The Buying Solution in The Times

Harry Gladwin of The Buying Solution speaks to Melissa York of The Times on the consideration of new build properties v’s older properties.

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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.

The Buying Solution in The Telegraph

Jonathan Bramwell of The Buying Solution speaks to Anna White of The Telegraph on Britain’s 50 best streets and the sought-after addresses to know about.

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The Buying Solution in The Telegraph

Jemma Scott of The Buying Solution speaks to Arabella Youens on tech hubs driving the property markets in the Oxford / Boars Hill area.

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The Buying Solution in Bloomberg

Will Watson of The Buying Solution speaks to Sarah Rappaport of Bloomberg on historic office properties being turned into luxury apartments.

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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.

The Buying Solution in The Telegraph

Mark Lawson of The Buying Solution speaks to Alexandra Goss of The Telegraph on how to renovate a listed house.

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The Buying Solution in The Times

Jonathan Bramwell of The Buying Solution speaks to Hugh Graham of The Times on when is the right time to purchase a property.

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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.

The Buying Solution in The Telegraph

Mark Lawson of The Buying Solution speaks to Alexandra Goss of The Telegraph on what it’s like to live on a British Island.

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