Read our blog post for our advice on buying in London - everything you need to know.
Our advice on buying a property in London
The UK's capital is widely regarded as one of the world's most exciting cities. In addition to being a major global centre for business, it is a vibrant international hub for media, fashion and the arts. Its population is cosmopolitan and diverse, with people of many different cultures living side by side.
While London's economy is now predominantly service based, business and finance being the largest sectors, it also has dynamic (though comparatively small) manufacturing and construction industries. Tourism, too, plays a key role. As home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a multitude of other attractions, the city is on the ‘must-see' list of visitors from around the world. Tourist numbers are set to increase dramatically when London hosts the Olympic Games in 2012.
Types of property
Whatever your taste in property, London is pretty well bound to be able to satisfy it. From new purpose-built apartments to imaginative conversions of period buildings (the fashionable lofts of the former Docklands warehouses and the mews properties of Central London being well-known examples) and large Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses, it's all there.
Overall, London properties are the most expensive in the UK, though there is a huge disparity between prices in different parts of the capital. A shortage of supply in relation to demand looks likely to ensure continued price growth.
With many people unable to afford a home of their own and an influx of workers from the new EU member countries needing accommodation, London's buy-to-let market is booming. As always, it's important to choose your area carefully, with an eye to local facilities, especially transport and schools.
Popular buying locations
The London of today grew from a number of originally separate communities, which, as they expanded, became joined together. The city still retains echoes of its past, each area having its own distinct character and hence appealing to different types of purchaser.
In recent years, East London has become a hotspot for owner/occupiers and investors alike. A process of gentrification, which began some years ago in traditional East End areas close to the City and Central London, like Bethnal Green, has spread to more outlying districts. Even before 2005, when London was chosen to host the 2012 Olympics, substantial public- and private-sector investment was being channelled into East London's infrastructure, and new residential developments were being built, in anticipation of a successful bid.
Stratford, location of the Olympic Park and a new Eurostar station, is understandably popular. Areas like Bow and Hackney are benefiting from their proximity to Stratford and links to the City.
South London, traditionally less expensive than its northern rival, is gaining in popularity. Lewisham, for example, is seeing strong growth. The Docklands Light Railway, which arrived there in 1999, and the Urban Renaissance Lewisham initiative, an ambitious programme to regenerate housing and employment, are giving the whole borough a boost. The Lewisham Gateway Development will redevelop the town centre and provide improved transport links and leisure facilities.
Premium areas like Kensington and Chelsea are magnets for wealthy overseas purchasers and City workers with lavish bonuses.
Places with good or improving transport links and amenities are experiencing significant price rises. One such is Elephant and Castle. On the Northern and Bakerloo underground lines, and within easy reach of both the City and the West End, it is shaking off its former seedy image, thanks to a comprehensive regeneration programme.
Due to open by June 2010, the East London Underground Line extension will take the line north to Dalston Junction and south to New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon. Areas on the route are expected to see rising property prices, particularly where new stations are being built (Dalston, Haggerston, Hoxton and Shoreditch).
Peckham, recipient of generous government and private investment since the 1990s, is one to watch. With a new town square and library, it is already on the up. Redevelopment of other key sites is planned. The Cross River Tram service, scheduled to be fully operational in 2016, will link Peckham with Camden via Waterloo and King's Cross, raising its profile further. Peckham's neighbour, East Dulwich, is currently booming.
As part of the Thames Gateway project, Woolwich is undergoing wide-ranging regeneration, yet prices there are still relatively modest. The forthcoming Docklands Light Railway extension will connect the area with Canary Wharf and the City of London, and, it is hoped, attract businesses.
With thanks to BuyAssociation.