How to house hunt like a billionaire

Alex Bourne and Richard Douglas, co-founders of luxury estate agents, Hanover West End, know first-hand what it takes to secure your dream property in the golden post codes of the City. Here, they share their tips on how to navigate the battle field that is the luxury London property market – and come out on top. 

Trust and communication

“You have to be able to trust and communicate well with your estate agent and lawyers, these are the people who are dealing with millions of pounds of your money” says Alex. “A deal can fall through so easily and quickly even after months of negotiation due to the most minor of discrepancies and poor management.” His advice: find someone with experience in luxury property otherwise you could end up wasting valuable time and money.

Be prepared for a quick turnaround

Regular house buying usually takes three months all being well. However with luxury property worth millions and more, the process is faster. "We had a £16m property that was bought within 48 hours," says Richard. "This was the quickest turnaround we’ve experienced, but it’s not uncommon for a deal that should take a few weeks only taking one." Be prepared with the best lawyers, surveyors and estate agents, so you can keep up with the pace. In the luxury London property market there is always someone waiting with bated breath to get ahead of you…

Discretion is key

“You have to be able to trust your estate agent to be discreet with your property search, if anyone else gets a whiff that you’re interested in a property or are searching in a particular area, you can guarantee they will be too," says Alex. "At Hanover we adopt a no-nonsense, discretionary approach so that our client’s privacy isn’t compromised.”

Establish your priorities

With such a large pool of properties available, it can become overwhelming and distracting. It’s sensible to have a set of priorities that you want your London property to achieve, such as near a tube station or school, spectacular views, a gym etc. Think about the financial priorities as well, have a sum in mind and make calculations. “We advise our clients to consider capital appreciation rather than annual yield if they’re purchasing an investment property,” Richard points out. Make these priorities a guideline, because although they will help guide you in your property purchase, compromise is as certain as death and taxes in London!

Prime location

This is important for both investors and homebuyers. Luckily, as a whole, London is a profitable housing market, where property prices double every 6-8 years. But as with any city there are the good and not so good areas. Particularly with investment purchases, research the areas you are interested in, Hanover West End suggests putting questions to your estate agent like: is the area being developed? How much have house prices increased by in the last ten years? What is the culture of the area? What are the other residents like? What has been said about this area in the news? If you conduct thorough research you’ll be able to find out whether an area is ‘up and coming’, if it’s going to be predominantly student occupied etc. All of these factors will influence whether it’s the right location for you.

Invest in a blank canvas

Alex says: "Many property buyers want a ready-to-move-in home, where no work has to be done, which is fine. However we always recommend our clients to consider the ‘blank canvas’ properties. These are builds that need some level of work. For example, if a client wants a swimming pool in the basement, we will show them properties that do not have one, but have the space for it to be built.” “At Hanover, we like to think of ourselves as private property detectives, we will hunt and find those hidden gems that fulfil our client’s wants, even when they don’t realise they want it!", says Richard. "We do this because in our experience, the prospect of making a property completely your own, is more appealing in the long term than one that comes ready with a bow wrapped around it. Not to mention there is big money to be made in home improvements and renovation.”

For more info, visit hanover-residential.co.uk