A London house in Be/gravia

LONDON OVERVIEW

Why is London such a great place to live, and what makes London property so attractive as an investment?

London is one of the greatest cities in the world. It is global and welcomes everyone. London is the most diverse and cosmopolitan capital worldwide. It encourages diversity that will enrich its society.

This diversity plays a vital role in attracting people and businesses to the capital. London has a progressive attitude towards business to entice, nurture and retain the best talent from all over the world.

The Global Financial Centres Index rates cities on their competitiveness in the financial sector. London consistently ranks in the top 3 of “the most powerful financial centres globally”. Retaining the number 1 spot in 2015 and keeping it since. The capital has maintained its premier position despite the recent uncertainty over leaving the EU. The index considers infrastructure, business environment, human capital, financial sector development and reputation to give a balanced assessment. London’s reputation as the most influential financial centre also attracts the best talent, which self-perpetuates its authority on the world stage.

Attracting global talent

London excels and attracts global talent, not just in banking, finance, and business. It has become the most important tech centre outside San Francisco in recent years. In addition, the UK is now positioning itself to become one of the most important scientific and medical research centres.

There are very few other cities that rival London in the creative industries. London and the UK are pioneers in media, music and fashion.

In the same way, London also leads the way in entertainment, nightlife, culture, food and art. Some of the best shopping experiences worldwide are in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Chelsea.
In addition, education is also a top-rated attraction, with English being the most popular business language worldwide.

Quick guide to the history

London’s rich history dates back over 2000 years to Roman times. Some of the oldest buildings and landmarks are as early as the 1st and 2nd Centuries. However, most residential property was built in the Victorian and Edwardian periods around the mid 19th Century and early 20th Century. In the 1920s, the Art Deco style became popular and later developed into Modernism in the pre-war period of the 1930s.

The capital was heavily bombed during the Second World War, which resulted in large Central and East London areas being razed to the ground. In the decades after the war, new buildings emerged from the ruins. The new buildings created a stark contrast in architectural styles adding interest to the neighbourhoods. The ’50s and ’60s saw the introduction of concrete tower blocks and high-density estates. The ’70s and ’80s was a period of modernisation and regeneration that continues today. Some of London’s most expensive property stands on the former sites of old commercial buildings.

London property buying guide

With so much to consider and such a wide choice of property styles buying London property can seem daunting. In Zone 1, the prices currently range from £800/sqft to over £11,000/sqft. As a result, knowing what and where to buy at any specific time is essential.

Different buyers face different problems. Anyone living in London will already be familiar with the areas. It will simply be a choice between smaller and more central or larger and further out. Not such a hard decision, but then factor in commuting and schools, and it starts to get complicated. In addition to this, there are an estimated 1200 estate agents in Central London alone. Some areas have as many as 60 in a single postcode. Looking for a property in London can be very time consuming even when you live here.

There are three tiers to the London property market;

1) Open Market – Property advertised on websites and available to anyone
2) Discreetly Marketed – Usually by estate agents who only contact their trusted buyers
3) Off Market – Properties that are usually sourced directly from the vendor (Off-market will vary depending on who you speak with. Read our Guide to Buying Off Market property to avoid costly mistakes and overpaying)

The London property market

Unfortunately, the average member of the public will not have access to the whole market. They will only see a small percentage of property available. In some areas of Prime Central London, as much as 50% of transactions are either off-market or pre-market. The majority of these transactions are through a buying agent or property finder.

As if these issues were not enough to contend with, buying from overseas is even more complicated. Not knowing the areas often leads to buying in the wrong location for your objectives. Having limited market knowledge on property prices can also create problems. London is a very price-sensitive market. The best property at the right price always sells fast. It can be very frustrating for overseas buyers who only fly over to view a specific property to find it sold. Therefore, most overseas buyers usually appoint a buying agent to represent their interests in London. A good buying agent will advise on location and prices, then search all options to access the whole market.

London area guide

The location is always a high priority for any property buyer. The most desirable areas of London are central and surrounding the lower half of Hyde Park. This area is commonly known as Prime Central London. Then Prime London occupies the areas north of Hyde Park, and the Prime Fringes surround both Prime Central and Prime.

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