Turnkey Solutions

 

Successful real-estate investment is about more than just buying property. Just as you wouldn’t buy a new car without thinking about extended warranty, finance and insurance, there are other services to consider. We help you bolt together all the essential pieces to successfully buy your London property. And we don’t just introduce you to the right people – we coordinate all the moving parts.

 

One of the first considerations is how to tax-effectively structure your property investment. Then comes other legal, financial and commercial considerations. A fatal mistake is to start thinking about these issues once you have successfully bid on a property. That will cause delays and could even put the deal in jeopardy.

 

The smart solution is a plug-and-play model that provides you with access to independent Subject Matter Experts who will professionally guide you to the right outcome. These are our Turnkey Solutions.

Property
Search

Naturally, we are all about finding you that one property that meets the definition of being best-in-class. Your property search is the hub around which the other components of our Solutions suite are built. All of these services are designed to streamline and enhance your property purchase experience. And provide you with peace of mind.

 

The process by which we find your ideal home encompasses the first three of our 6-Steps to Success – Discover, Search and Negotiate. (Click here for 6-Steps to Success).  

 

Our customers often change the scope of their London property search after talking with us. Perhaps their focus shifts from buying a new-build property to an established home. Or to a district undergoing regeneration. The reason is that during the Discovery process we either unearth a critical piece they hadn’t thought about or provide information that hadn’t been considered.

 

We prosecute your property search in a precise and rigorous fashion. We know exactly the search parameters that match your Brief. Our search capabilities are enhanced by tools & technology and our vast network of industry contacts. Ultimately, our competitive advantage is London's House Detective– Jamie Burnhope. He knows the London property market inside out.

 

Negotiating the best deal on your preferred property is a strategic process. It starts with defining the property's market value as distinct from its asking price. This critical prerequisite injects objectivity into the process. The subjectivity comes with understanding the seller's motivations and their willingness to flex on the asking price. Only then do we build your negotiation strategy. Neglecting the first two steps risks playing into the hands of the seller.

Tax Advice

Investing money in offshore property is serious business. Before you start your property search in earnest it is essential that you understand the tax implications - regardless of whether the purchase is for investment purposes or to occupy. It may be prudent to consider the entity you are using to purchase the property, the optimal means for transferring assets to the UK or how best to structure the ongoing property management.

 

As an offshore buyer it is essential that you are familiar with the UK regulatory environment and how it may impact you. Consistent with other mature markets, the UK government is sensitive to housing affordability and the critical role played by supply and demand. The impact of overseas investment on the residential property market generates considerable public interest and creates pressure on governments to intervene through regulatory action.

 

The London property market has proven to be a popular destination for offshore investors and effective 1 April, 2021, the government is increasing stamp duty on residential property purchases for non-residents in a bid to dampen offshore buying demand.

 

In addition to Stamp Duty Land Tax, other topics that international investors should seek advice on include:

  • Income tax self-assessment and the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme
  • Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED)
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Inheritance tax.

The time to get professional advice on taxation related matters from the team at Warrener Stewart is prior to making an investment into UK property, transferring assets to this country or relocating to the UK. We would be delighted to introduce you.

Conveyancing

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. In terms of your London property purchase, this is a critical service component. Technically, the work can be performed by either a conveyancer or property solicitor. The key stages are exchange of contracts, at which point the sale becomes legally binding, and completion when the buyer receives the keys to the property.

 

It is worth repeating that your property purchase in London is only secure at the point of exchange of contracts. Up until that time, either the buyer or seller can withdraw from the deal without penalty. In minimizing this risk, it is imperative that the conveyancing work is performed diligently and efficiently.

 

In the run up to exchange of contracts, your solicitor will conduct relevant searches on the property and request a draft contract and other selling documents from the seller's solicitor. These checks and searches could uncover problems such as a history of subsidence at the property, irregularities in the lease or non-compliant building renovations. In these situations, your solicitor may negotiate financial protection for you by way of indemnity insurance, you could attempt to renegotiate the terms of the deal with the seller or simply walk away from the sale.

 

Your solicitor also deals with exchange of contracts, the transfer of funds to the seller's solicitor, payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf and registering your interest in the property with the Land Registry. All funds in relation to your purchase will be paid via the solicitor's client account. In order to handle monies on your behalf, your solicitor will carry out a confidential onboarding process to ensure that your transaction complies with all UK Money Laundering Regulations.

 

Given the scope of your investment, the potential complexities involved and the critical importance of the conveyancing process we would urge you to engage the services of PCB Lawyers LLP (“PCB”). PCB's residential property team specializes in helping investors from the Asia-Pacific region where they are opening offices. They will guide you through the process once a property is found with priority given to clear and effective communication at all times. The team is multilingual and can arrange communication in Cantonese if required.  

Mortgage
Financing

The question that pre-empts choice of mortgage provider is whether you intend to buy your property using cash exclusively. Whilst that would make your offer more attractive to the seller, particularly as an offshore buyer, there are obvious drawbacks to this strategy. With interest rates at all-time lows, there is also an economic argument to support using loan funds.

 

We highly recommend that you use the services of a mortgage broker to assist you in securing your loan because:

  • Not all UK banks and building societies will provide a mortgage to offshore buyers. A mortgage broker will give you ready access to those lending institutions which do.
  • Some banks which do offer mortgages to international investors deal exclusively through mortgage brokers.
  • A mortgage broker will assist you with the application process and cut the ‘red tape’ to a minimum.

We strongly encourage you to engage Alexander Hall Associates (AHA) to find you the best offshore mortgage. They have a wealth of experience dealing with international mortgages for either residential or investment purposes.

