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Five common challenges when buying property in London

With multiple rounds of property cooling measures in Singapore, such as higher Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) and the tightening of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) threshold, investing in an overseas property seems more attractive for portfolio diversification. Owing to its reputation for market stability and strong demand, London has emerged as the top choice for many overseas investors from Singapore. Property buyers from Singapore have confidence in the merits of the London property market but still don’t take the first step, as they anticipate complications down the road. While certain aspects of overseas property buying can be challenging, if venturing alone, partnering with the right agent can help transform these challenges into opportunities. Here are some common obstacles that investors from Singapore are likely to encounter through their property journey in the UK capital.

Five common challenges when buying property in London

1. Seven thousand miles away

Yes, we indeed live in a globally connected world today, but thoughts about investing your money in an asset you haven’t seen are worthy of scepticism. Doubts concerning a developer’s reliability or credibility of an opportunity can dissuade a buyer from investing in lucrative off-plan projects. How do you address these doubts when you are thousands of miles away?

To start with, Benham & Reeves only works with top UK property developers in London who have a stellar record of delivering high-quality projects on time. With decades of experience in regeneration and transforming neighbourhoods into high-value residential havens, their projects offer exciting off-plan properties for overseas buyers. Limited access to such lucrative projects and deals is a frequent obstacle that overseas buyers encounter when entering London.

2. Limited knowledge of the local market

Limited knowledge of the local market

Although property markets around the world are affected by macroeconomic factors, London’s property market can operate in a separate multi-verse. As proven time and again, real estate in London has shown superior resiliency and growth even during global recessions and political uncertainties (Brexit). This market dynamism combines with the city’s diversity in towns and neighbourhoods, offering convenience and a lifestyle for which people are ready to pay a premium when renting out.

However, as an investor in Singapore, being familiar with the local insights and market nuances can be challenging. That’s what we’re here for. With us, your London property investment is backed by over 60 years of sales and lettings experience. We are familiar with neighbourhoods, local councils and their infrastructure plans, building trends, parking regulations and everything local that impacts property value and its growth.

3. Working out the time zone difference

The time difference between London and Singapore is a good night’s sleep. While Londoners begin their work, it’s almost the end of a business day in Singapore. This time difference can be an obstacle for Singapore buyers trying to acquire or sell a property in London. An experienced agent will ensure a seamless property acquisition process by working around the convenience of both time zones.

In addition to a physical office at Raffles Hotel Arcade in Singapore that is happy to assist you during normal business hours, we have regular property exhibitions where our directors directly interact with potential buyers. With an on-ground presence in several global cities, our international teams liaise with our London branches to ensure a seamless buying and overall investment journey.

4. Mortgage and banking

While for non-cash buyers, investing in a London property may require mortgage services, banking services are needed for cash and non-cash buyers. The sums of money you will be borrowing and transferring to acquire property require a safe and transparent process. To mitigate even the smallest shred of doubt, we only work with reputable mortgage lenders and banks. Whether it’s financing your investment or calculating approximate mortgage values, we can guide you in the right direction.

As property experts, it is our job to be on top of market trends and inform you when is a good time to invest. With positive indicators, such as an increase in mortgage approvals and interest rates stabilising over the last quarter, we would encourage you to make a move right now.

5. Tax implications and legal compliance

Tax implications and legal compliance

Governments and their policies receive a lot of flak when the economy underperforms, so when a sector is performing well and investors are being rewarded, of course, Ceasar will demand his share of the spoils. Taxes such as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), council tax, income tax on rental earnings and the fees for legal compliance are costs that safeguard your property and ensure consistent value.

However, as an overseas investor, especially if it’s your first time investing in London, the UK’s extensive legal framework and taxation process can seem a tad overwhelming. Fret not, as our dedicated team in Singapore and back home in London will work it all out for you. We’ll break down all the property jargon for you and provide a comprehensive range of buying and letting services that help maximise your investment to its full potential.

Read more on: Step-by-step guide to buying property in London for Singapore investors

For any investment to yield good returns, knowledge is crucial. Similarly, overcoming the inhibitions of distance, time, and financial and legal intricacies adds to the overall success of overseas property investments in London. Get in touch with us to make your London property dreams a reality.


About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents. With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.