Can a foreigner buy a house in London? |
Almost anyone can buy a house in London.
You can be from any country in the world and legally acquire a property in London and you don’t have to be a UK resident either. In fact, I occasionally acquire properties for clients who never even see the property – it is purely an investment – although most of my clients do, unsurprisingly, prefer to see the properties first.
Indeed, one of the many attractions for foreign buyers is the fact that the UK has very strong property rights which effectively mean that you can buy a property without any concerns about it being “forcefully” taken from you – either by the government as a whole or a politician who might have a grudge against you, etc.
THERE ARE TWO MAIN EXCEPTIONS TO THIS:
Firstly, if there is a major infrastructure improvement taking place, e.g. the HS2 rail line, the government can issue a Compulsory Purchase Order. These are very, very rare in London & the UK as a whole and the government has to pay you market value for the property. So, it can’t simply be taken from you.
Secondly, if you are a criminal who has used illicit funds to acquire the property, then the government can seize the property. This is true whether you are British or foreign. Ultimately, this is good news assuming you are not a criminal…
Foreign buyers can also get mortgages on London property. You won’t have quite as much choice as a UK buyer but there is still a huge range of banks that will lend to you, so it is important that you speak to a reliable mortgage broker who has plenty of experience sourcing mortgages for foreign buyers (If you need recommendations for good mortgage brokers, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org).
What should foreigners consider when looking to buy a house in London?
These are just a few key things you need to consider:
- Should you buy a leasehold or freehold property? Most foreign buyers don’t understand the leasehold system in the UK, so immediately decide that they should only buy freehold or share of freehold properties in London. This is a mistake as you will unnecessarily be missing out on great opportunities. It is essential that you understand leasehold properties.
- Where are the best areas? I am afraid I’m going to give you a dreadful answer – it depends… and it really does, because while many people will say Belgravia, Mayfair or Knightsbridge, you can ask others who will tell you Kensington, Notting Hill, Chelsea, etc. In short, there are many excellent areas to live in London, but it depends on what you really want. For example, if it is a wide, low built house with a large garden, then Mayfair is not for you.
So you need to be very clear on what are the most important factors for you before you decide on which areas you should focus on. What do you really want? You will waste a huge amount of time if you are not clear on this.
- Do you understand the role of estate agents? This is a point I repeat but it is really important. Estate agents are paid by the sellers. Their role is not to find you your ideal home or investment. Their job is to sell any one of their clients’ properties to any buyer for the HIGHEST PRICE POSSIBLE. You are not their client. They work in direct conflict with what you are trying to achieve. Legally, they are not supposed to lie to you. However, would it be unfair to say that it is easy to manipulate data to make properties look better value than they may actually be? Please keep this in mind. Which brings me to point 4.
- How will you avoid making an expensive mistake? You could choose a property that will underperform the market, there could be a “hidden” issue which you don’t know because you don’t have local knowledge, it could be a less desirable street in what is otherwise a good area. Conversely, how will you ensure that you are not missing out on the best opportunities?
- Do you know how to value London property? I am not an expert in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore or European property to name but a few locations. But I am told by my clients, who come from all over the world, that the London property market is the most complicated from a valuation perspective as there are so many variables, with prices often varying dramatically within streets let alone different areas. It is essential that you develop a clear understanding of values.
- Do you know how to negotiate on London property?
- What professionals do you need to help you? At the simplest level, you must have a good solicitor and surveyor. They must both be highly experienced in dealing with properties in prime central London. If you use someone who isn’t then the chances of a successful transaction fall considerably.
In reality, you need other people on your buying team to ensure a successful transaction, but again the extent of your team depends on your particular situation and requirements.
This is far from an exhaustive list of what you need to consider as a foreign buyer. Indeed, some of the points I make above may seem simple, but it is amazing how poorly prepared many buyers are – British as well as foreigners.
As a buyer you have two main goals – to find the best property that your money can buy and to then acquire it for the lowest price/best terms possible. The majority of buyers fail to achieve both goals.
So, if you would like to make a great property purchase and avoid the seven most expensive mistakes foreign buyers make, you can request a complimentary copy of my book, The Insider’s Guide To Acquiring £1m to £100m Property in London, by clicking here.
The book reveals the tested & proven strategies and tactics that I have been using for over twenty years to acquire some of the finest properties in London at prices that my clients didn’t think possible.
So simply click here to request the book or if you would prefer to discuss your plans to buy a house in London, you can request a complimentary Strategy Call by clicking here or you can call 02034578855 (+442034578855 from outside the UK).