Congratulations! You’ve decided to move to (or relocate within) London, one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. As Dr Johnson once remarked, “..when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Whether you prefer to spend your weekends getting your culture fix at an art exhibition, eating your way through an international food market, or relaxing with friends in one of several world-famous parks, the city has it all. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it can be notoriously tricky to find the perfect property, particularly if you’re new to the city. Demand is high and the market moves at warp speed. A reasonably priced property in an up-and-coming neighbourhood can be listed and let all within a matter of hours. But have no fear, we’ve pooled our collective wisdom into this guide to help you navigate the process like a seasoned Londoner.
Know Your Boroughs
Research is essential. London is a vast metropolis divided up into 33 boroughs, each with its own unique character. You’re going to need to know the lay of the land before you deep dive into your property search. There are various tools at your disposal to help with your search:
- Our area guides! Browse through our collection of local guides, compiled with the help of our Sales Associates.
- Apps such as Citymapper are useful for working out travel routes and transit times from point A to B across London. You can use these apps to work out which neighbourhoods are the most commutable from your workplace(or where you would like to work)and tailor your search accordingly.
- Hit the streets and visit. Ultimately, no amount of online research can help you learn more about a place than if you visit in person. Write a wish list of everything you want from a neighbourhood (foodie hotspot, live music venues, good schools, whatever it might be), shortlist the boroughs that fit the bill, and then go and see for yourself if the reality meets your expectations. -
- Give us a call! Unlike traditional high street agents, we operate on a London-wide basis from one central location. We also use sophisticated data analytics to match applicants to our properties. Speak to our Sales Associates about your property criteria, and they can help direct you to any number of properties in different areas which best serve your needs while providing a general overview of the areas they’re recommending.
Calculate the Costs
It happens to the best of us: beguiled by the city and all it has to offer, you can radically underestimate the cost of living to justify being right in the thick of it. Try to resist. It pays, literally, to be realistic about your budget. There’s little point living in Hoxton for the nightlife if you can’t afford entry to the venues. Your quality of life in the long term will be far better if you don’t stretch yourself too thin covering living costs. Do a thorough audit of your monthly expenditures and be firm about what you can and cannot afford. As with location, research is also essential for calculating your costs. In addition to your monthly rent, you also need to consider your council tax band, utilities, transport, and any up-front moving fees. Council tax rates can vary considerably between different local authorities in the city, so bear this in mind when narrowing down your search. You can also get a sense of your monthly spend on utilities by reviewing the EPC on any property that catches your eye. This should tell you the average annual cost of gas, electricity, and heating.
The most logical place to begin your search is using the two main property portals, Zoopla and Rightmove. Most properties on the market will be listed here and you can utilise their user-friendly custom search tools to refine your results.While Zoopla and Rightmove are both excellent resources, it also helps to take a proactive approach and view agent websites directly and give them a call about your property search. Our Sales Associates are always happy to help, and our London-wide approach means they likely have two or three properties across the city that fit your criteria.
Make Friends and Influence People
Canvas any number of randomly selected strangers for their opinion on lettings agents and one thing should become abundantly clear –we’re pretty unpopular. However, a good lettings agent can be an invaluable asset in your property search. If you establish a good rapport with your agent, you’ll be the first applicant they call when a new property lands on their desk. Be responsive, courteous, and friendly in your correspondence, and don’t be late for viewings. Be nice to your agent and you can jump the queue when a new property hits the market.
Keep an Open Mind
Given the cutthroat nature of the London property market, casting the widest possible net during your search is one way to minimise disappointment. While you will inevitably come to prefer some neighbourhoods to others, keep your mind open to the possibility that the perfect property might be on the market elsewhere. There are hidden gems to be found in every borough, and provided a property is good value and the commute is reasonable,you shouldn’t dismiss it because the location isn’t your first choice. Again, this is where Home Made’s unique London-wide approach can be of great use to you as a flat-hunter. Call us to enquire on one property, and we can offer you multiple comparable options in areas you might not have even considered!