How to Invest in the UK Property Market: 15 Tips for Foreign Buyers
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How to Invest in the UK Property Market: 15 Tips for Foreign Buyers

Analysis, General

The UK is widely thought of as a good place to make a property investment – and the dip in the value of the pound due to the Brexit vote has made prices more attractive to many foreign buyers. If you’re thinking of investing in the UK property market here are some tips that might help you when investing in UK property:

1. The London property market is very different from the rest of the UK. London has the highest priced property and the highest rents in the country. Average London prices can be 4/5 times other parts of the UK – you can buy a large detached house in most parts of the UK for the cost of a small flat in central London.

2. As a very general rule property prices and rents fall with geographic distance away from London – and begin to fall quite sharply as you move away from the south east. (There are exceptions though, and some cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh have upmarket districts where prices are substantially higher than the rest of area.)

Here are three articles you might find useful: Advice on buying in London and Advice on buying in Manchester. Also advice on buying in Birmingham.

3. Property values almost always rise over time in the UK – on average they have risen 300% over the last 20 years. This isn’t always the case though, and there have been periods in history when prices have dropped sharply.

4. At the moment there is a very large rented property sector, due to high prices and, more restricted mortgage lending and a shortage of affordable housing. Around 30% of people rent a home. That’s good news for those buying to let right now. This isn’t always the case though, and most British people prefer to buy rather than rent if they can.

5. Property to rent is in high demand in most areas if the country, but not everywhere, nor for every type of property. If you’re thinking of buying property to rent out check demand and rents with someone who is knowledgeable about local trends.

6. As a general rule, areas that are more expensive to buy property in offer better long term prospects for price gains but weaker rental yields – while areas that are cheaper to buy into offer poorer prospects for price gains but better rental yields.

7. The biggest factors that affect the value of a property in the UK are – its locale, its proximity to transport networks and its proximity to good local schools.

8. You don’t need a general licence to run a rental business or rent out property, but in some places you do need a licence to rent out property in that area. The local authority (also known as the local council) can tell you if you need a licence, what it involves and what it will cost.

9. Places to buy property include through estate agents, online property websites, direct from private sellers and through public property auctions.

You can often buy property below its full market value at a property auction but there is often a reason for this, such as the property having structural problems and/or which is unmortgageable. Here’s some advice on buying property at auction.

10. Asking prices are not fixed prices and are almost always negotiable.  It’s usual, although there are exceptions, to make an offer on a property you want to buy that is less than the asking price – sellers will normally expect you to make an offer under the asking price. (This doesn’t mean they will necessarily accept it!)

11. Scotland is different! The system on making offers, as with many aspects of property purchase and legally buying a property is different in Scotland. It’s best to take advice from a local expert in Scotland if you plan to buy there.

Here’s a useful Insider article about buying property in Scotland.

12. If buying through an estate agent buyers don’t pay any transactional fees to the agent. If buying from an auction buyers may have to pay transactional fees to the auction house.

13. Transferring a property into your ownership is known as conveyancing. It’s usual (and advisable) to have a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to do this for you – although you don’t have to use a lawyer to buy a property.

14. Stamp duty land tax (or SDLT) is a tax on property purchases and is payable by the buyer. Recent changes to the system have made calculating the rate you’ll pay quite complicated. The rate you pay depends on both the property price and the status of the property and can be anything between 0% -8% overall.

You can find more information about SDLT here.

15. Income from letting a property is taxable in the UK, but you can claim some of the expenses involved with letting a property as a tax allowance. Capital gains tax is levied on the profit you make from buying and selling a property that is not your own home. Again, there are allowances you can claim to reduce this.

As the property tax situation in the UK is complex and changes frequently it’s advisable for foreign buyers to consult a local tax accountant before buying.

Last but not least important, the same applies when investing in property in the UK as when investing in property anywhere – do your research on both the property and the area and expert advice before you decide to buy it.

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Keep checking back with Property Insider for more help and advice on buying and investing in UK property.

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