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.
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