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June 30, 2023
Jeremy McGivern
Posted in: Luxury real estate London

5 Essential Considerations When Buying Chelsea Houses

Chelsea Houses | 

Chelsea is one of the most famous and popular areas of London. Nevertheless, it is essential that you are very selective when buying Chelsea houses otherwise you will make an expensive mistake.


Here are 5 essential factors that you must consider when looking for Chelsea Houses:


  1. Chelsea is quite a large and diverse area which spans the postcodes SW3 and SW10.

    If you don’t know the area well, you need to decide which parts are best for you. On the whole, SW10 is less expensive as it is further west and the transport links are not as good.

However, the desirability of Chelsea houses can also vary dramatically even in streets that are very close to Sloane Square. There are the obvious streets including Wellington Square, Carlyle Square, Markham Square, Cadogan Square and St Leonard’s Terrace which are quiet and benefit from the square gardens or, in the case of St Leonard’s Terrace, views over the grounds of Burton Court.

But you must also be aware of the streets where there are issues. Some of these may be less obvious at first sight. For example, the District Line on the underground is actually not very deep at all and there are several houses in Chelsea that are affected by this. In the worst instances the houses vibrate, but the issue can also be less obvious (but still very irritating), so ask the estate agents about this and also spend at least ten minutes in the house (on the ground floor) as trains can be sporadic depending on the time of day.

In short, I advise all my clients to avoid houses that are affected by the underground lines.


  1. Chelsea houses tend to be freehold.

    However, some are leasehold. I would avoid Chelsea houses that are leasehold unless they are “enfranchiseable”. This is just the technical term used to describe houses where you have a legal right to acquire the freehold.

If you can acquire the freehold then the house could still be a good opportunity. But it is essential that you seek specialist advice on the cost of “enfranchising”. The mistake that most buyers make is that they underestimate the cost and therefore pay too much for the lease of the house.

Conversely, you can miss out on a great opportunity because you think the enfranchisement will cost more than it actually will or that the process is too complicated. However, if you have reliable, experienced advisers it is not as daunting as it may at first seem.


  1. There is an extraordinarily wide variety of architecture

    – the Old Rectory on Old Church Street is the biggest house in the area with a huge ballroom and large grounds. Indeed, there are several large houses that date back centuries.

Some houses are listed. This basically means that they are of historical/architectural interest and the listing places restrictions on what alterations you can make. So, you need to have a very clear understanding of what you can and can’t do. If you are planning to open up multiple rooms, you may find that you are not allowed to take down the walls.

Of course, you may take the view that no-one will know as it is your home, but there are two important factors to consider. Firstly it is a criminal offence. While it is unlikely you will go to prison, you can be fined and made to reinstate whatever changes you have made.

Secondly, when you decide to sell the property, it will be clear that you have not received the permission for the changes and the buyer’s solicitor will advise their client not to buy the property. Please note that there is no time frame after which the authorities cannot fine you/force you to reinstate the changes.

Even if the property is not listed there are rules on what you can do, so if you are planning to undertake building work, please ensure you seek expert advice before you put forward an offer and definitely before exchanging contracts.

Just as an example, I was talking yesterday to a client whose neighbour had paid a premium for a house that had been recently developed but now doesn’t like it because she has discovered that she cannot extend the roof terrace as she had thought.


  1. Valuation of Chelsea Houses

    – because of the difference in streets and style of architecture you must ensure you understand what prices have been achieved for other properties that are accurate comparators.

One of the biggest mistake people make when buying Chelsea houses is to compare apples with oranges. Prices of freehold houses in Chelsea at the time of writing can vary from £1200 per square foot to over £3,000 per square foot.

The problem is that price per square foot valuation is a very blunt instrument. You have to factor in the width of the house, size of the garden, ceiling heights, style of architecture, the street, position within the street, parking and quality of the décor to name just a few factors.

It is essential that you understand what affects valuations. If you don’t, can you really expect to make an intelligent decision?


  1. The role of the estate agent

    – this is a point I repeat ad nauseam, but I make no apology because it is so important. The estate agent is legally obliged to achieve the highest price possible for their client, the seller. You the buyer are not their client and you are referred to as an “applicant”.

Indeed, the agents’ role is not even to find you the best property your money can buy. It is simply to sell any one of their clients’ properties to any buyer they have registered… and for the highest price possible. Please remember this when they are giving you their views on valuations.

The estate agents can also only sell properties on which they are directly instructed. And the agents openly admit that at least 25% of Chelsea houses are sold off-market, so they don’t appear on the websites.

In other words, you need to be in contact with all the estate agents in Chelsea if you want to have total market coverage to find the best property your money can buy.


Chelsea Houses


Chelsea houses are highly sought after but you need to ensure that you have total market coverage, understand valuations and the houses you should avoid, if you want to find the best property your money can buy and acquire it for the lowest price possible.

Unfortunately, the majority of buyers fail to follow these steps and buy an average or poor property and massively overpay too. If you would like to avoid the same fate, you can discover the tested and proven strategies I have been using for over 20 years to help my clients find the best opportunities and acquire them at prices they didn’t think possible.

Simply request a free copy of my book, The Insider’s guide To Acquiring £1m to £100m Property in London, by clicking here, emailing dee@mercuryhomesearch.com or calling 02034578855 (+442304578855 from outside the UK).

About the author, Jeremy McGivern

My name is Jeremy McGivern. I am the founder of Mercury Homesearch, the internationally renowned property search consultancy, and author of The Insider’s Guide To Acquiring Luxury Property in Prime Central London. I have been acquiring property in prime central London for clients for over 13 years.

Having physically viewed over 22,000 properties in prime central London, studied the details of over 153,400 apartments, houses and investment opportunities and spoken to 232+ estate agents every week for over a decade.

My advice is in high demand and has featured everywhere from Bloomberg Television, The Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph to Forbes India and Bahrain Confidential.

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