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Your handy checklist for buying a home in London

Mar 24, 2022
Your handy checklist for buying a home in London

World-famous landmarks. Amazing attractions. Great job opportunities. There are thousands of reasons why London is such a wonderful city to call home. If you’re thinking about buying in London, we’ve put together a handy 5-point checklist to help.

1. Work out your budget

With London property prices what they are, it’s important to get a good idea of what you can afford right from the start. This is equally true whether you’re a first-time buyer or an existing homeowner.

You’ll need to do your sums and work out what sort of deposit you can pull together, as well as how much you’ll be comfortable paying back each month on a mortgage.

Remember to factor in other costs of moving too, such as:

  • Conveyancing fees
  • Property survey
  • Hiring a removals company
  • Packing materials
  • New furniture

Stamp Duty is another expense to bear in mind when buying in London. It’s a tax payable by existing homeowners when buying any property over £125,000 in England. First-time buyers in London will pay no Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 of their property purchase. You can find all the latest information on Stamp Duty in our handy guide.

See our Stamp Duty guide >

2. Get your deposit together

As a general rule, the more you can save for a deposit the better. You may be able to get some support from parents or relatives, in addition to the savings you already have.

If you are able to save a bigger deposit – for example, 15% or 20% – you’ll find you probably have access to a greater number of mortgage options and more competitive rates.

Saving for a deposit can be tricky, which is why Barratt London has a range of offers to help you make your city move, including:

London Help to Buy

A Government-backed scheme for first-time buyers, it could help you buy a home sooner than you think with a deposit of just 5%.

Learn more about London Help to Buy >

Deposit Unlock

For both first-time buyers and existing homeowners, it can help you access competitively priced mortgage products with a deposit of just 5% on selected new-build homes.

Learn more about Deposit Unlock >

There is a range of other offers worth investigating too.

Discover all Barratt London offers >

3. Find your part of London

London is a big, multi-cultural and exciting place – and every borough and neighbourhood has its own distinct character. To narrow down a shortlist you’re going to need to ask yourself what matters most – and probably make some compromises. For instance, if being in Zone 1 or 2 is a must, you may have to look at smaller properties.

There are a whole host of things you may need to think about.

Areas you already know and like

If you’ve been living in London before buying, it’s likely you’ve already formed impressions of areas you like and don’t like. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it can still be worth exploring new areas when you’re looking for your next home. You may unearth places you find you love even more, or perhaps discover a good value postcode that ticks all your important boxes.

Entertainment and nightlife

While Central London and the West End is world-famous for its theatres, restaurants, bars, museums and nightlife there is still plenty going on in different parts of the city. It may even be you prefer a quieter, residential area but still want the option of taking a direct train to catch a show whenever you feel like it.

The pandemic has changed a great deal about how we live and work. If you need to be in the office every day of the week, commute time is likely to be a key consideration. If you’re working remotely, at least some of the time, you may be willing to accept a longer commute in exchange for more space and/or better value.

Style of architecture and properties

From traditional Victorian terraces to interwar council flats to shiny new-build apartments, London has all kinds of properties from all sorts of periods. While a lot will depend on your own tastes, it is worth bearing in mind that modern housing generally offers better energy efficiency, making bills lower.

How long you plan on living in the property

Life changes, so what is right for you today may not be what you want tomorrow. While nobody knows exactly what the future holds, it is worth thinking about your longer-term plans. For example, if you’d like to have children in the next few years then space and proximity to schools might be a factor. On the other hand, if you know that’s not on the agenda – or you’re happy to move if it is – you may choose to prioritise your social and cultural life instead.

Access to parks and green space

London has many famous world-famous parks and also ranks as the UK’s top city for green spaces.1 It even has its own signature tree – the London plane that is commonly found on the Capital’s leafy avenues and streets.

If being close to nature is important to you, you may choose to live close to breathtaking open places like Hampstead Heath, Richmond Park and the Lea Valley. You might even opt to live somewhere like our Ridgeway Views development where you can enjoy the best of both lifestyles – countryside air and views while still being close to all the attractions of Central London.

Regeneration plans and investment potential

An exciting thing about London is that it’s constantly evolving. New areas often find new leases of life and savvy homebuyers can take advantage of major regeneration and infrastructure schemes – like Crossrail – to find a great place to live that also makes an attractive investment.

