for all the family to enjoy, set in a glorious medieval fortress.
  • The Watercress Line (Hampshire), a family friendly steam train experience hosting Wizard Week from 24th-30th October.
  • Rogate Pumpkin Patch (Hampshire) – a wonderful day out for visitors of all ages. This sustainable and authentic experience features themed areas such as Dracula’s Estate and Merlin’s wood. (14th-30th October)
  • Painshill Park’s (Surrey) Fairy Door Trail – wooden fairy doors are hidden around the woodlands and lake for you and your family to find.
  • Blenheim Palace’s (Oxfordshire) after dark trail is a spooky, fun-filled Halloween adventure. Be prepared to wind your way through the illuminated haunted woods filled with creepy neon cobwebs, ghastly ghouls, wicked witches, larger-than life spiders and beastly bats.
  • Hatfield House (Hertfordshire) is a short drive from London. Although they state they are keeping it ‘humble’ this half term, they promise a few surprises along the way. The Parks and Garden’s will be open from 22nd-30th October. Their park trailer rides will be open on the hour from 11am-3pm.

Just remember, only trick or treat the houses with Halloween decorations.

Tarte Aux Pomme

Giles’ apple tart is the perfect way to use up any fallen apples you have left over, or to create the perfect warming pudding for friends and family as we now enter into the Autumn months.


250g of Puff Pastry

Apples (roughly 6 depending on the size of your apples)

1 lemon juiced

2 tbsp caster sugar (reduce if you would like it to be less sweet/caramelised)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp butter


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Spread the shortcrust pastry onto a dish, prick the bottom with a fork and store in the fridge.

Peel the apples, remove the core and cut them into thin slices.

Melt the butter in a saucepan then pour it over the apples in a bowl.

Add the sugar to the cinnamon and mix the apples by hand so that they are perfectly coated.

Arrange the apples on the pastry.

Put in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

If you can, leave to cool before tasting.