 

You should commence your discussions with AHA early in your property search to assist you:

  • Understand what value mortgage you will settle on and its impact upon your total property purchase price
  • Determine which mortgage provider's terms and conditions best suit your requirements
  • Gain Mortgage-in-Principal (MIP) approval from your chosen lending institution.

This last point is critical. When it comes to negotiating the purchase of your property the seller is more likely to look favorably upon your offer if you have MIP approval. This could be a crucial factor in getting the deal done.

Property
Survey

Once you have successfully bid on a property, one of your first objectives should be to confirm its physical condition. Up until this point, your appraisal of the property will have been superficial. Considering the value of your investment, it is essential that you:

  • Verify that the condition of the property is consistent with your expectations
  • Understand any repair and renovation costs for budgetary purposes
  • Identify any problems which may require the terms of the sale to be re-negotiated

We recommend that you engage a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) surveyor for this purpose. Their residential property reports offer impartial property assessments. They offer three different types of surveys dependent upon the condition/type of building:

  • RICS Condition Report suitable for assessing the condition of a conventional property in good condition.
  • RICS HomeBuyer Report that lists problems that may affect the value of the property and legal issues that need to be addressed before completing your conveyancing.
  • RICS Building Survey suitable for larger, older or run-down properties or if you’re planning major works. It includes a thorough inspection and detailed report on a wider range of issues, an outline of repair options and advice for your legal advisers.

A RICS survey shouldn’t be confused with one that a mortgage lender will use. This is a limited check on the home that they carry out to ensure it's worth the money they’re lending you. A RICS survey is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

 

Once you have negotiated terms on a property, we will direct you to a RICS surveyor in the area in which you have purchased.

 

Property
Renovation

One of the critical inputs to your London property search concerns the style of property you intend to purchase. Will it be a flat, semi-detached or detached house? A new-build or established property? Offshore investors typically gravitate towards new build properties, either buying off the plan or completed projects.

 

During our Discovery session we will also explore your views on the merits of investing in a property for renovation purposes. Some of the relevant considerations include your:

  • Preference of district/location
  • Investment objectives
  • Preferred aesthetic or layout requirements
  • Cashflow requirements
  • Timeframe for holding onto the property.

A well-executed renovation has several immediate and long-term benefits. It can improve the lifestyle of your property, attract the right caliber of tenant and establish your property's unique sales proposition, potentially increasing its value.

 

Property renovation is the subject of several popular misconceptions, the first being that the ideal property to renovate is one that requires a total makeover. The flaws in this logic relate to the often-excessive pricing of unrenovated properties and the potential for cost and time blow-outs.

 

The second misconception is that in order to ‘unlock value’ you need to conduct a major renovation. The truth is that a simple refurbishment that improves the usable space or opens up the opportunity for outdoor living can yield a significant capital gain.

 

Property renovation is not without its risks. There are the noted cost and time concerns along with quality of workmanship. These challenges are all exaggerated for offshore buyers.  Our view is that you should only consider this option with the right professional support.  Pineapple Interiors oversee projects from the initial design and tender stages right through the build phase. They are experts in identifying opportunities to transform and add value to run down properties and capably negotiate development costs with surveyors, architects, engineers and construction industry contractors.

Property
Furnishing

We have also partnered with Pineapple Interiors to assist you with furnishing your new home. If you are a property investor, we will discuss with you the merits of leasing your property either furnished or unfurnished. There are several key issues to consider if you are contemplating furnishing your property:

  • Financial/tax implications
  • Prevailing market practice
  • Tenant expectations.

We would encourage you to discuss the first point with Warrener Stewart. On the latter two points, it would be advisable to take advice from the property management team at Touchstone. Dependent upon the style of property and target market for tenancy, Pineapple Interiors will guide you through the process of designing the optimal layout and then selecting appropriate furnishings, accessories and fittings that enhance the appeal of your property.

 

If you are purchasing your property to occupy, Pineapple Interiors are also able to assist you with furnishing your new home. They will consult with you to understand your tastes and preferences and, importantly, your budget. They will then provide you with a comprehensive interiors package tailored to your requirements inclusive of trade discounts.

Property
Management

Property management is an often-neglected and under-valued component of property investment. It is not uncommon for investors to leave deliberations on this subject until they have taken possession of the keys to their new home. At that point, they will also frequently assign the property management rights to the selling agent for the sake of convenience. For offshore investors, this issue assumes even greater importance given the geographical challenges.

 

Once the sale is complete it is probable that you will want to tenant the property at the earliest opportunity to start generating a return on your investment. Attracting the right caliber of tenant has become increasingly important as the regulatory framework now affords greater protection of tenant's rights.

 

For overseas investors, the appointment of a property manager is particularly important. If there are any problems with the property or the tenants you need to have full confidence in the capabilities of your property management team to resolve it effectively and efficiently. If there is any maintenance work or urgent repairs to be performed you need to know that they will be done with minimal disruption to your tenants, the cost will be reasonable and that your investment will be fully compliant with all local legislation.

 

For this critical component of property investment, we are delighted to partner with Touchstone. Their service scope includes:

  • Marketing of your property
  • Undertaking all customer referencing and financial checks
  • Tenancy and deposit management
  • Credit control
  • Management of maintenance and inspections
  • Management of all compliance and Health & Safety requirements
  • Rental accounting

Touchstone are fully independent, so they are free to work with the most appropriate letting agents and contractors. There are no hidden costs, commissions or on-costs and they maintain the highest levels of accreditation and governance that you should expect from a best-in-class managing agent.