You can find out more and discover our latest regeneration developments by clicking below.

Barratt and regeneration >

Whether you’re drawn to the north, west or south of the city you’ll find equally exciting new developments in places like Acton, Hendon, Hounslow and Harrow. Designed to deliver the best in modern city living, they’re all within easy reach of the attractions of the West End and London’s iconic financial district.

Barratt London can help you find the area and home you’re looking for.

Find that new home feeling >

4. Decide on your property type

From a cosy 1-bed studio to a spacious 4-bed apartment, what type of home you buy will be influenced by how much space you need and what you can afford. At some point, you will also want to decide whether you’d prefer to live in an old or new property.

Buying old

With original features, some people are drawn to the character of older homes. However, they may need significant modernisation and prove costly if you discover that you need to upgrade the wiring, fit a new heating system or install damp proofing. The layout may also be ill-suited to how we use space and live in the 21st century.

Buying new

Brand-new homes often include great space-saving features like clever built-in storage. Other advantages include:

  • Fitted kitchens and bathrooms including integrated appliances
  • Layouts that are designed for modern living e.g. open-plan kitchens
  • Highly-efficient insulation and enhanced double-glazing to make them more energy-efficient with lower running costs
  • Safety features such as modern circuit breakers, smoke alarms and locks
  • Fast WIFI and conveniently-located sockets
  • Less maintenance required

In addition, buying a brand-new home with Barratt London comes with the peace of mind of a ten-year NHBC Buildmark Warranty.

See the benefits of buying new >

5. Make your London move

Buying a home in London is largely the same as buying elsewhere in the UK. (You can read our guide here). There are however a few London-specific considerations it’s worth bearing in mind.

Things in London move fast

With a dynamic property market, you may need to make decisions faster in London than you would elsewhere in the UK. While that doesn’t mean you should ever feel rushed into a decision if you do find something you know you really love it’s probably best not to hang about.

There’s an art to buying and you may have to act quickly, particularly if the home you like has other admirers. When push comes to shove, you have to weigh up how much you want the place with how much you can realistically afford.

Remember, the estate agent is legally bound to take any offer to the seller, so if you sense that they might be willing to bargain, there’s no harm in trying.

Getting a London property survey

Buying a London home is a significant outlay, and a full survey is usually recommended to help determine whether it’s problem-free. With issues like damp, flash flooding, cladding, subsidence and even Japanese knotweed prevalent in London it’s often worth paying for a survey now to provide the reassurance that your move is a sound one.

These are the 4 different types of survey levels:

  • Valuation Report – required by all mortgage lenders to confirm that the value of the property is sufficient to cover the loan
  • Home Condition Report – this focuses on areas such as the roof, walls, windows, floors and stairs. A clear traffic light rating system helps you identify any potential issues.
  • Home Buyer’s Report – providing more thorough information on the fabric of the property, it highlights any defects or problems that may affect the value.
  • Building Survey – Often recommended for very old or run down properties. A more extensive survey of a home’s construction and condition, it also reveals how the property has been built and the materials used.

Finding a London removals firm

With congestion zones, small streets and lots of traffic to contend with, many people understandably opt against simply hiring a large van and doing it themselves when the time comes to actually make their London move.

The advantage of London is you’re likely to have plenty of options when it comes to finding a removals company. The downside is costs can be higher in the Capital and you do need to take extra care that the company you appoint is a good one. When looking for a London removals company ask some key questions:

  • Is it a member of the British Association of Removers?
  • Does it have good independent reviews?
  • Is it well-established?
  • Does it offer a packing service?

It’s a good idea to get quotes 4 to 6 weeks before you plan to move. And don’t forget the packing boxes – you’ll probably need more than you think.

Barratt London is here to help you

Moving home can seem complicated but having practical information at your fingertips whenever you need it can really help smooth the way.

See our Step-By-Step Guide To The House Buying Process >

Buying a London property is genuinely exciting. It’s a unique milestone in life and nothing quite compares to stepping into a beautiful new home in one of the world’s great cities.

We’re here to help you take that step and embrace all the good things that London living has to offer.

Start your search now >

1 The Greenest Cities Mapped – Essential Living